Where in the Horror are they Now? Shelley Duvall!

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

the shining, shelley duvall, stanley kubrick, stephen king, jack nicholson,


THEN: There are performances in horror that truly stand out for audiences. Good or bad, they leave an impression, and today I thought would be nice to revisit one of those iconic turns. Yet for this accomplished actress, it is only fair we start from the beginning. After all, she is a unique talent who is also an accomplished producer of children’s television. In fact, this week’s Where in the Horror are they Now subject started off a very promising career way back in the 1970’s with the amazingly filmmaker Robert Altman. You could find the unusual yet charismatic Shelley Duvall in six of Altman’s features including BREWSTER McCLOUD (1970), McCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971), THIEVES LIKE US (1974), NASHVILLE (1975) and 3 WOMEN (1977) which earned the actress a ton of accolades.

The sixth feature Duvall did with Altman is not really meant for AITH, but it is a wonderfully wacky film that should be addressed. Very few actors can truly take on a character so perfectly that you can’t imagine anybody else bringing it to life. And yes, Shelley did just that in the underrated live action comedy based on the cartoon POPEYE from 1980. She completely inhabits Olive Oyl on ever single level. Both she and co-star Robin Williams, in the titular role, are so beautifully perfect, that I can’t help but love this movie. It is a great work of cinema? Probably not, but it sure is one movie that I always find comfort in. Sorry about the break from horror, but man do I love me some POPEYE.

the shining, shelley duvall, stanley kubrick, stephen king, jack nicholson, popeye, robin williams

Let’s get back to business here, the same year POPEYE arrived, she had another leading role in what many consider one of the finest horror films ever made. THE SHINING is a masterpiece. Stanley Kubrick’s haunted work inspired by Stephen King’s novel is sublime. The images are glorious and the performances are just incredible. Now let’s get to something interesting about this flick. Many of you are probably already aware that King was not a fan of the movie, nor Duvall’s take on Wendy Torrance. In fact, he has been quoted saying that it was “misogynistic.” Yet I happen to disagree. I think of her Wendy as a woman who has seen serious abuse but she is in denial, afraid to leave the dangerous situation. After all, her husband already attacked her son Danny and she hasn’t left yet. Seems that it may be sadly truthful. This is a character that is put through the ringer yet she still makes it out, and I salute Duvall’s terrified portrayal.

In 1981 Duvall continued to work with yet another master. After working with Altman, Woody Allen in ANNIE HALL (1977), she appeared in the cult classic TIME BANDITS directed by the legendary Terry Gilliam. Again, not terribly genre specific, but it sure as hell is a wonderful little flick. The actress continued to work steadily throughout the years, this includes her performance as “Susan Frankenstein” in Tim Burton’s 1984 short Frankenweenie – which was recently given a big screen adaptation. She appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1986 and the sweetly heartbreaking Steve Martin comedy ROXANNE in 1987. And for all you Hulk Hogan fans, Ms. Duvall appeared in SUBURBAN COMMANDO in 1991.

the shining, shelley duvall, stanley kubrick, stephen king, jack nicholson, faerie tale theatre

Shelley worked on a number of cool projects over the years, including the Steven Soderbergh feature THE UNDERNEATH in 1995 and Jane Campion’s THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY in 1996. Yet when it came to horror, most of her IMDb credits included more family friendly scares. She did voice work in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters in 1997 as well as starred in the comedy horror flick, SHADOW ZONE: MY TEACHER ATE MY HOMEWORK that same year. She appeared in TALE OF THE MUMMY and CASPER MEETS WENDY in 1998. Then in 1999 she appeared in THE 4th FLOOR opposite Juliette Lewis and William Hurt and BIG MONSTER ON CAMPUS in 2000. She sure seemed to love sticking with PG scares. That is perhaps why she went on to work as executive producer/producer on the series Faerie Tale Theatre from 1982 – 1987.

the shining, shelley duvall, stanley kubrick, stephen king, jack nicholson,

NOW: Considering the incredible pedigree of directing talent she’s worked with, and a couple of iconic roles, it is more than a bit strange that her last performance was in 2002 in something called MANNA FROM HEAVEN. So what has she been up too? Apparently not a whole lot. Rumor has it that the sixty-six-year-old actress is living in Texas. According to a couple of reports, she wanders the streets where she lives talking about aliens living inside her. Of course I can’t vouch for this considering the sources, but the story spread big time. It’s certainly a shame that this incredibly bright and talented actress isn’t working, I honestly hope that she has somebody to help her out and be supportive. And who knows, maybe she is happy living in wacky obscurity far away from Hollywood.

Shelley Duvall has always been a favorite of mine. From her work in THE SHINING and POPEYE to the wonderful children’s series she was a part of. So if you happen to run into Shelley over there in Texas, send her my best. And to be fair, this story about her going all crazy did come from the National Enquirer so we aren’t dealing with a very reputable source. If you’d like to know more about her career, you might find a little info on her general Facebook page. However, other than that, it appears that we won’t be seeing much of her anytime soon, at least on the big screen.

Source: AITH

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.