The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep (Mary Louise Streep) was born 22 June 1949 in Summit, New Jersey. She attended Vassar College, Dartmouth and Yale, majoring in drama at the latter institution though her childhood interest had been opera. (She studied with Beverly Sills' coach.) A member of the New York Public Theater, she made her film debut in 1977's Julia. The following year she earned the first of many Academy Award nominations for her role in The Deer Hunter. That same year she won an Emmy for her performance in the highly-regarded TV mini-series Holocaust. For the remainder of the Seventies she continued to establish herself as an actress of remarkable range and talent, starring as a seductress in The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Woody Allen's ex-wife in Manhattan, and as a wife who abandons her husband (Dustin Hoffman) in Kramer vs. Kramer, for which she won her first Oscar (Best Supporting Actress).
In the 1980s, Streep became the film industry's most respected female lead. Her first starring role came in 1981's The French Lieutenant's Woman, and a performance opposite Jeremy Irons won her yet another Academy Award nomination. As the Holocaust-haunted title character in Sophie's Choice (1982) she won a Best Actress Oscar. Yet another Oscar nomination came her way in 1983 for her role in Silkwood, co-starring Kurt Russell and Cher. In Plenty (1985), she played a courageous French Resistance fighter, and nabbed yet another Academy Award nomination with the role of Karen Blixen in Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985). In her next two films, Heartburn (1986) and Ironweed (1987), Streep co-starred with Jack Nicholson, and in 1988 earned an Oscar nomination for A Cry in the Dark. She closed the decade by demonstrating her comedic flair in She-Devil (1989), co-starring Roseanne Barr.
Streep continued to produce quality work in the '90s, in such films as Postcards From the Edge (1990), The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and One True Thing (1998). In 1999 she received her 12th Academy Award nomination for her performance in Music of the Heart, tying a record held by Katherine Hepburn. Married since 1978 to sculptor Donald Gummer, Streep has four children -- Henry, Mary, Grace and Louisa -- and lives in Connecticut. She is regarded as perhaps the greatest actress of her time. "Meryl's got to be one of those phenomena, like Garbo," said director Mike Nichols, "that happens only once in a generation."

1980s Filmography
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Still of the Night (1982)
Sophie's Choice (1982)
Silkwood (1983)
In Our Hands (1984)
Falling in Love (1984)
Plenty (1985)
Out of Africa (1985)
Heartburn (1986)
Ironweed (1987)
A Cry in the Dark (1988)
She-Devil (1989)

Critic's Comments

Silkwood (1983)
"As played by Meryl Streep, Silkwood is a sassy, slightly promiscuous, resolutely average woman caught up in extraordinary circumstances. The Texas accent, the cheap wardrobe, and the behavior (Karen likes to flash a bare breast now and then to shock her coworkers) come off as cosmetic touches at first. But Streep generates tremendous emotional power."
 -- People Weekly

Heartburn (1986)
"In the movie, the characters are played by Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, and just by seeing their names on the marquee you'd figure the movie would have to be electrifying. But it's not. Here is the story of two people with no chemistry, played by two actors with great chemistry. The only way they can get into character is to play against the very things we like them for. Streep seems dowdy and querulous."
-- Roger Ebert

She-Devil  (1989)
"If [Roseanne) Barr is correctly cast, so is Streep, who has always had a rich vein of comedy bubbling through her personal life . . . but who has dedicated her career to playing serious or even tragic women, most of them with accents.  Here's she given a juicy role to sink her teeth into: Mary Fisher, the bestselling romance novelist who seems like what would happen if the genes of Barbara Cartland, Jackie Collins and Danielle Steele were combined in the same trash compactor. It's a role that calls out for broad, fearless interpretation, and Streep has a lot of fun with it."
--Roger Ebert

1978 -- Emmy, Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series, Holocaust
1980 -- Academy Award, Best Supporting Actress, Kramer vs. Kramer
1980-- Golden Globe, Best Supporting Actress, Kramer vs. Kramer
1982 -- Golden Globe, Best Actress (Drama), The French Lieutenant's Woman
1983 -- Academy Award, Best Actress, Sophie's Choice
1983 -- Golden Globe, Best Actress (Drama), Sophie's Choice
1983 -- People's Choice, Favorite Movie Actress
1989 -- People's Choice, Favorite Movie Actress
1990 -- Peoples' Choice, World Favorite Movie Actress

Streep as Karen Blixen in Out of Africa (1985)

In 1994 Streep provided the voice for Bart Simpson's girlfriend, "Jessica Lovejoy," on the popular animated TV series, The Simpsons.
in 1995, Streep vied for the title role in Evita, arguing that she could sing better than Madonna (who ultimately won the part.)
In 2001, Streep returned to the stage in Chekov's The Seagull, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Kevin Kline, who appeared in Sophie's Choice.