Diane Keaton

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Diane Keaton
Birth name Diane Hall
Born 5 January 1946
Los Angeles, California, USA
Best Actress, 1977
Annie Hall

Diane Keaton (born January 5, 1946), is an American Oscar-winning film actress, director and producer. Keaton began her career on stage, and made her screen debut in 1970. Her first major film role was as Kay Adams in The Godfather (1972), but the films that shaped her early career were those with director and co-star Woody Allen, beginning with Play It Again, Sam (1972). Her next two films for Allen, Sleeper (1973) and Love and Death (1975), established her as a comic actress. Her fourth, Annie Hall (1977), won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Keaton has claimed that she is "tailor-made for comedy".

Keaton took on different kinds of roles to avoid becoming typecast as her Annie Hall persona. She became an accomplished dramatic actress, starting in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and received Academy Award nominations for Reds (1981) and Marvin's Room (1996). Some of her popular later films include Father of the Bride (1991), The First Wives Club (1996), and Something's Gotta Give (2003). Keaton's films have earned a cumulative gross of over USD 1.1  billion in North America. In addition to acting, she is also a photographer, real estate developer, and occasional singer.

Early life and education

Born Diane Hall in Los Angeles, California, Keaton is the oldest of four children. Her father Jack Hall (1921–1990) was a civil engineer, and her mother Dorothy Keaton (b. 1921) was a homemaker and amateur photographer. Her father came from an Irish American Catholic background, and her mother came from a Methodist family. Keaton was raised a Methodist by her mother. Her first ambition to become an actor came after seeing her mother win the "Mrs. Los Angeles" pageant for homemakers. Keaton claimed that the theatricality of the event inspired her to become a stage actor. She has also credited Katharine Hepburn, whom she admires for playing strong and independent women, as one of her inspirations.

Keaton is a 1964 graduate of Santa Ana High School in Santa Ana, California. During her time there she participated in singing and acting clubs at school, and starred as Blanche DuBois in a school production of A Streetcar Named Desire. After graduation she attended Santa Ana College, and later Orange Coast College as an acting student, but dropped out after a year to pursue an entertainment career in Manhattan. Upon joining the Actors' Equity Association she adopted the surname of Keaton, her mother's maiden name, as there was already a registered Diane Hall. For a brief time, she also moonlighted nightclubs with a singing act. She would later revisit her nightclub act in Annie Hall (1977), and in a cameo in Radio Days (1987).

Keaton began studying acting at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York City. She initially studied acting under the Meisner technique, an ensemble acting technique made popular in the 1920s by Sanford Meisner, a New York acting director. She has described her acting technique as, "[being] only as good as the person you're acting with ... As opposed to going it on my own and forging my path to create a wonderful performance without the help of anyone. I always need the help of everyone!" According to her Reds co-star Jack Nicholson, "She approaches a script sort of like a play in that she has the entire script memorized before you start doing the movie, which I don't know any other actors doing that."

In 1968, Keaton became an understudy on the original Broadway production of Hair. She gained some notoriety for her refusal to disrobe in the portions of the musical when the entire cast performed nude, even though nudity in the production was optional for actors. (Those who performed nude received a $50 bonus.) After acting in Hair for nine months, she auditioned for a part in Woody Allen's production of Play It Again, Sam. After nearly being passed over for being too tall (at 5 ft 8 in./1.73 m she is two inches/5 cm taller than Allen), she won the part.



After being nominated for a Tony Award for Play It Again, Sam, Keaton made her film debut in 1970's Lovers and Other Strangers. She followed with guest roles on the television series Love, American Style and Night Gallery. Between films, Keaton appeared in a series of deodorant commercials.

Keaton's breakthrough role came two years later. In 1971 she was cast as Kay Adams, the girlfriend of Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) in Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 blockbuster The Godfather. Coppola noted that he first noticed Keaton in Lovers and Other Strangers, and cast her because of her reputation for eccentricity that he wanted her to bring to the role. (Keaton claims that at the time she was commonly referred to as "the kooky actress" of the film industry.) Her performance in the film was loosely based on her real life experience of making the film, both of which she has described as being "the woman in a world of men". The Godfather was an unparalleled critical and financial success, and won the Best Picture Oscar of 1972.

