Piper Laurie, Known for ‘Carrie’ and ‘The Hustler,’ Passes Away at 91

Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie (Credits: The New York Times)

At the age of 91, Piper Laurie, a well-known actress who defied the studio system and received three Oscar nominations, has died. The terrible news was confirmed by Marion Rosenberg, her manager, who called her “a beautiful human being and one of the great talents of our time.”

For her part opposite Paul Newman in the 1961 classic “The Hustler,” Laurie received her first Oscar nomination, which marked the beginning of her rise to fame. In this role, Laurie played a remarkable alcoholic character. After taking a sabbatical to raise her family, she returned to the film and television industry in the 1970s. She garnered Oscar nods for her outstanding performances in “Carrie” and “Children of a Lesser God,” the latter of which saw her portraying Marlee Matlin’s cold mother. Her career took off.

In her iconic role as Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s groundbreaking TV series “Twin Peaks,” Laurie garnered two of her nine Emmy nominations. Her Emmy win came for her role in the powerful 1986 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” production “Promises,” a performance that offered support to James Wood’s schizophrenic character and James Garner’s brother.

Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie (Credits: CNN)

Her 1999 guest role on the sitcom “Frasier,” in which she played the mother of a radio psychologist who was obviously modeled after Dr. Laura Schlessinger, earned Laurie her final Emmy nomination.

Laurie’s career took off after she left Universal Studios in the middle of the 1950s and switched to more significant parts. In the early 1970s, she married writer Joseph Morgenstern and moved to Woodstock, New York, to have a family. Notably, she received an Oscar nomination for her performance in “The Hustler.”

She had performances in a Broadway version of “The Glass Menagerie” and on the PBS science program “Nova” in the middle of the 1970s as Margaret Sanger, an advocate for family planning. Laurie received a second Oscar nomination, this time for supporting her humorous yet spooky performance in Brian De Palma’s “Carrie.”

She continued to make contributions to both film and television over the years, leaving her mark in a number of TV movies and series. Some of her well-known roles on the big screen were in “Appointment With Death,” “Other People’s Money,” “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway,” and “The Crossing Guard.”

Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie (Credits: The Wrap)

Her career remained active, with performances in a number of Telepics during the 1990s and 2000s. She made guest roles on well-known television shows like “ER,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Will and Grace,” and “Law and Order: SVU.”

Laurie’s final four acting performances were in “Eulogy,” “The Dead Girl,” “Hounddog,” and “Hesher,” all of which gave her the opportunity to engage with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in unique ways.

When Laurie was plucked out of Los Angeles High School at the age of 17 and signed to a Universal contract, her Hollywood career officially got underway. On January 22, 1932, in Detroit, Rosetta Jacobs gave birth to Laurie. She appeared in several comedies and musicals after making her acting debut in the 1950 film “Louisa,” in which she played Ronald Reagan’s daughter. Over the years, she spent screen time with both seasoned performers and rising stars, which benefited her growth as an actress.

While she admitted to disliking her early roles, Laurie recognized that they were instrumental in her development and her path to more fulfilling projects. Laurie and Morgenstern divorced in 1981, and she is survived by her daughter, Anne Grace.