The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Virginia Madsen
The daughter of an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, Virginia Madsen (b. 9.11.63) grew up in and around Chicago and attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL. She got into acting at Northwestern University. She honed her craft in Chicago's Ted Liss Acting Studio as well as the Harand Camp Adult Theater Seminar in Elkhart Lake, WI. She played in independent theaters in the Chicago area before moving to California with her fiance Billy Campbell.  Making her film debut in 1983's Class,Virginia was deemed by some a modern-day Marilyn Monroe. A talented actress and stunning blonde beauty, her classic looks probably robbed her of real starmaking roles. Still, she made the most of what was offered her. Throughout the 1980s, she decorated such films as Electric Dreams (1984), Dune (1984) and Creator (1985). The lead roles she did land were in such forgettable vehicles as Fire With Fire (1986) and 1987's Slamdance. The low point in her career can be marked by Zombie High (1987) and Hot to Trot (1988), but she came back strong in the Nineties, with a strong and uninhibited role in Dennis Hopper's The Hot Spot, co-starring Don Johnson and Jennifer Connelly, as well as the above-average horror film Candyman (1992). She really shone in made-for-TV movies such as The Hearst and Davies Affair, in which she played Marion Davies to Robert Mitchum's William Randolph Hearst. Other notable TV movies include Gotham (1988), Third Degree Burn (1989) and A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus Story (1992).
Married briefly to director Danny Huston, Madsen has a child in 1994 by television actor Antonio Sabato, Jr. Her brother, Michael, is an accomplished actor in his own right.

1980s Filmography

Class (1983)
A Matter of Principle (1983)
Electric Dreams (1984)
Dune (1984)
Creator (1985)
The Hearst and Davies Affair (TV-1985)
Modern Girls (1986)
Fire with Fire (1986)
Long Gone (TV-1987)
Slamdance (1987)
Zombie High (1987)
Mr. North (1988)
Gotham (TV-1988)
Hot to Trot (1988)
Third Degree Burn (TV-1989)
Heart of Dixie (1989)

Critics' Comments

Electric Dreams (1984)
"It's a high-tech triangle: boy, girl, and oversexed machine. True love triumphs, but is it a match made in heaven or Silicon Valley? While [Lenny] Von Dohlen and [Virginia] Madsen make a charming screen couple, Bud Cort steals the film as the voice of Edgar, a villain with a printed circuit where his heart should be."
-- People Weekly

Modern Girls (1986)
"That brings me, by a roundabout way, to the one reason to see this movie, which is sheer appreciation of beauty. [Daphne] Zuniga and [Virginia] Madsen are two of the most beautiful women in the recent history of the movies (Gibb is more of a best-pal type), and they look great here." -- Roger Ebert

Heart of Dixie (1989)
"Ally Sheedy, Virginia Madsen and Phoebe Cates combine their negligible talents in "Heart of Dixie" -- a melodrama so full of hams, it oinks. Led by Sheedy, the tedious trio plays giddy coeds caught up in the racist and sexist traditions of the South in the late '50s. They all sound like they've been gulping hush puppy batter."
-- Rita Kempley, Washington Post