Two years later she reprised her role in The Godfather, Part II. She was initially reluctant to reprise her role, stating that, "At first, I was skeptical about playing Kay again in the Godfather sequel. But when I read the script, the character seemed much more substantial than in the first movie." In Part II her character had changed dramatically, becoming more embittered about her husband's activities. Even though Keaton received widespread exposure from the films, her character's importance was minimal. Time wrote that she was "invisible in The Godfather and pallid in The Godfather, Part II."

Keaton's other notable films of the 1970s included many collaborations with Woody Allen. Although by the time they made films together their romantic involvement had ended, she played many eccentric characters in several of his comic and dramatic films including Sleeper, Love and Death, Interiors, Manhattan, and a film version of Play It Again, Sam. Allen has gone on to credit Keaton as his muse during his early film career.

In 1977, Keaton starred with Allen in the romantic comedy Annie Hall, in which she played one of her most famous roles. Annie Hall was written and directed by Allen, her paramour at the time, and the film was believed to be autobiographical of his relationship with Keaton. Allen based the character of Annie Hall loosely on Keaton ("Annie" is a nickname of hers, and "Hall" is her original surname). Many of Keaton's mannerisms and her self-deprecating sense of humor were added into the role by Allen. (Director Nancy Meyers has claimed "Diane's the most self-deprecating person alive".) Keaton has also said that Allen wrote the character as an "idealized version" of herself. The two starred as a frequently on-again, off-again couple living in New York City. Her acting was later summed up by CNN as "awkward, self-deprecating, speaking in endearing little whirlwinds of semi-logic", and by Allen as a "nervous breakdown in slow motion." The film was both a major financial and critical success, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Keaton's performance also won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 2006, Premiere magazine ranked Keaton in Annie Hall as 60th on their list of the "100 Greatest Performances of All Time":

Diane Keaton
It's hard to play ditzy. ... The genius of Annie is that despite her loopy backhand, awful driving, and nervous tics, she's also a complicated, intelligent woman. Keaton brilliantly displays this dichotomy of her character, especially when she yammers away on a first date with Alvy (Woody Allen) while the subtitle reads, 'He probably thinks I'm a yoyo.' Yo-yo ? Hardly.
Diane Keaton

Keaton's eccentric fashion from Annie Hall made her an unlikely fashion icon of the late 1970s. Keaton is known to favour men's vintage clothing, and usually appears in public wearing gloves and conservative attire. (A 2005 profile in the San Francisco Chronicle described her as "easy to find. Look for the only woman in sight dressed in a turtleneck. On a 90-degree afternoon in Pasadena.") Her Annie Hall wardrobe in the film consisted mainly of vintage men's clothing, including neckties, vests, baggy pants, and fedora hats. Most of the clothing seen in the film came from Keaton herself, who was already known for her tomboyish clothing style years before Annie Hall, though Ruth Morley and Ralph Lauren reportedly worked on the movie's costume. Soon after the film's release, men's clothing and pantsuits became popular attire for women. Keaton would later reprise her Annie Hall appearance when she attended the 2003 Academy Awards presentation in a men's tuxedo and a bowler hat. Keaton also became a frequent target of fashion critic Mr. Blackwell, having made his annual "Worst Dressed List" on five occasions.

Her photo by Douglas Kirkland appeared on the cover of the September 26, 1977, issue Time magazine with the story dubbing her "the funniest woman now working in films." Later that year, she departed from her usual lighthearted comic roles when she accepted a role in the drama Looking for Mr. Goodbar, based on the novel by Judith Rossner. In the film she played a Catholic schoolteacher for deaf children who lives a double life, spending nights frequenting singles bars and engaging in promiscuous sex. Keaton became interested in the role after seeing it as a "psychological case history." The same issue of Time commended her role choice and criticized the restricted roles available for female actors in American films:

Diane Keaton
A male actor can fly a plane, fight a war, shoot a badman, pull off a sting, impersonate a big cheese in business or politics. Men are presumed to be interesting. A female can play a wife, play a whore, get pregnant, lose her baby, and, um, let's see ... Women are presumed to be dull. ... Now a determined trend spotter can point to a handful of new films whose makers think that women can bear the dramatic weight of a production alone, or virtually so. Then there is Diane Keaton in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. As Theresa Dunn, Keaton dominates this raunchy, risky, violent dramatization of Judith Rossner's 1975 novel about a schoolteacher who cruises singles bars.
Diane Keaton

In addition to acting, Keaton has stated that "[I] had a lifelong ambition to be a singer." She had a brief career as a recording artist in the late 1970s. Her first record was an original cast recording of Hair, in 1971. In 1977 she began recording tracks for a solo album, but the finished record never materialized.


