Photo: Gjon Mili/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
1. Around the World in 80 Days, 1956
In this Academy Award-winning film, Shirley plays a Hindu princess who ends up joining the main character, Phileas Fogg, played by David Niven, on his hot-air balloon journey around the world. The movie is also filled with cameos by Hollywood legends like Frank Sinatra
, Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, Peter Lorre and more.
Photo: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
2. Some Came Running, 1958
Some Came Running
stars Shirley MacLaine alongside friends Frank Sinatra
and Dean Martin. In it, army veteran, former writer and alcoholic Dave (played by Frank) returns to his seemingly pristine, status-driven hometown only to gravitate toward the wrong side of the tracks—where he finds the vulgar Ginny Moorehead (Shirley) and professional gambler Bama Dillert (Dean). Worlds collide and hypocrisy comes to light as Dave struggles between the respectable circle his own brother has fostered and the rougher life to which he is drawn.
The film earned five Oscar® nominations, including Shirley's first Best Actress nod for her performance.
Photo: MGM Studios/Getty Images
3. The Sheepman, 1958
In this Western, Shirley plays Dell Payton, a woman in cattle country who falls for the town's newcomer, Jason Sweet, who has recently won a herd of sheep in a poker game. Though the townsfolk—including Dell's local suitor, played by Leslie Nielsen—challenge Sweet's arrival, he stands his ground in several showdowns.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
4. The Apartment, 1960
, in which she stars alongside Jack Lemmon
, earned Shirley her second Oscar nomination and is one of her most well-known films. Both a comedy and a drama, this five-time Academy Award-winning film tells the story of C.C. Baxter (Jack), an office drone who allows philandering managers to use his apartment for their affairs in exchange for a promotion. The setup becomes a problem when his own love interest, Fran Kubelik (Shirley), becomes involved with Baxter's boss.
Photo: Ralph Crane/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
5. Can-Can, 1960
Another film starring Shirley and Frank Sinatra
is the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical. In it, Shirley plays a dance hall owner whose performances of the splashy, illegal can-can dance tend to get her and her dancer employees in trouble with the law. When an ambitious young judge tries to bring the performances to an end, Shirley's character faces her biggest challenge yet.
Photo: Allan Grant/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
6. The Children's Hour, 1961
In this Oscar-nominated film, Shirley plays Martha, a woman who opens a private school for girls along with her former college classmate Karen, played by Audrey Hepburn. When one child's vengeful lie fuels untrue rumors of a lesbian relationship between Martha and Karen, tragic repercussions rock the school.
Photo: Gjon Mili/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
7. Irma La Douce, 1963
Another film starring both Shirley and Jack Lemmon
, Irma La Douce
was directed by Billy Wilder, who had also directed the duo in The Apartment
. In this controversial comedy, Shirley plays a popular Parisian prostitute named Irma with whom Jack's character, an ex-cop named Nestor, has fallen in love. Nestor concocts a plan to keep Irma off the streets, but things don't go as smoothly as planned.
Photo: Mark Kauffman/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
8. What a Way to Go!, 1964
The star-studded cast of this black comedy includes Shirley, Paul Newman, Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum
, Gene Kelly, Margaret Dumont and Dick Van Dyke. Shirley plays Louisa May Foster, a four-time widow who married poor men she loved, only to end up a rich (and unhappy) widow. Why does this keep happening? Is she cursed? Will she ever find true happiness? A visit to the psychiatrist reveals the whole story.
Photo: Denis Cameron/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
9. The Yellow Rolls-Royce, 1964
The Yellow Rolls-Royce tells the story of three very different owners of the title car: a British aristocrat (Rex Harrison), a Mafia big-timer in Italy (George C. Scott) and his spoiled fiancée Mae (Shirley), and a wealthy American widow touring Europe (Ingrid Bergman).
Photo: Paramount Home Entertainment
10. Terms of Endearment, 1983
Covering the course of several decades, Terms of Endearment
tells the story of mother Aurora (Shirley) and daughter Emma (Debra Winger)—their difficult relationship, lifelong searches for love and tragic ending. The film also stars Jack Nicholson
as Aurora's love interest and won both him and Shirley Best Actor and Best Actress Awards, respectively.
11. Steel Magnolias, 1989
This comedy-drama follows several years in the lives of six close-knit women whose lives always come together at a Louisiana beauty parlor, owned by Truvy (Dolly Parton
) who also employs Annelle (Daryl Hannah). Shirley plays a grouchy, pessimistic widow named Ouiser who is closest with another widow, the cheerful Clairee (Olympia Dukakis), while Sally Field
plays Truvy's good friend M'Lynn and Julia Roberts
plays M'Lynn's daughter. Weddings, holidays, divorces and pregnancies come and go as the women's lives take on the complexities of humor, heartbreak and, ultimately, tragedy.
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Published on April 11, 2011