The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Kathleen Turner


Though she was born in Springfield, Missouri (June 19, 1954), Kathleen lived in such diverse places as England, Venezuela and Cuba while growing up. (Her father, who had spent four years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, was in the foreign service.) After graduating from the University of Maryland in 1977, Kathleen attended London's Central School of Speech and Drama. She then won a recurring role in the soap opera The Doctors

In 1981 she made her feature film debut as the sultry Matty Walker in Body Heat, costarring William Hurt, launching a career that made her one of Hollywood's leading ladies in the Eighties. Her performance in Body Heat left no doubt that she had tremendous screen presence and sex appeal. In the 1984 blockbuster Romancing the Stone, she demonstrated a flair for comedy, playing a New York romance novelist who becomes entangled in a South American treasure hunt. (She performed all her own stunts in this film.) She was reunited with costar Michael Douglas in the 1985 sequel The Jewel of the Nile -- though Twentieth Century Fox had to sue her to honor a contractual obligation to appear in the film. She also starred with Douglas in The War of the Roses (1989), a dark comedy about divorce.

Kathleen's greatest role came in 1986, when she gave an Oscar-nominated performance in Peggy Sue Got Married. In the title role (originally intended for Debra Winger), she played a frumpy housewife who attends a high school reunion and is propelled back in time, giving her a chance to alter her future. In 1988 she provided the sexy voice of the 'toon character Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Kathleen continued to make films through the 1990s, but with few exceptions -- such as 1994's Serial Mom -- these movies were, at best, unremarkable. In 2000 she gave a highly regarded performance on the London Stage in The Graduate.

On the personal front, Kathleen married realtor Jay Weiss in 1984, and had a daughter, Rachel Ann, in 1988. In 1992 the actress was diagnosed with rheumatoid athritis. She was immortalized in the 1986 song "The Kiss of Kathleen Turner" by Falco, of "Rock Me Amadeus" fame. In 1995 she was chosen by Empire Magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history. (She came in at #73.)

-- JM

1980s Filmography
Body Heat (1981)
The Man With Two Brains (1983)
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Crimes of Passion (1984)
A Breed Apart (1984)
Prizzi's Honor (1985)
The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Switching Channels (1988)
Julia and Julia (1988)
The Accidental Tourist (1988)
The War of the Roses (1989)

 

Critics' Comments
Body Heat (1981)
"Turner...in her debut role played a woman so sexually confident that we can believe her lover (William Hurt) could be dazed into doing almost anything for her."
-- Roger Ebert

Crimes of Passion (1984)
"The provocative Kathleen Turner thuds into a wall of inanity in this... seriocomic examination of sexual morality among American savages."
 -- Variety

Prizzi's Honor (1985)
"Kathleen Turner...[has] enough come-on carnality to singe the screen.... [Jack] Nicholson and Turner, a magical screen pair...are two cobras with a nesting itch, and they mine the script for every satirical poison dart aimed at the evil in everyday America."
-- People Weekly

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
"Turner is so creative and communicative an actress that she can turn ninety minutes of making toast into an exciting event."
-- People Weekly

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
"Delivering a performance of depth and conviction is the ever dazzling Kathleen Turner."
-- People Weekly


Awards
1984 -- Best Actress, Romancing the Stone, Los Angeles Film Critics Association
1984 -- Best Actress, Comedy or Musical, Romancing the Stone, Golden Globe
1985 -- Best Actress, Comedy or Musical, Prizzi's Honor, Golden Globe
1986 -- Best Actress, Peggy Sue Got Married, National Board of Review