Piper Laurie (born Rosetta Jacobs; January 22, 1932) is an American actress of stage and screen known for her roles in the television series Twin Peaks and the films The Hustler, Carrie and Children of a Lesser God, all of which brought her Academy Award nominations. In 1991, she won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Catherine Martell in Twin Peaks.
Rosetta Jacobs was born in Detroit, Michigan, the younger daughter of Charlotte Sadie and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Alfred Jacobs moved the family to Los Angeles, California in 1938, where she attended Hebrew school, and to combat her shyness her parents provided her with weekly elocution lessons; this activity eventually led her to minor roles at nearby Universal Studios.
In 1949, Rosetta Jacobs signed a contract with Universal, changing her screen name to Piper Laurie, by which she has been known professionally since. Her breakout role was in Louisa, with Ronald Reagan; several other roles followed before, she moved to New York to study acting and to seek work on the stage and in television.
She was again lured to Hollywood by the offer to co-star with Paul Newman in The Hustler, which was released in 1961. She played Newman’s crippled girlfriend, Sarah Packard, and for her performance she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Substantial movie roles did not come her way after The Hustler, so she moved back to New York State.
She accepted the role of Margaret White in the film Carrie (1976), and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in that role. In the original film adaptation by Brian De Palma, Margaret is considerably more attractive than as depicted in the novel.
Her past was not explored as it was in the novel, and her husband Ralph was only mentioned briefly. Margaret claims that Ralph was carried away by the devil, but Carrie (Sissy Spacek) corrects her that he actually left her for another woman. As in the novel, Margaret reveals that she had sex with Ralph twice: once prior to marriage (after which she wanted to kill herself), and once more after they were married, when he was drunk and forced himself on her (she resisted, but confesses she enjoyed the act regardless), leading to the conception of Carrie.
Upon learning of her daughter’s telekinetic abilities, Margaret becomes convinced that Carrie is a witch, and recalls Exodus 22:18 from the Bible (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”), which interprets as charging her to purify Carrie by killing her. While Carrie is at the prom, Margaret snaps mentally; she is seen pacing in the kitchen, then beginning to chop a carrot with a butcher knife, and continuing to chop the cutting board even after the carrot rolls away. After Carrie returns home, Margaret tells her about the night she was conceived by marital rape, then stabs her in the back with the butcher knife while leading her in the Lord’s Prayer. As Carrie tries to crawl away, Margaret makes a cross motion with the knife and stalks her through the house with a delirious look in her eyes. She corners Carrie and raises the knife to strike again, but Carrie flings various kitchen elements from the drawers at her, impaling her. Margaret dies in the same pose as the frightening statue of Saint Sebastian in Carrie’s “prayer closet”.
After her 1981 divorce, Laurie relocated to California. In 1986, she received a third Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Mrs. Norman in Children of a Lesser God. That same year she was awarded an Emmy for her performance in Promise, a television movie, co-starring James Garner and James Woods.
In 1990-91, she starred as the devious Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks. She also appeared in Dario Argento’s first American film Trauma (1993). In 1998, she appeared in the sci-fi thriller The Faculty. She made guest appearances on television shows such as Frasier, State of Grace, Cold Case, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She returned to the big screen for independent films such as Eulogy and The Dead Girl, however, she’ll always be remembered as horror fan favourite, Margaret White, Julianne Moore has big shoes to fill in the 2013 remake.
This entry was posted on January 22, 2013 by Geordie. It was filed under Biography, Biography: ACTORS and was tagged with Awards, Brian De Palma, Carrie (1976), Carrie remake, Carrie White, Classic, David Lynch, Horror, Icons, Remakes, Stephen King, Suspense, Thriller, Twin Peaks.