The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Michelle Pfeiffer

Born 4.29.58 in Santa Ana, California, Michelle was one of four children, with an older brother and two younger sisters. She graduated from Fountain Valley High School in 1976 and aspired to become a court reporter. But in 1978, the slender blonde beauty entered the Miss Orange County Pageant -- and won. She dropped out of Golden West College to pursue an acting career. acquiring an agent who got her work in several commercials before she landed her first speaking part on an episode of Fantasy Island. Michelle would spend most of the 1980s proving that she wasn't just another pretty face -- and by the end of the decade would be acknowledged as one of Hollywood's most versatile actresses.
Her acting career did not get off to a promising start, however. She starred in the short-lived television series B.A.D. Cats about hot-rod cops that, mercifully, was cancelled after five telecasts, and before that had played "The Bombshell" in ABC's Animal House imitation, Delta House, which lasted all of three months. She also appeared in several forgettable made-for-TV movies and in feature films such as the campy Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) and the ill-advised Grease 2 (1982). In 1983 she won a small but important part in Brian de Palma's gory gangster masterpiece Scarface, making a spectacular entrance and dominating every scene she was in, including those shared with star Al Pacino.
It was the kind of performance that could lead to bigger and better things, and Michelle went on to starring roles in such films as Ladyhawke (1985) and Sweet Liberty (1986). She held her own with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon and Cher in 1987's The Witches of Eastwick. But it wasn't until the late '80s that she achieved the status of leading lady, on the basis of stellar performances in films such as Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Tequila Sunrise (1988) and a stunning turn as a sultry chanteuse Suzy Diamond in 1989's The Fabulous Baker Boys. (She won a second Oscar nomination for that role, the first being for her performance in Dangerous Liaisons.) In the 1990s and beyond she would star in such hits as Batman Returns (as Catwoman), Wolf (teaming up again with Jack Nicholson) and the modern horror classic What Lies Beneath (2000).

1980s Filmography
The Hollywood Knights (1980)
Falling in Love Again (1980)
Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981)
Grease 2 (1982)
Scarface (1983)
Ladyhawke (1985)
Into the Night (1985)
Sweet Liberty (1986)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
Married to the Mob (1988)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Tequila Sunrise (1988)
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)


Critics' Comments
Scarface (1983)
"Michelle Pfeiffer, undeterred by the fiasco of Grease 2, makes one of the sexiest entrances in screen history."
-- People Weekly

Sweet Liberty (1986)
"The delectable Pfeiffer delivers a wickedly funny send-up of the kind of actress who'd bed or betray anyone to improve her performance."
-- People Weekly

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
"Sukie [Ridgemont] is a more substantial part for Pfeiffer, who is best known for her supporting work as Scarface's wife. She's exquisite and sweetly intent."
-- Rita Kempley, Washington Post

Married to the Mob (1988)
"As an almost-mad housewife in Mafia Heights, Long Island, Michelle Pfeiffer is delicately riotous."
-- Desson Howe, Washington Post

Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
"The other key roles, played by [Michelle] Pfeiffer and [Uma] Thurman, are trickier, because they involve characters who should not be entirely aware of what is really happening. Both actresses are well cast for their roles, and for Pfeiffer, in a year that has seen her in varied assignments such as Married to the Mob and Tequila Sunrise, the movie is more evidence of her versatility. She is good when she is innocent and superb when she is guilty."
-- Roger Ebert

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
"The jewel in this setting is Susie Diamond, a chanteuse in the rough played by Michelle Pfeiffer, slinky and cynical, more Bacall than Bacall. Like the sun through a magnifying glass, she burns an image on the screen."
-- Rita Kempley, Washington Post

Pfeiffer with Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon
and Cher in The Witches of Eastwick


Awards
1990--British Academy Awards, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Dangerous Liaisons
1990--Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, The Fabulous Baker Boys
1990--National Society of Film Critics Award, Best Actress, The Fabulous Baker Boys


In 1990 and again in 1999, Michelle was chosen as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine.
In 1997, Empire Magazine ranked Michelle #39 in its Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time list. In 1995 Empire ranked her #3 in its 100 Sexiest Stars list.
Michelle was not initially chosen to play Catwoman in 1992's Batwoman Returns, but rather replaced Annette Bening. And Madonna was originally slated for the role of Suzy Diamond in The Fabulous Baker Boys.
Michelle tried out for a starring role in the TV series Charlie's Angels in 1976 but lost out to Shelley Hack.
Michelle married actor Gary Horton (thirtysomething) in 1981; when that relationship ended she spent three years with Fisher Stevens. In 1993 she married writer/producer David Kelley and adopted a baby girl, Claudia Rose. In 1994, Michelle and her husband had a son, John Henry.
Michelle's younger sister Dedee is also an actress, with a film career that includes movies like Moving Violations (1985), The Allnighter (1987), Double Exposure (1993) and Up Close & Personal (1986). Michelle's other sister, Lori, decided not to pursue an acting career.