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Warren Beatty - Biography

Warren Beatty's love life has faced as much speculation as his acting career, yet he remains a Hollywood legend

Warren Beatty - Biography
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Warren Beatty's life is the stuff of Hollywood legend and not just because he's been nominated for 14 Oscars. His famous greeting to the ladies "What's new, pussycat?" became the title of a hit film and a classic tune, while his womanising style reportedly made him the subject of Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain'.

Then there was the quip by former fiancée Joan Collins that he was "the only man to get to the mirror faster than me", and the fact that the street the handsome star shared with Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando was dubbed "Bad Boy Drive". His notorious love life cemented his icon status in Tinseltown, but the one-time lady-killer who married for the first time aged 54 is now a one-woman man. 

Early life

Henry Warren Beatty was born on March 30, 1937, in Richmond, Virginia, to Ira, a psychology professor, and Kathlyn (née MacLean), a teacher. He and his elder sister Shirley who would later find fame as Shirley MacLaine attended Washington and Lee High School in Arlington. The aspiring actor went on to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, but dropped out after one year to study with famed acting coach Stella Adler. 


Warren got his big break aged 22 with his three-episode TV debut in the teen series The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, and then headed for the bright lights of Broadway. His performance in William Inge's A Loss Of Roses garnered him a Tony nomination in 1961, and Inge recommended the budding actor for his big-screen breakthrough in the classic, Splendor In The Grass. 

Charismatic and oozing sex appeal, the star became every girl's dream, on and off the screen, compounding his love 'em and leave 'em reputation when he left Joan Collins to begin an affair with his equally glamorous co-star Natalie Wood. The 6ft 1in hunk played up his heart-throb image over the next five years in a string of hit and miss projects, settling into his stride in 1967's Bonnie And Clyde alongside Faye Dunaway. 

The classic film, the first Warren produced, was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Actor for the star. Keen to become more involved behind-the-scenes, he produced and co-wrote Shampoo a bawdy romp in which he spoofed his oversexed image and made his directing debut alongside Buck Henry in 1978's Heaven Can Wait, which snagged ten Oscar nominations. In 1981, he won a Best Director Oscar for Reds (one of 12 nominations for the film), which he also produced, co-wrote and starred in. 

With his sporadic career he has made only 23 movies since 1961 and was completely absent from the scene for the first half of the Eighties. Warren nonetheless seemed to score a hit every time he did take to the set until 1987. 

With the release of the bomb Ishtar many wondered if the actor had passed his peak. Disaster or not, Warren surprised no one when he again paired up with his co-star Isabelle Adjani. After Ishtar, Warren took a break from the Hollywood scene. "I wanted to live life, so I've tried to have a life and not walk around, as Cary Grant once said to me, tripping on cables on sound stages," he explained. 

Personal life

Warren Beatty's private life was, for the longest time, deeply public as he was alleged to have been linked to over 100 women; Reds actress Diane Keaton joined his long list of girlfriends, which included his three-time co-star Julie Christie and actress Leslie Caron, whose then-husband cited Warren in their divorce papers. 

In 1990, while he was promoting his comeback flick, Dick Tracy, the press was as curious as ever about his private life, especially when he got involved with his co-star Madonna, who he called "more fun than a barrel of monkeys". 

The Material Girl reportedly claimed she'd be the one to get the confirmed bachelor to the altar, but it wasn't such an easy task. "I do believe in marriage," Warren once said. "I always felt when you take those vows and say 'Till death do us part' that meant until death do you part. I've always questioned whether I would be able." 

The actor got his answer when he met American Beauty star Annette Bening on the set of 1991's Bugsy. He said of meeting the actress: "When I met Annette over lunch for Bugsy, I felt immediately that this was going to change my life", explaining that "I remember losing interest in the garlic chicken I was eating within 20 seconds. And the garlic chicken had been very good!"

The two were married on March 12, 1992, two months after their first daughter, Kathlyn Elizabeth, was born. The couple now have four children Benjamin, who was born in 1994, Stephen Ira, three years older, and Ella Corinne, born in 2000. 

With his private life settled for more than a decade, the longtime Democrat continues to make news with his political views, some of which were the focus of 1998's controversial Bulworth. He toyed with the idea of a real-life US presidential bid, a plan he eventually dropped in favour of helping others get elected. 

"I'm an actor and I make movies, and every once in a while I make a speech," he explained. "I'm a person who thinks we're going to have to do something sooner rather than later about things like health care and campaign finance, and I think this is the way to do it." 

The actor-writer-director and proud owner of lifetime Oscar and BAFTA awards says he'll always be politically active, although he still insists he has no intention of entering the 2004 presidential race. "I'm not running for anything," he says. "And that's probably a good thing."

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