The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Elizabeth McGovern
The daughter of a law professor at Northwestern University, Elizabeth McGovern was born in Evanston, Illinois on July 18, 1961, and moved to Los Angeles when her father joined the faculty at UCLA. She performed in school plays while attending North Hollywood High, and graduated from The Oakwood School.Her performance in Thornton Wilder's The Skin of our Teeth brought her to the attention of agent Joan Scott, who urged her to attend San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater. She continued her acting studies at the Julliard School of Dramatic Arts in New York City. While at Julliard she was cast in her first film role, as Jeannine in Robert Redford's Ordinary People, giving what Leonard Maltin describes as "an impressive screen debut." She followed this with a stunning portrayal of the notorious Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, and made her off-Broadway stage debut in 1981's To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.
McGovern has since appeared in many movies, on television and on stage, exhibiting a tendency to select interesting, offbeat projects that were not always mainstream. Her more conventional -- and commercially successful -- films during the 1980s were The Bedroom Window (1987), a murder mystery costarring Steve Guttenberg, and John Hughes' romantic comedy She's Having A Baby (1988). Her film work in the 1990s includes The Handmaid's Tale (1990), A Shock to the System (1990), King of the Hill (1993) and The Wings of the Dove (1997).More recently she has appeared as Lady Marguerite Blakeney in a trio of Scarlet Pimpernel TV movies, based on the popular stories by Baroness Orzcy. McGovern also starred in the short-lived 1995 TV sitcom, If Not For You.
  She currently lives in London with her husband Simon Curtis, a TV producer and director, and their two children, Matilda and Grace.
-- JM

1980s Filmography
Ordinary People (1980)
Ragtime (1981)
Lovesick (1983)
Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
Racing With the Moon (1984)
Native Son (1986)
The Bedroom Window (1987)
She's Having A Baby (1988)
Johnny Handsome (1989)


Critics' Comments
Ragtime (1981)
"Elizabeth McGovern, Tim Hutton's girlfriend in Ordinary People, is the pliable, unprincipled Evelyn Nesbit. She was a notorious beauty whose jealous husband, Harry. K. Thaw (Robert Joy), shot down her architect lover, Stanford White....The deliciously lovely McGovern, then 19 and Oscar-nominated for her role, does a long, drunken nude scene with a shocked boyfriend and two lawyers that's both unselfconsciously erotic and funny."
-- People Weekly

Lovesick (1983)
"McGovern, as a new in-town playwright from Illinois, looks like the thinking man's Brooke Shields; she's so infectiously charming a couple of unflattering closeups that accentuate her face's chubbiness don't hurt her. What hurts her is that she doesn't have any funny lines either."
-- People Weekly

Native Son (1986)
"Brought into a wealthy white household as a chauffeur, Bigger accidentally kills the daughter who has befriended him. As Bigger's beloved victim, Elizabeth McGovern gives her most incisive performance. Wearing a coy smile with her white gloves, she clearly understands the condescension that this woman markets as compassion."
-- People Weekly.