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Shirley MacLaine© Getty Images

Shirley MacLaine turns 90! Check out transformative photos spanning her seven decades in the spotlight

The Oscar-winning actress is one of the last surviving stars of the fall of the studio era of Hollywood

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
April 24, 2024
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Happy birthday Shirley MacLaine! The screen icon celebrates her 90th birthday today, April 24, and also marks nearly seven decades in the spotlight.

The movie legend has been a mainstay of Hollywood since the very start of her career in the 1950s, one of the last remaining stars of the era of cinema that marked the fall of the studio system.

Check out these transformative photos of the actress capturing the biggest moments of her illustrious career over the past 70 years…

Shirley MacLaine, actress of Paramount Pictures, soon to be seen in the movie The Trouble With Harry.© Getty Images

1955 – Debut with "The Trouble with Harry"

In 1955, MacLaine made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, and immediately made an impression, winning the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress.

She was able to quickly follow that up with some of the best remembered movies of the late 1950s, including the Best Picture winning Around the World in 80 Days (1956), playing Princess Aouda, and Some Came Running (1958) opposite Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, earning her very first Academy Award for Best Actress nomination at just 24.

American actress Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik and Jack Lemmon (1925 - 2001) as C.C. 'Bud' Baxter in a scene from 'The Apartment', directed by Billy Wilder, 1960.© Getty Images

1960 – "The Apartment" and major stardom

In 1960, MacLaine starred in The Apartment opposite Jack Lemmon, a role which has come to define her career of playing emotionally rich yet endearingly quirky women. The film became an instant comedic classic and won the Oscar for Best Picture, but the actress memorably lost Best Actress to Elizabeth Taylor for BUtterfield 8.

READ: Nicole Kidman's drastic appearance change – and how it won her an Oscar

She followed that up with further successes in projects like Irma la Douce and Sweet Charity, establishing herself as a Hollywood juggernaut with a cracker personality especially after punching The Hollywood Reporter columnist Mike Connolly in the mouth.

Paul Newman and Shirley MacLaine during "Stars for McGovern" Benefit Fundraiser at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, United States.© Getty Images

1977 – Film dip and "The Turning Point"

MacLaine spent a majority of the '70s bouncing between mediums, starring in the hit 1970 Western Two Mules for Sister Sara, and following that up with a short-lived sitcom, Shirley's World.

After a brief turn to the theater and political activism, she made her comeback in 1977 with the Oscar-nominated The Turning Point, following that up with 1979's Being There, entering a new phase of her on-screen persona.

Los Angeles: Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson (R-Best Supporting Actor for Terms of Endearment), Shirley Maclaine (C-Best Actress for Terms of Endearment) and James Brooks (L-Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing for Terms of Endearment) greet the press holding their Oscars and extremely happy.© Getty Images

1983 and the '90s – "Terms of Endearment" and Oscar glory

Her turn in 1983's comedy-drama Terms of Endearment opposite Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson became one of the year's biggest box office hits, and finally earned her the coveted Academy Award. She followed that up with successes like Steel Magnolias (1989) and Postcards From the Edge (1990).

It was at this point MacLaine became widely known for her thoughts on metaphysics, reincarnation, extraterrestrials, and more, particularly with the release of her 1983 memoir Out on a Limb and its accompanying 1987 TV special.

RELATED: Jack Nicholson sports beard and wild hair in last public photograph as actor turns 87

Shirley MacLaine at the 2023 Industry Dance Awards held at Avalon Hollywood on October 18, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.© Getty Images

The 21st century – TV and beyond

In the past two decades, the actress has pivoted to limited film roles and more TV projects, making appearances in shows like Downton Abbey, the Lifetime production Coco Before Chanel (which earned her a Primetime Emmy), and Only Murders in the Building.

In an interview with People, the star announced on her milestone birthday that she will celebrate her legacy with The Wall of Life, a book including several photos and stories from her life, out October 22. "I have lived a wonderful life and I wanted to share it," she shared.

MORE: Only Murders in the Building season four – everything you need to know

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