Hollywood Legend Shirley MacLaine
She's played a retired ballerina (The Turning Point), a brash good-time girl (Some Came Running), a lovelorn mistress (The Apartment), an overbearing mother (Terms of Endearment) and a grouchy, sharp-tongued widow (Steel Magnolias). Shirley's diverse acting career has spanned more than five decades and earned her a place among Tinseltown's finest performers.
Shirley is here to talk about her fascinating life, past lives, former loves, honest confessions and everything in between.
Shirley's starring roles: Look back at some of her most magical movie moments
"She's been criticized a lot, but I think she has been so misunderstood," Oprah says. "[She is] one of my greatest teachers."
Hear what Shirley has to say about the criticism she's received through the years
Now, at 76, Shirley has written a 12th book—I'm Over All That—a no-holds-barred work filled with the issues that Shirley is "over" and how these things have played out in her life. "I think it's one of your best ones," Oprah says to Shirley.
Watch Shirley talk about being over "sex-capades" and what sex means to her now
"The brilliance of old Hollywood, particularly with the live performers, ... [is] they always told the truth about everything," Shirley says. "[There was] authenticity about their lives. About what they were afraid of. For example, Dean and Frank would be [onstage] and Frank would tell a joke—but nobody would laugh. Then Frank would throw it to Dean and say, 'You tell the joke.' Everybody would convulse. Frank would say, 'Why didn't they laugh at me?' And Dean would say, 'You're just not funny, Frank.'"
"When you were in it with Frank Sinatra and Dean and Sammy Davis Jr., ... did you know then what it was?" Oprah asks. "Did you know that it held the level of glamour and Hollywood-ism that it now holds?"
"No," Shirley answers. "I didn't know who they were."
"I wasn't attracted to Jack [Lemmon]. He was a sweetheart," she says. "He didn't have that dangerous, complicated sexual thing that I liked helping the man I was attracted to figure out."
"I think Jack Nicholson has all that dangerous chemistry," Oprah says. "He does not?"
"Too much for me!" Shirley says.
In her book, Shirley confesses which of her co-stars and co-workers she was attracted to. "[I had] quite a relationship with Robert Mitchum," she recalls. "Yves Montand...I was attracted to some of the directors ... And everyone knows that what happened on a set stays on a set. No one talked."
Read an excerpt from I'm Over All That all about Shirley's former loves
Today, Shirley says her relationship with Warren is still going strong. "It's terrific," she says. "I see him whenever I'm in California."
"I walked into the house ... not intending to buy a house," she says. "I sensed that there was a dancer that died at the top of the stairway and that she now wanted me to have this house. So, I called the person I was dealing with and bought the house without even looking at the rest of it."
Now, her home is filled with Hollywood history, from her "Wall of Life" that features countless photographs of Shirley with her famous friends to her dining room that features the furniture used in Terms of Endearment.
Forty-five miles away from her home is Shirley's 8,000-acre ranch—a self-sufficient property that's totally off the grid with its wind turbine and solar panels for electricity, fireplaces for heat and small greenhouses for fresh fruit and vegetables year round.
Take an exclusive tour of Shirley's two peaceful properties
As a firm believer in UFOs, Shirley says that she believes extraterrestrials are attracted to the many crystals around New Mexico. "Crystals amplify the consciousness," she says. "They're attracted to that crystal amplification."
She says she has never seen an alien but says their teaching is that the soul does not die. "The soul is everlasting, and its learning experience is lifetime after lifetime," Shirley says.
Read an excerpt from I'm Over All That about four of Shirley's past lives
"Nobody's dead, so why am I going to a funeral?" she says.
Shirley believes that instead of dying, people shed their bodies and literally pass on. "[You] go to another level of understanding until you decide to come back to the schoolroom again—Earth," she says. "It could be that you decide to reincarnate on another planet. That's why we're so interested in star nations and extraterrestrials and so forth, because we probably had experiences there and it's in our memory system."
"Yes, because we have all been so many people," Shirley says. "We've had so many lifetimes of different cultures and different religions and different points of view and different wars and different loves and different children."
"Then why—if we've been all those people—do you feel that it's so difficult for other people to open up and accept other people of the world?" Oprah asks.
"Because we don't have a spiritual education in our schools," Shirley says. "Not a religious education. Spiritual education. If they would teach us from the time we're little to meditate and get in touch with all that our souls know, we wouldn't fight so much."
Watch Shirley talk about meditation on her Oprah Show appearance in 1986
"You know where it comes from? It comes from a tremendous sense of your own self-worth," Oprah says. "You know that your own value is within yourself and you don't have to get it outside yourself."
This sense of self-worth may have fueled Shirley's independent nature, which she says manifests itself in her past relationships and life today. "I felt very comfortable being alone," she says. "That's why I live alone now. That's why I never had a conventional marriage. That's why I loved to travel [alone]."
Watch Shirley explain why she had an unconventional open marriage for years with her ex-husband, Steve Parker
"No, that's their problem," Shirley laughs. "I try to make [myself] simply understood. I do know that's my task."
Watch Shirley explain how the idea for I'm Over All That came about
What Shirley has learned throughout her life is to be yourself and surrender to what is. She says, "If you're comfortable with yourself—which everyone can get to, to some extent—that's when you start getting into who is your real self."
More on Shirley MacLaine:
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- Watch Shirley discuss her beliefs about 2012
- Watch Shirley talk about channeling the real Madame Sousatzka for her role in that film