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Kate Capshaw

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Kate Capshaw
Capshaw in January 1984
Kathleen Sue Nail

(1953-11-03) November 3, 1953 (age 70)
Alma materUniversity of Missouri
  • Actress
  • producer
  • painter
Years active1981–2001
  • Robert Capshaw
    (m. 1976; div. 1980)
  • (m. 1991)
Children6, including Jessica, Destry, and Sasha
RelativesArnold Spielberg (father-in-law)

Kathleen Sue Spielberg (née Nail; born November 3, 1953),[1] known professionally as Kate Capshaw, is a retired American actress and painter. She is best known for her portrayal of Willie Scott, an American nightclub singer and performer in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), directed by her eventual husband Steven Spielberg. Since then, she starred in Dreamscape (1984), Power (1986), SpaceCamp (1986), Black Rain (1989), Love Affair (1994), Just Cause (1995), and The Love Letter (1999). Her portraiture work has been shown in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Capshaw was born Kathleen Sue Nail, the daughter of Edwin L. Nail, an airline employee.[4] She moved to St. Louis, Missouri, at the age of five, and graduated from Hazelwood Senior High School in 1972. Capshaw earned a degree in education from the University of Missouri, where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. She taught Special Education at Southern Boone High School in Ashland, Missouri, and Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri.[citation needed]

She married marketing manager Robert Capshaw in January 1976 and they had one child, Jessica Capshaw, before eventually divorcing in 1980.[citation needed] However, she kept the surname Capshaw, which she used for her professional name upon becoming an actress.


Capshaw in June 1984

Capshaw moved to New York City to pursue her dream of acting, landing her first role on the soap opera The Edge of Night. After auditioning for a small role in A Little Sex, she was offered the role of the leading lady, which is when she asked for a dismissal from The Edge of Night. She starred in Dreamscape in 1984, and afterwards was directed by her then-boyfriend Armyan Bernstein in Windy City.[5]

She met film director and future husband Steven Spielberg upon winning the female lead as Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), a prequel to Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Capshaw starred opposite Harrison Ford, who played Indiana Jones. In addition, she appeared as Andie Bergstrom, an appealing and stern yet frustrated camp instructor in the 1986 film SpaceCamp, opposite Richard Gere and Gene Hackman in Power (1986), and starred as Susanna McKaskel in The Quick and The Dead (1987) with Sam Elliott. Capshaw also starred in the spy film/romance Her Secret Life.[6]

Capshaw had roles in several films throughout the late 1980s into the 1990s. She starred alongside Michael Douglas and Andy García in Black Rain (1989), Sean Connery and Laurence Fishburne in Just Cause (1995), and Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in Love Affair (1994). She was also featured in the 1997 film The Alarmist with David Arquette and Stanley Tucci. In 1999, she starred in and produced The Love Letter.

In 2001, she starred in the Showtime Cable Network TV Movie A Girl Thing,[7] with Stockard Channing, Rebecca De Mornay and Elle Macpherson.[8] She retired from acting after her final screen appearance in that 2001 TV movie.[citation needed]

In 2009, Capshaw began her art studies—drawing, painting, and portraiture. She turned her interest to portraits of young people experiencing homelessness. In March 2019, three of these portraits were selected as finalists in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s prestigious juried triennial: the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Following their selection, the portraits debuted in the exhibition The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today.[9][10]

On April 28, 2023, Capshaw along with Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance on stage during Bruce Springsteen's show in Barcelona where they provided backing vocals and tambourine on the song "Glory Days".[11]

Personal life[edit]

During the production of the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Capshaw became close to director Steven Spielberg, whom she later married. Originally an Episcopalian, she converted to Judaism before marrying Spielberg on October 12, 1991.[12][13] They were married in both a civil ceremony and an Orthodox ceremony.[14]

There are seven children in the Spielberg–Capshaw family.



Year Title Role Note
1982 A Little Sex Katherine Harrison
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Willie Scott
1984 Best Defense Laura Cooper
1984 Dreamscape Jane DeVries
1984 Windy City Emily Reubens
1986 Power Sydney Betterman
1986 SpaceCamp Andie Bergstrom
1987 The Quick and the Dead Susanna McKaskel
1988 Private Affairs Brunetta
1989 Black Rain Joyce
1990 Love at Large Mrs. Ellen McGraw
1991 My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys Jolie Meadows
1994 Love Affair Lynn Weaver
1995 Just Cause Laurie Prentiss Armstrong
1995 How to Make an American Quilt Sally Dodd
1997 The Locusts Delilah Ashford Potts
1997 The Alarmist Gale Ancona
1999 The Love Letter Helen MacFarquhar Also producer


Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Edge of Night Jinx Avery Mallory #1 TV series
1982 Missing Children: A Mother's Story Elaine Rogers TV film
1987 The Quick and the Dead Susanna McKaskel TV film
1987 Her Secret Life Annie TV film
1988 Internal Affairs Joanna Gates TV film
1993 Black Tie Affair Margo Cody TV series; 13 episodes
1994 Next Door Karen Coler TV film
1996 Duke of Groove Rebecka Short film
2001 A Girl Thing Casey Montgomery TV film
2001 Due East Becky Purdue TV film


  1. ^ Pohlen, Jerome (February 2006). Oddball Texas. Chicago Review Press. p. 89. ISBN 9781569764725.
  2. ^ "UNACCOMPANIED, Kate Capshaw | 2019 | The Outwin: American Portraiture Today | Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery".
  3. ^ "Art review: At the National Portrait Gallery, the finalists in the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition redefine the idea of portraiture. - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ Dickson, Gordon (December 30, 1998). "Edwin Nail, Kate Capshaw's dad, dies at 65". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. Section B, Page 4. Retrieved July 5, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Spielberg: The Man, the Movies, the Mythology
  6. ^ Code Name Dancer (1987) at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ "The DVD of A Girl Thing" reviewed at Amazon
  8. ^ "Elle's Sexy Lesbian Romp." at Cinema.com
  9. ^ "Unaccompanied: The Outwin". Smithsonian. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  10. ^ Cassaday, Daniel (12 May 2023). "Kate Capshaw's Portraits Bring Homeless Youth Out of Dark and Into View". ArtNews. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  11. ^ Blanchett, Ben (2023-04-29). "Michelle Obama Joins Bruce Springsteen Onstage During Barcelona Concert". MSN.com. Retrieved 2023-04-29.
  12. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (September 24, 1995). "From 'Schindler's List,' a Jewish Mission". New York Times. p. 1001030. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  13. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (12 December 1993). "Film: Steven Spielberg Faces the Holocaust". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 February 2001. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  14. ^ Sanello, Frank (1996). Spielberg: The Man, the Movies, the Mythology. Taylor Publishing Co. p. 274. ISBN 9780878339112.
  15. ^ "Spielberg, Steven – Fun Facts, Answers, Factoids, Info, Information". Funtrivia.com. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  16. ^ Greissinger, Lisa Kay (15 April 1996). "Passages". People.com. Time Inc. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  17. ^ "Steven Spielberg Fast Facts". Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.

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