After Manhattan in 1979, Keaton and Woody Allen ended their long working relationship, and the film would be their last major collaboration until 1993. In 1978 Keaton became romantically involved with Warren Beatty, and two years later he cast her to play opposite of him in Reds. In the film she played Louise Bryant, a journalist and suppressed housewife in 1917, who flees from her husband to work with radical journalist John Reed (Beatty), and later enters Russia to locate him as he chronicles the Russian Civil War. The New York Times wrote that Keaton was, "nothing less than splendid as Louise Bryant - beautiful, selfish, funny and driven. It's the best work she has done to date." Keaton received her second Academy Award nomination for the film.

Beatty cast Keaton after seeing her in Annie Hall, as he wanted to bring her natural nervousness and insecure attitude to the role. The production of Reds was delayed several times since its conception in 1977, and Keaton almost left the project when she believed it would never be produced. Filming finally began two years later. In a 2006 Vanity Fair story, Keaton described her role as "the everyman of that piece, as someone who wanted to be extraordinary but was probably more ordinary ... I knew what it felt like to be extremely insecure." Assistant director Simon Relph later stated that Louise Bryant was one of her most difficult roles, and that "[she] almost got broken."

In 1984, The Little Drummer Girl, Keaton's unsuccessful first excursion into the thriller and action genre. The Little Drummer Girl was both a financial and critical failure, with critics claiming that Keaton was miscast for the genre, such as one review from The New Republic claiming that "the title role, the pivotal role, is played by Diane Keaton, and around her the picture collapses in tatters. She is so feeble, so inappropriate." Two years later she starred in Crimes of the Heart, a moderately successful comedy with Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek. She starred in her first commercial vehicle with 1987's Baby Boom, her first of four collaborations with writer-producer Nancy Meyers. In Baby Boom Keaton starred as a Manhattan career woman who is suddenly forced to care for a newborn baby. That same year she made a cameo in Allen's film Radio Days as a nightclub singer. 1988's The Good Mother was a misstep for Keaton. The film was a financial disappointment (According to Keaton, the film was "a Big Failure. Like, BIG failure"), and some critics panned her performance, such was one review from The Washington Post: "her acting degenerates into hype -- as if she's trying to sell an idea she can't fully believe in."

In 1987, Keaton directed and edited her first feature film, a documentary named Heaven about the possibility of an afterlife. Heaven met with mixed critical reaction, with The New York Times likening it to "a conceit imposed on its subjects." She went on to direct music videos for artists such as Belinda Carlisle, two television films starring Patricia Arquette, and episodes of China Beach and Twin Peaks. Outside of film and television, Keaton is also a published photographer. One of Keaton's earliest ambitions is photography, she told Vanity Fair in 1987: "I have amassed a huge library of images - kissing scenes from movies, pictures I like. Visual things are really key for me." She began her career as a photographer when Rolling Stone magazine requested a spread from Keaton. Reservations, her first photography book, was published in 1980. Reservations consisted of images of hotel lobbies. She has published several more collections of her own photographs, and has also served as an editor for collections of vintage photographs. Among the works she has edited include a collections of photographs by paparazzi Ron Galella and a collection of clown artwork.


By the 1990s, Keaton had established herself as one of the most popular and versatile actresses in Hollywood. Now middle-aged, she shifted to more mature roles, frequently playing matriarchs of middle-class families. Of her role choices and avoidance of becoming typecast, she said: "Most often a particular role does you some good and Bang! You have loads of offers, all of them for similar roles ... I have tried to break away from the usual roles and have tried my hand at several things."

She began the decade with "The Lemon Sisters," a poorly received comedy/drama that she starred in and produced, which was shelved for a year after its completion. In 1991, Keaton starred with Steve Martin in the 1991 family comedy Father of the Bride. She was almost not cast in the film, as the commercial failure of The Good Mother had strained her relationship with Walt Disney Pictures, the studio of both films. Father of the Bride was Keaton's first major hit after four years of commercial disappointments.

Keaton reprised her role four years later in the sequel, as a woman who becomes pregnant in middle age at the same time as her daughter. A review of the film for the San Francisco Examiner was one of many in which Keaton once again received comparison to Katharine Hepburn: "No longer relying on that stuttering uncertainty that seeped into all her characterizations of the 1970s, she has somehow become Katharine Hepburn with a deep maternal instinct, that is, she is a fine and intelligent actress who doesn't need to be tough and edgy in order to prove her feminism."

