The daughter of actress/director Elaine May, Jeannie Berlin made a name for herself cinematically in Ms. May's The Heartbreak Kid (1974). For her portrayal of a whiny, dumped-on new bride, Jeannie was nominated for an Academy Award. Though Heartbreak Kid was touted as her film debut, Jeannie had been acting professionally since 1970, playing small roles in Getting Straight and in the made-for-TV The Baby Maker. Briefly retiring from filmmaking after Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York (1975), Jeannie Berlin turned to writing and directing; in 1990, she was back before the cameras in In the Spirit, which was directed by her mother and which she also co-wrote.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Inspired by her mother, writer/director Elaine May, to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
- First acted in a stage production of Rumpelstiltskin at the age of 14.
- Attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for a short time.
- Breakout role was in her mother's 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid, a part that earned her the New York Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress.
- Took a break from acting for more than 20 years before returning to film in 1990.
- Starred as Frosty Moons in Elaine May's stage production Adult Entertainment at the Variety Arts Theatre in 2002.
- Made her Broadway debut as Joanne in Elaine May's After the Night and the Music at the Biltmore Theatre in 2005.
- Performed in a stage production of Other Desert Cities opposite JoBeth Williams, Robert Foxworth and Justin Long at the Mark Taper Forum in 2012.
- Narrated the audiobook for Thomas Pynchon's 2013 novel Bleeding Edge.