Born Mary Kathleen Turner in Springfield, Missouri, Turner's parents were
career diplomats, and she lived in four foreign countries--Canada, Cuba,
Venezuela, and England while growing up. Turner has two brothers and a sister.
She was a gymnast as a teenager. While attending high school in London, she also
took classes at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Her father, Richard
Turner, grew up in China and was a foreign services diplomat who was imprisoned
by the Japanese for four years during World War II. When her father died of
cancer in 1973, the family moved back to Springfield. Turner's brother Stephan
was married to designer Donna Karan.
Kathleen Turner attended Southwest Missouri State University at Springfield for two years, then gained her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1977. In 1978, the 5'10" husky voiced Turner was hired as the second Nola Turner on NBC daytime soap The Doctors, but was fired the next year because the producers felt she was "not hot enough". Turner had the last laugh as she became a movie star a few years later in Body Heat, which many consider one of the s--iest films (with Turner giving one of the s--iest performances) in the history of cinema. Turner remained a film star up to the early 1990s, but has since rarely appeared in major productions.
During her heyday, she rose to fame as the leading-lady star of Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas, Prizzi's Honor with Jack Nicholson, Peggy Sue Got Married with Nicolas Cage, and The War of the Roses with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito. Her career began to slide with her appearances in increasingly low-budget and low-profile films. Turner is noteworthy for doing her own stunts in her films, and she broke her nose in V.I. Warshawski.
In addition to the television work listed above, Kathleen Turner has also appeared as a guest on Friends (as the transvestite father of Chandler Bing), King of the Hill (voice), The Simpsons (voice), and Saturday Night Live, which she hosted twice. Turner spoke the voice of s--y Jessica Rabbit in the toon-noir "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" in 1988.
In 2000 Turner starred as Mrs, Robinson in the London revival of The Graduate. In March 2005, she starred, with Bill Irwin, as Martha in a revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway.
Because of Kathleen Turner's deep voice, she was often compared to a young Lauren Bacall. When the two met, Turner reportedly introduced herself to Bacall by saying "Hi, I'm the young you."
Kathleen Turner was immortalized in the 1980s song "The Kiss of Kathleen Turner" by Austrian techno-pop singer Falco. She received a lifetime achievement award from the Savannah College of Art and Design at the Savannah Film Festival in October 2004.
Kathleen Turner was nominated for an Oscar for best actress in 1987 for her role in Peggy Sue Got Married. She received two Golden Globe awards, both for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, for Romancing the Stone (1984) and Prizzi's Honor (1985) and she won the L.A. Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress for Ken Russell's Crimes of Passion(1984).
Kathleen Turner lived with agent David Guc from 1977–82 and was married to New York real-estate mogul Jay Weiss from 1984–2005. They have a daughter, Rachel Ann Weiss, born October 14, 1987. Turner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1992. On December 3, 1999, Turner checked herself into Marworth in Waverly, Pennsylvania for alcohol abuse.
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