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Gena Rowlands
| Saturday, 08.05.2017, 01:57 AM |   (30337 views)

Gena Rowlands

By Ed Donovan

Gena Rowlands was born Virginia Cathryn Rowlands on June 19, 1930 in Madison, Wisconsin.. Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a state legislator and later the senate. Her mother, Mary Allen Neal, was a housewife. At the age of nine the family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1939.  

Rowlands graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia where she won a scholarship to the Jarvis Repertory Theatre in Washington, D. C. While still in her teens, she enrolled in New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Gena later attended the University of Wisconsin where she was a popular student already renowned for her beauty.

Rowlands went from understudy to lead role in the original Broadway production of The Seven Year Itch.  Discovered by Joshua Logan, she was cast as the female lead opposite Edward G. Robinson in a Broadway production of The Middle of the Night. Eighteen months later, she was in Hollywood where she made her feature film debut opposite Jose Ferrer in The High Cost of Loving. She guest starred in several anthology television series, including Robert Montgomery Presents, Kraft Television Theatre and Studio One, among many others. In 1961 she starred in the well-received television series 87th Precinct, and in 1964 in Peyton Place.

Teaming with her husband, writer and director John Cassavetes, whom she married in 1954, Rowlands starred in many productions, including Staccato, A Child Is Waiting, Faces, Gloria (nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Love Streams, Minnie and Moskowitz, She's So Lovely, and A Woman Under the Influence (Academy Award nomination). She starred in The Neon Bible. In 1985, Rowlands played the mother in the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie An Early Frost. In recent years, she has appeared in Paulie and in Mira Nair's HBO movie, Hysterical Blindness for which she won her third Emmy.

Gena is one of six women who have received Best Actress nominations for performances directed by their spouses. She is the only one who has had two Best Actress nominations directed by her spouse, those two being for A Woman Under the Influence (1974) & Gloria (1980).

When she was offered a role working with Bette Davis on the TV movie Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter she says, “ I didn't want to do it. I thought, what if all my illusions were broken? But I couldn't resist the temptation. She's no pussycat -- she's just a great and independent artist and I loved every minute working with her.”

She was recently seen in The Notebook, which was directed by her son, Nick Cassavetes, and co-starred James Garner, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. In 2004 she won her first Daytime Emmy for her role as Mrs. Evelyn Ritchie in The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie. To name a few, Ms. Rowlands has been nominated for: two Academy Awards; six Emmy nominations, and one Daytime Emmy; eight Golden Globes; three Satellite Awards; and one SAG Award. Some of her notable wins include: a Silver Berlin Bear; three Emmy Awards and one Daytime Emmy; two Golden Globes; two National Board of Review Awards; two Satellite Awards.

Gena says, “One of the big dangers is that we tend to make pictures that don't encourage feeling and compassion for one another -- the technical things are so dazzling -- but film is so well suited to letting you live the life of someone else for a couple of hours and to actually feel what they feel. And the next time you see a person like that person on the street or in a restaurant, you have a softer, better feeling toward them."

Gena is the daughter of Lady Rowlands and the grandmother of Sasha Cassavetes and Virginia Cassavetes.

Ed Donovan is a retired 32 veteran Boston Police officer and a SAG-AFTRA member since 1982. He is a Writer, Biographer, Producer, Director, Screenwriter and the Editor of the Award winning online magazine, In Focus- Magazine. The magazine is linked World Wide with writers and readers throughout the World. For more on Ed Donovan go to IMDB,






Ed Donovan

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