American actress Cybill Shepherd's pre-acting career included a runner-up stint in the Miss Teenage America pageant and seemingly thousands of modelling gigs, most prominently for Cover Girl makeup. She was spotted adorning a magazine cover by film director Peter Bogdanovich, who selected her to play a small town heartbreaker in his prestigious 1971 film The Last Picture Show. Shepherd was praised for her cinematic debut, though the reviews devoted more space to her diving-board striptease than her delivery of lines. Except for a part as Charles Grodin's dream girl in The Heartbreak Kid (1972), Shepherd did most of her subsequent early film work for Bogdanovich, once her lover as well as her mentor. Reviewers were barely tolerant of her performance in Daisy Miller (1974) -- and with the next Bogdanovich-directed appearance in At Long Last Love (1975) the gloves were off, her career had hit a hard spot. But she recovered, at least professionally, and did quite well for herself in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1975). The "Peter Bogdanovich's Girlfriend" onus took years to suppress; it was still being bandied about when she appeared in her first (short-lived) TV series "The Yellow Rose" (1983). But with her starring role in the popular detective/comedy weekly "Moonlighting" (1985), Shepherd made up for lost time and attained star status without any association with her onetime "Svengali." Shepherd and co-star Bruce Willis played the reluctant partners in a failing detective agency, but the plotlines were secondary to the banter and witticisms between the stars -- not to mention the winks at the audience and "in" jokes that let the folks at home know that the characters knew that they were just acting on TV. An instant success, "Moonlighting" was plagued with production problems almost from the outset. Shepherd and Willis made no secret of their distaste for one another, and both behaved rather boorishly to those around them. Firings and tantrums were almost everyday occurences on the set, and this, plus the problem of turning out a quality script each week, caused the series to fall woefully behind in schedule. Soon it became a media event if "Moonlighting" ran something other than a repeat. In 1987, Shepherd became pregnant with twins, which forced a speedup in production and some wildly convoluted (and often tasteless) scripts to accomodate the actress' condition. Power struggles continued between Shepherd and producer Glenn Caron (and the people who replaced Caron); "Moonlighting" was cancelled in 1989. Since that time, Shepherd has signed an endorsement contract with L'Oreal cosmetics, while continuing to appear in films and TV movies of variable quality (including Texasville, the best-forgotten sequel to The Last Picture Show). Besides becoming a favored and most entertaining guest on the talk-show circuit, Shepherd later returned to television in the Emmy-winning CBS sitcom Cybill. In 2003 Shepherd appeared as Martha Stewart in the NBC biopic Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart, and two years later she reprised the role in the made-for-television sequel Martha Behind Bars. For two years beginning in 2007 Stewart played the mother of her real-life daughter Clementine Ford's character on The L Word, and in 2010 she was bestowed the GLAAD Golden Gate Award for her efforts in increasing the LGBT community's visibility in the media. Meanwhile, appearances on such television series' as Psyche, Hot in Cleveland, and The Client List served well to keep her career going strong.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Name is a combination of the names of her grandfathers, Cyrus and Bill.
- Voted Miss Teenage Memphis in 1966.
- Studied opera before Orson Welles advised her to go into acting.
- Former boyfriend Peter Bogdanovich spotted her on a cover of Glamour magazine and cast her in a bit part in The Last Picture Show (1971), her first film.
- Briefly dated fellow Memphis native Elvis Presley when she was 19.
- Has recorded several jazz albums.
- In 2000, published her autobiography, Cybill Disobedience.
- Played the mother of her real-life daughter Clementine Ford's character on The L Word (2007-09).
- Is a supporter of gay rights and received a GLAAD Golden Gate Award in 2010. The award is presented to those who increase the LGBT community's visibility in the media.