The youngest of three daughters, Kathleen 'Kathy' Doyle Bates was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to a homemaker and a mechanical engineer on June 28, 1948. After getting into acting via a high school play, the future Dolores Claiborne and Titanic star went on to major in theatre at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1969.
New York beginnings
In 1970, aspiring actress Kathy opted to head to New York to pursue her career. A year later, and Kathy was making her feature film debut in the comedy Taking Off. However, the young star encountered difficulties getting her career to take off after several casting agents said she wasn't sufficiently attractive to play the types of roles she wanted.
Over the next five years, Kathy concentrated on stage roles and TV bit parts, including a cameo on an episode of The Love Boat. In 1980, her Broadway career kicked off, and she went on to originate Stella May in Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, reprising the part for the Robert Altman film version in 1982.
After finding popularity as Stella May, Kathy was soon known as one of theatre's top actresses, scooping a Tony nomination for her turn in 'night Mother. However, in the mid-80s, Kathy's career hit another slow patch. For a few years, her main roles were supporting parts on TV, including a brief appearance in the US soap All My Children.
Meanwhile, she lost another important on-screen role when Michelle Pfeiffer took the part of the waitress in the off-Broadway hit Frankie And Johnny in its 1987 film adaptation – despite the fact the role was originally written for Kathy specifically on stage. Once again, however, Kathy's career soon took a turn for the better.
After 20 years in the industry, the then 42-year-old actress became an "overnight" Hollywood star after her role as a psychotic fan in Misery earned her a best actress Academy Award in 1991. Then, after starring in the well-received Fried Green Tomatoes, the veteran actress made her TV directorial debut on the PBS production Talking With.
As she continued her acting career with memorable roles in Dolores Claiborne, Titanic and Primary Colors, Kathy also continued to pursue her interests behind the camera, helming episodes of Homicide: Life On The Street, NYPD Blue, Oz and the hugely successful TV series Six Feet Under. In 1999, Kathy was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Primary Colors. She was later nominated again in 2002 for About Schmidt, and again for Richard Jewell in 2019.
In 2016, Kathy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The actress is now a very well respected star, known for her more recent roles in films including On the Basis of Sex, The Miracle Club and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Kathy is a cancer survivor, having revealed she has suffered from both ovarian cancer and breast cancer in the past. She also underwent a successful weight-loss journey in the later 2010s. She told Us Weekly: "I have never been in such good health... I feel like a completely different person. I can move, I can walk. I just wish I had done it years ago."
Kathy was married to Tony Campisi from 1991 to 1997, when they divorced. The couple dated for 14 years prior to when they tied the knot.