Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan,
the daughter of Jewish parents Charlotte Sadie (née Alperin)
and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. She moved to Los Angeles
when she was young. She signed a contract with Universal Studios
when she was 17, co-starring with Ronald Reagan (whom she dated
a couple of times before his marriage to Nancy Davis) in Louisa.
Dissatisfied with the work she was being offered
in Hollywood, Laurie went to New York City in 1955 to work on the
live television programs of the 1950s. She starred in such productions
as Twelfth Night and Days of Wine and Roses. In 1961 she returned
to Hollywood to star opposite Paul Newman in The Hustler, for which
she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her
role as Sarah Packard, the crippled love interest for Newman's "Fast
In 1965, she starred in a Broadway revival of Tennessee
Williams' The Glass Menagerie opposite Maureen Stapleton, Pat Hingle
and George Grizzard. She wouldn't star in another Broadway production
for 37 years, when she appeared in Lincoln Center's acclaimed revival
of Paul Osborn's Morning's at Seven with Julie Hagerty, Buck Henry,
Frances Sternhagen and Estelle Parsons.
In the 1960s, once again disenchanted with the work
available, Laurie returned to semi-retirement to raise a family.
She appeared in the Australian film Tim (1979) opposite a very young
Mel Gibson (in which she can be credited in doing the first sex
scene on screen in which Gibson appeared). But perhaps her most
famous role in her later career was in Brian De Palma's Carrie,
as the title character's fanatically religious mother Margaret White,
for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting
Actress. She first turned down the role because she didn't know
how to play it, but later realized that it was a dark comedy; she
ruined several shots because she couldn't stop laughing. Twenty
years later, she reunited with co-star Sissy Spacek when they played
sisters in a screen adaptation of Truman Capote's The Grass Harp.
She received another Academy Award Supporting Actress
nomination, in 1987, for Children of a Lesser God, in which she
played Marlee Matlin's mother. Laurie also starred as the devious
Catherine Martell in David Lynch's television series Twin Peaks.
Following the character's supposed death in a mill fire at the end
of the first season, the actress (under heavy makeup) returned as
"Fumio Yamaguchi," playing the mysterious Mr. Tojamura,
who would eventually be revealed to be Catherine Martell in disguise.
She also appeared in 1991's Other People's Money with Gregory Peck
and in horror maestro Dario Argento's first American film Trauma,
along with the director's daughter Asia Argento.
Laurie played George Clooney's character's mother
on ER. In 1998, she starred in the sci-fi thriller The Faculty.
Laurie then made a series of guest appearances on television shows
including Matlock, Frasier, State of Grace, Will & Grace, and
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She returned to the big screen
for independent films such as Eulogy and The Dead Girl.
Laurie won an Emmy Award, for Outstanding Supporting
Actress in a Miniseries or Special, for her role in the 1986 TV
movie Promise opposite James Garner and James Woods. In addition,
she received several Emmy nominations, including one for playing
Magda Goebbels, wife of Joseph Goebbels, in The Bunker, opposite
Anthony Hopkins as Hitler, for her role in the miniseries The Thorn
Birds, and two for her work in Twin Peaks.
The Milkman (1950)
Francis Goes to the Races (1951)
The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951)
Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952)
The Golden Blade (1953)
The Mississippi Gambler (1953)
Until They Sail (1957)
The Hustler (1961)
The Thorn Birds (1983)
Return to Oz (1985)
The Twilight Zone (1985)
Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Appointment with Death (1988)
Dream a Little Dream (1989)
Twin Peaks (1990)
Other People's Money (1991)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) — her scenes were deleted from
the final cut
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993)
The Grass Harp (1995)
Fighting For My Daughter (1995)
The Faculty (1998)
The Dead Girl (2006)
Saving Grace (2008)