Penelope Spheeris

Active - 1969 - 2022  |   Born - Dec 2, 1945   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Culture & Society, Music

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Majoring in film at UCLA, Penelope Spheeris launched her career by producing short subjects for satirist Albert Brooks, many of which were highlights of "Saturday Night Live's" first season. When Brooks stepped up to feature films with Real Life (1978), Spheeris stayed on as his producer. Her first "auteur" feature project was The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), a punk-rock documentary that she wrote, produced, and directed. After several years' work in documentaries of a doggedly non-comic (and unappealing) nature, Spheeris returned to laughmaking with Wayne's World, which became one of 1992's biggest hits. Spheeris would remain a comedy director, though her subsequent features varied wildly in quality. 1993's The Beverly Hillbillies opened strong, but was killed by word-of-mouth, while 1994's The Little Rascals managed to convey much of the sweetness and innocence of the old Hal Roach two-reelers of the 1930s -- albeit with the requisite 1990's feminist slant.

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