Piper Laurie, iconic star of Carrie and Twin Peaks, dead at 91

Piper Laurie, who starred in a whole slew of classics including The Hustler, Carrie and Twin Peaks, is dead at 91.

Last Updated on November 3, 2023

Piper Laurie

Piper Laurie, who famously played perhaps the scariest movie mom of all time in Carrie, is dead at 91. According to THR, the veteran actress had been unwell for some time. Laurie’s career goes back to the last days of the studio era, with her initially an ingenue for Universal Pictures who starred opposite big heartthrobs of the day like Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis. Yet, she resisted being pigeonholed in those roles, breaking free of her contract to take on meatier parts, such as her Emmy-winning role in the TV production of Days of Wine and Roses, where she played an alcoholic. She earned an Academy Award nomination for her turn opposite Paul Newman in The Hustler but didn’t take another movie role for fifteen years when she returned with a vengeance in Brian DePalma’s Carrie.

In that Stephen King horror classic, she played the deranged mother of Sissy Spacek’s Carrie White, earning another Academy Award nomination. She received another Oscar nod for her role in 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and also played Auntie Em in the controversial Wizard of Oz sequel, Return to Oz. She also played one of the most memorable characters on Twin Peaks, Catherine Martell, a role which earned her a Golden Globe win and two Emmy nominations (an award she won for the TV movie Promise). She stayed busy acting until recently, with her last significant role in White Boy Rick, where she played the titular character’s grandmother. But, it’s her role in Carrie that remains the one she’s best known for. She memorably sent up her “mom from hell” role on the TV show Frasier. Her memoirs caused a big fuss back in 2011, with her claiming she lost her virginity to former president Ronald Reagan (back in his acting days) and that she had an affair with Mel Gibson when he played her young love interest in the Australian film Tim. Indeed, she was one of a kind who lived her best life and off the screen.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.