In what seems to be a very tragic theme this week, we must report on the death of another beloved genre legend.
Piper Laurie, best known for her role in 1976’s horror tale Carrie, among others, has passed away aged 91.
Born Rosetta Jacobs on January 22nd 1932, Laurie rose from near-poverty in Detroit, Michigan. In 1949, she arrived in Hollywood and was quickly signed by Universal International, changing her name to Piper Laurie.
Beginning in 1950, Laurie was a regular fixture on the big-screen, quickly rising through the studio ranks to become one of Universal’s most bankable stars. Laurie starred opposite some of the most desirable male idols of the day, including Tony Curtis, Ronald Reagan, Van Johnson, and Rock Hudson, in her sixteen pictures for the studio.
After an extended break to focus on theatre, Laurie was selected by Paul Newman as his co-star in 1961’s The Hustler. For her performance, Laurie was nominated for her first Academy Award, but opted to walk away from her career soon after.
After 15 years of retirement, Laurie was personally selected by director Brian De Palma for the role of Margaret White in the big-screen adaption of Stephen King’s hit novel Carrie. Despite initially turning down the role, due to concerns about the horror genre, Laurie accepted after much lobbying from others. Carrie would go on to dominate the box-office, and earn Academy Awards for Laurie and star Sissy Spacek, almost unheard of for a horror film.
Following this, Laurie’s career roared back to life, seeing her become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand character actresses. In terms of genre cinema, Laurie would return to horror with 1977’s Ruby, 1993’s Trauma and 1999’s The Faculty.
Away from the genre, Laurie continued to be prolific, garnering another Academy Award nomination for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God. Her other credits included The Grass Harp, Appointment with Fear and David Lynch’s iconic series Twin Peaks, for which Laurie won a Golden Globe.
Equally busy on television, Piper Laurie would appear in The Thorn Birds, Will & Grace, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and the 2000 made-for-television horror movie Possessed, to name just a few credits.
According to her representative, Laurie had been ill for some time and died of natural causes due to her advanced age. She is survived by her daughter Anna and was 91 years old.
Rest in peace, Piper, one of the last of the Hollywood greats.