Keaton reprised her role of Kay Adams in 1990's The Godfather, Part III. Set 21 years after the events of The Godfather, Part II, Keaton's part had evolved into the estranged ex-wife of Michael Corleone. Criticism of the film and Keaton again centered on her character's unimportance in the film. The Washington Post wrote: "Even though she is authoritative in the role, Keaton suffers tremendously from having no real function except to nag Michael for his past sins." In 1993 Keaton starred in Manhattan Murder Mystery, her first film with Woody Allen since 1987. Her part was intended for Mia Farrow, but Farrow dropped out of the project after her notorious separation from Allen.

Keaton's most successful film of the decade was the 1996 comedy The First Wives Club. She starred with Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler as a trio of "first wives": middle-aged women who had been divorced by their husbands in favour of younger women. Keaton claimed that making the film "saved [her] life." The film was a major success grossing US$105 million at the North American box office, and even developed a cult following among middle-aged women. Reviews of the film were generally positive for Keaton and her co-stars, and she was even referred to by The San Francisco Chronicle as "probably [one of the] the best comic film actresses alive." She also directed Unstrung Heroes that year, her first theatrically released narrative film.

Also in 1996, Keaton starred with Meryl Streep in Marvin's Room, as a woman with leukemia. Roger Ebert stated that "Streep and Keaton, in their different styles, find ways to make Lee and Bessie into much more than the expression of their problems." Keaton earned her third Academy Award nomination for the film. Although critically acclaimed, Keaton said that the biggest challenge of the role was understanding the mentality of a person with terminal illness.


Keaton's first film of 2000 was Hanging Up with Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow. Keaton also directed the film, despite claiming in a 1996 interview that she would never direct herself in a film, saying "[as a director] you automatically have different goals. I can't think about directing when I'm acting." The film was a drama about three sisters coping with the senility and eventual death of their elderly father. Hanging Up rated poorly with critics, and grossed a modest US$36 million at the North American box office.

In 2001 Keaton co-starred with Warren Beatty once again in Town & Country, a critical and financial fiasco. Budgeted at an estimated US$90 million, the film opened to little notice and grossed only $7 million in its North American theatrical run. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone claimed that Town & Country was, "less deserving of a review than it is an obituary ... The corpse took with it the reputations of its starry cast, including Warren Beatty [and] Diane Keaton".

In 2001 and 2002 Keaton starred in four low-budget television films. She played a fanatical nun in the religious drama Sister Mary Explains It All, an impoverished mother in the drama On Thin Ice, and a bookkeeper in the mob comedy Plan B. In Crossed Over she played Beverly Lowry, a woman who forms an unusual friendship with the first and only woman executed while on death row in Texas, Karla Faye Tucker.

Keaton's first major hit since 1996 came in 2003's Something's Gotta Give, directed by Nancy Meyers and co-starring Jack Nicholson. Nicholson and Keaton, aged 66 and 57 respectively, were seen as bold casting choices for leads in a romantic comedy. Twentieth Century Fox, the film's original studio, reportedly declined to produce the film, fearing that the lead characters were too old to be bankable. Keaton commented about the situation in Ladies' Home Journal: "Let's face it, people my age and Jack's age are much deeper, much more soulful, because they've seen a lot of life. They have a great deal of passion and hope- why shouldn't they fall in love? Why shouldn't movies show that?" Keaton played a middle-aged playwright who falls in love with her daughter's much-older boyfriend. The film was a major success at the box office, grossing US$125 million in North America. Roger Ebert wrote that "[Nicholson and Keaton] bring so much experience, knowledge and humor to their characters that the film works in ways the screenplay might not have even hoped for." The following year, Keaton received her fourth Academy Award nomination for her role in the film.

Most recently, Keaton starred in the moderately successful 2005 comedy The Family Stone with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Keaton has also served as a producer on films and television series. She produced the FOX series Pasadena, which was cancelled after airing only four episodes in 2001 but later completed its run on cable in 2005. In 2003 she produced the Gus Van Sant drama Elephant, about a school shooting. On why she produced the film, she said: "It really makes me think about my responsibilities as an adult to try and understand what's going on with young people."

Keaton has also established herself as a real estate developer. She has resold several mansions in Southern California after renovating and redesigning them. One of her clients is Madonna, who purchased a US$6.5 million Beverly Hills mansion from Keaton in 2003.

