Shelley Duvall death: The Shining star dies, aged 75

Shelley Duvall, the beloved actor who played Jack Nicholson’s wife in The Shining, has died, aged 75,

Duvall played Wendy Torrance, the wife of Nicholson’s axe-wielding maniac, in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 Stephen King adaptation. The actor also starred in seven Robert Altman films throughout her career and, in 1993, appeared in Jane Campion’s 1996 film The Portrait of a Lady.

News of her death was announced by Dan Giloy, her partner since 1989. Gilroy told The Hollywood Reporter that she died in her sleep of complications from diabetes.

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

Duvall, who was born in Texas, became the protégé of director Altman in the 1970s, starring in films including McCabe & Mrs Miller (1971), Thieves Like Us (1974) and Nashville (1975), which was considered her breakthrough.

She also starred in the director’s psychological drama 3 Women (1977), winning Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival and securing a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Shelley Duvall in Robert Altman’s ‘3 Women’ (20th Century Fox)Shelley Duvall in Robert Altman’s ‘3 Women’ (20th Century Fox)

Shelley Duvall in Robert Altman’s ‘3 Women’ (20th Century Fox)

Duvall also had a supporting role in Annie Hall and, in the 1980s, had roles in Altman’s live-action Popeye, playing Olive Oyl, and Steve Martin comedy Roxanne.

Speaking about her working relationship with Altman, Duvall told The New York Times in 1977: “He offers me damn good roles. None of them have been alike. He has a great confidence in me, and a trust and respect for me, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on me or intimidate me, and I love him.”

But it was Duvall’s role in Kubrick’s The Shining that proved the star’s most enduring. Over the years, rumours have abounded about Duvall’s struggles on the set of the film, which took a year to complete due to Kubrick’s perfectionism.

To maximise the hostility between his lead actors, it’s been claimed Kubrick would antagonise and isolate both Duvall and Nicholson – and it was claimed that Kubrick made Duvall perform an infamous scene, when she hysterically retreats from her husband while wielding a baseball bat for protection, 127 times.

Duvall said “it was so difficult being hysterical for that length of time”, and described making the film as “almost unbearable”. However, she was also complimentary about the experience, adding: “But from other points of view, really very nice, I suppose.”

Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining’ (Warner Bros)Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining’ (Warner Bros)

Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining’ (Warner Bros)

Over the years, Duvall repeatedly debunked claims that she struggled after filming The Shining.

Duvall received a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress for her role in the film – something that was officially rescinded by the awards committee in 2022.

The actor also worked as a producer, and was an instrumental figure behind 1982 children’s television program Faerie Tale Theatre – both in front of and behind the camera. She also created Tall Tales & Legends in 1985 and, three years later, she founded a new production company called Think Entertainment to develop programs and television movies for cable channels.

The actor continued to make screen appearances up until retiring in 2002, but she made an unexpected return to acting 20 years later, for a role in horror-thriller The Forest Hills.

In 2016, Duvall appeared on an episode of Dr Phil, discussing her mental health struggles over the years. The interview was condemned by many for being “exploitative”.

Duvall had had been in a relationship with Gilroy since 1989, and the couple lived in Texas, where Duvall died.

She was married only once – to artist Bernard Sampson in 1970 – and the marriage ended four years later. In 1976, Duvall started a two-year relationship with musician Paul Simon after meeting on the set of Annie Hall. Their relationship is said to have ended when Duvall introduced Simon to his future wife, Carrie Fisher.

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