August 10, 1952 |
East Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||The Juilliard School (1977)|
|Spouse(s)||Andrzej Bartkowiak (m. 1980–89)|
Diane Venora (born August 10, 1952) is an American stage, television and film actress.
Venora graduated from The Juilliard School in 1977 and made her film debut in 1981 opposite Albert Finney in Wolfen. She won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1988 film Bird directed by Clint Eastwood. Her other films include, The Cotton Club (1984), Heat (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Jackal (1997), The Insider (1999) and Hamlet (2000).
Venora was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, one of six children of Marie (née Brooks) and Robert P. Venora, who owned a dry cleaning establishment. Diane graduated from East Hartford High School (class of 1970), during which she was active in musicals and plays. She studied at Boston Conservatory of Music and two years later won a scholarship to The Juilliard School in New York City, where she graduated in 1977. At Juilliard she was a member of the Drama Department's Group 6 (1973–1977), which also included Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Sansom Harris, and Robin Williams.
After graduation, Venora performed extensively on the stage, particularly in Shakespearean plays. She made her film debut alongside Albert Finney and Gregory Hines in Wolfen (1981). In 1983, she starred in Joseph Papp's production of Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the lead role, the first woman to play the role at the prestigious showcase. She has a long history with Hamlet, having played the title role, having played Ophelia opposite Kevin Kline, and having played Gertrude onscreen opposite Ethan Hawke.
In 1988, her critically acclaimed performance in Clint Eastwood's biographical feature of jazz great Charlie Parker, Bird, as Chan Parker, his wife, earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination and the New York Film Critics Circle Award.
In 1994, after taking five years off to care for her daughter, Venora landed a starring role in the ABC TV series Thunder Alley (playing Ed Asner's character's daughter), followed by a recurring role as plastic surgeon Geri Infante in the Emmy-winning TV series Chicago Hope.
In 1995, she starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat, earning high regard from both critics and audiences for her portrayal of Justine Hanna, the Pacino character's troubled wife. That performance and her follow-up as Juliet's mother, Gloria Capulet, in Romeo + Juliet (1996) earned her supporting roles in The Jackal (1997), The 13th Warrior (1999), and The Insider (1999). She was most recently seen in the 2010 film, All Good Things.
Venora was married to cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak in 1980; the couple divorced in 1989. She quit show business in 1989 to spend more time with her daughter Madzia, then eight years old. During her hiatus, Venora lived in New York, teaching disadvantaged children and acting in an occasional play. In 1994, Venora and her daughter moved to Los Angeles.
- "Diane Venora Biography (1952-)". FilmReference.com.
- "Venora. Robert P. Venora, Sr.". Hartford Courant. February 23, 1997.
- Lang, Steven (December 8, 1997). "Second Act: Having Once Left Acting to Care for Her Daughter, Diane Venora Takes a Run at Stardom in The Jackal". People.
- "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. November 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
- "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
- Diane Venora- Biography