Shelley Duvall Dies: ‘The Shining’, ‘Nashville’ Actor Was 75

Shelley Duvall Dies: ‘The Shining’, ‘Nashville’ Actor Was 75

Shelley Duvall, the doe-eyed actor who was both muse and protégé of director Robert Altman but might best be remembered for her co-starring role opposite Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, died today, July 11, of complications from diabetes at her home in Blanco, Texas. She was 75.

Her death was announced by her longtime partner Dan Gilroy.

More from Deadline

“My dear, sweet, wonderful life partner and friend left us,” Gilroy said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away, beautiful Shelley.”

Duvall rose to fame in the 1970s in a series of Altman’s films, starting with Brewster McCloud and followed by McCabe & Mrs. Miller (in which she made an indelible impression as a sweet-natured young widow who turns to prostitution in an Old West bordello operated by the title characters, played by Warren Beatty and Julie Christie), Thieves Like Us, 3 WomenNashville and Buffalo Bill and the Indians.

She would go on to appear briefly but memorably in Woody Allen’s 1977 Best Picture Oscar winner Annie Hall as a flighty Rolling Stone reporter who beds Allen’s Alvy Singer during a break in the latter’s relationship with Diane Keaton’s title character). “Sex with you is really a Kafka-esque experience,” Duvall’s Pam tells a taken-aback Alvy, apparently as a compliment.

A native of Texas, Duvall was discovered by Altman when the director was in Houston filming Brewster McCloud. After he cast Duvall to play the love interest of Bud Cort’s title character, she would win the 1977 Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actress Award for her appearance in Altman’s 3 Women. She also earned a Best Actress BAFTA Awards nom for the film.

In addition to her film career, Duvall became a writer, producer and director in her own right with multiple children’s entertainment series, including Faerie Tale Theatre, Disney Channel’s Mother Goose Rock’N’RhymeTall Tales & Legends and Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories — scoring Emmy nominations for the latter two in 1988 and 1992, respectively.

Fairie Tale Theater earned a Peabody Award in 1984, and she also won eight CableACE Awards on 15 nominations for her kids programs.


Born July 7, 1949, in Fort Worth, Texas, Duvall guested on the popular TV series Cannon and Love, American Style before fin\ding her earliest mainstream success in Altman’s 1975 classic Nashville. Two years later came 3 Women, Annie Hall and a hosting gig Saturday Night Live.

Her profile continued to rise the following decade, when she starred in a role that seemed tailor-made for her gawky, saucer-eyed appearance: She played Olive Oyl opposite Robin Williams in Altman’s 1980 live-action feature version of Popeye.

But her signature role came that same year as The Shining‘s terrorized Wendy Torrance. A scene in which she locks herself in a bathroom only to have Nicholson’s maniacal ax-wielding Jack Torrance chop through the door shouting “Heeeere’s Johnny!” has become one of Hollywood’s most iconic horror images.

Hollywood legend has it that she was nearly as terrorized by Kubrick himself, who required take after take. Today the late director’s official X page posted a tribute to Duvall, stating: “Despite being dogged with exaggerations of her treatment on set, Shelley was always vocal about her experience filming The Shining saying she ‘wouldn’t trade it for anything’ because ‘working with lovable Stanley was a fascinating learning experience.’ Our thoughts are with Shelley’s friends and family.”

She also appeared in Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film Time Bandits, and opposite Steve Martin in Roxanne (1987).

Duvall pivoted to television later in the ’80s, producing and starring in children’s fare include Showtime’s Faerie Tale Theatre (1982-87), Tall Tales & Legends (1985-87), Nightmare Classics (1989) and Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories (1992-93) and Disney Channel’s Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990).

Although she worked occasionally throughout the ’90s — including guest roles on Emmy-winning hits L.A. Law and Frasier — she retired in 2002 due to health issues that included both physical and mental struggles. In a 2016 interview on Dr. Phil, she appeared confused, rambling, agitated and disoriented. Promos for the controversial and widely condemned interview showed Duvall saying to the camera: “I am very sick. I need help.”

The interview was held for that year’s November sweeps, and many in Hollywood were outraged and accused host Phil McGraw of exploiting the troubled star. Days later, the Actors Fund reached out to try and help any assistance she might have needed — from social services to direct financial aid. According to McGraw, Duvall declined his show’s offer of follow-up assistance.

But she returned after two decades with last year’s indie horror film The Forest Hills. It starred Chiko Mendez as Rico, a disturbed man who is tormented by nightmarish visions after suffering head trauma while camping in the Catskill Mountains. Duvall played Rico’s mother, who serves as his inner voice.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.