She will receive the Film Society of Lincoln Centre's Gala Tribute in 2007.

Personal life

Relationships and family

While Keaton has never been married, she has had some high-profile relationships nonetheless. Keaton's most famous romance was with director Woody Allen for most of the 1970s. Keaton and Allen first met during Keaton's audition for the Broadway production of Play It Again, Sam, but they did not know each other personally until having dinner after a late night rehearsal. Allen claims that Keaton's sense of humor attracted him to her. They briefly lived together during the Broadway run of Play It Again, Sam, but their relationship became less formal by the time the film version was produced in 1972. They went on to produce eight films together between 1971 to 1993. After Keaton's working relationship with Woody Allen diminished in 1979, she began dating her Reds co-star Warren Beatty. Keaton's involvement with Beatty also made her a regular subject of tabloid magazines and media at the time, a role to which she was unaccustomed. (Vanity Fair described her in 1985 as "the most reclusive star since Garbo".) Beatty and Keaton separated shortly after completing Reds. Their separation was believed to have been caused by the strain of making the film, a troubled production with numerous financial and scheduling problems. Keaton still maintains contact with both Allen and Beatty, but describes Allen as one of her closest friends.

In July 2001, Keaton publicly announced that she had given up pursuing romance, and stated, "I don't think that because I'm not married it's made my life any less. That old maid myth is garbage." Keaton has two adopted children, a daughter, Dexter (adopted 1996), and a son, Duke (adopted 2001). Keaton decided to become a mother at the age of 50 after the death of her father, when she began to realize her own mortality. She later said of having children, "Motherhood has completely changed me. It's just about like the most completely humbling experience that I've ever had."

Religious Affiliation

Keaton stated that she produced her 1987 documentary Heaven because, "I was always pretty religious as a kid ... I was primarily interested in religion because I wanted to go to heaven" but also stated she considered herself an agnostic.

Although raised a Methodist, in an October 2002 television interview with Oxygen Keaton stated that she currently considers herself an atheist.

Woody Allen once said of her, "She believes in God, but she also believes that the radio works because there are tiny people inside it."

Other activities

Keaton is an advocate against plastic surgery. She told More magazine in 2004, "I'm stuck in this idea that I need to be authentic ... My face needs to look the way I feel." Keaton is also active in campaigns with the Los Angeles Conservancy to save and restore historic buildings, particularly in the Los Angeles area. Among the buildings she has been active in restoring include a former home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Keaton had also been active in the failed campaign to save the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles (a hotel featured in Reservations), the location of Robert Kennedy's assassination in 1968.

Since May 2005 she has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.

Starting in the summer of 2006, Keaton will be the new face of L'Oreal.

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Other notes
1970 Lovers and Other Strangers Joan Vecchio Bit part
1972 The Godfather Kay Adams  
Play It Again, Sam Linda Christie  
1973 Sleeper Luna Schlosser  
1974 The Godfather, Part II Kay Adams  
1975 Love and Death Sonja  
1977 Annie Hall Annie Hall Academy Award - Best Actress
Looking for Mr. Goodbar Theresa Dunn  
1978 Interiors Renata  
1979 Manhattan Mary Wilkie  
1981 Reds Louise Bryant Academy Award nomination - Best Actress
1984 The Little Drummer Girl Charlie  
1986 Crimes of the Heart Lenny Magrath  
1987 Radio Days New Year's Singer Cameo
Baby Boom J.C. Wiatt  
Heaven   Documentary film, also writer/director
1988 The Good Mother Anna Dunlap  
1990 The Godfather, Part III Kay Adams  
The Lemon Sisters Eloise Hamer  
1991 Father of the Bride Nina Banks  
1993 Manhattan Murder Mystery Carol Lipton  
1995 Father of the Bride Part II Nina Banks  
1996 The First Wives Club Annie Paradis  
Marvin's Room Bessie Greenfield Academy Award nomination - Best Actress
1999 The Other Sister Elizabeth Tate  
2000 Hanging Up Georgia Mozell Also director
2001 Town & Country Ellie Stoddard  
2003 Something's Gotta Give Erica Jane Barry Academy Award nomination - Best Actress
Elephant   Executive producer
2005 The Family Stone Sybil Stone  
2007 Because I Said So Daphne Wilder
2007 Mama's Boy Jan Mannus  
Preceded by:
Faye Dunaway
for Network
Academy Award for Best Actress
for Annie Hall
Succeeded by:
Jane Fonda
for Coming Home
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