Piper Laurie passed away early on Saturday at her Los Angeles home. She was a strong-willed, Oscar-nominated performer who played in acclaimed parts despite briefly quitting acting in favor of a “more meaningful” life. She was 91 years old.
According to Marion Rosenberg, Laurie’s manager, she passed away from old age and said that she had “a superb talent and a wonderful human being.”
When Laurie first came in Hollywood in 1949 under the name Rosetta Jacobs, Universal-International swiftly offered her a contract, a new name she detested, and a run of leading roles alongside actors like Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson, and Tony Curtis, among others.
She later received nods for three other movies: the romantic drama Children of a Lesser God (1986), the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s terrifying novel Carrie, and the 1961 poolroom drama The Hustler. She also had a number of well-regarded parts on television and the stage, notably the evil Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks in the 1990s.
At the age of 17, Laurie made her acting debut as Reagan’s daughter in Louisa. Later, she starred opposite Francis the talking mule in Francis Goes to the Races. She and Curtis worked together on a number of movies, including Johnny Dark, No Room for the Bride, Son of Ali Baba, and The Prince Who Was a Thief.
In 1955, she quit her $2,000-per-week job out of frustration and vowed never to work again until she was given a respectable job.
She relocated to New York, where she was able to land the roles she was looking for in live television drama and theater.
She received Emmy nods for her roles in Days of Wine and Roses, The Deaf Heart, and The Road That Led After, which opened the door for her comeback to the big screen in The Hustler, where she played the disturbed lover of Paul Newman.
Laurie then abandoned acting for a considerable period of time. She moved to a farmhouse in Woodstock, New York, after being married to film critic Joseph Morgenstern and having a daughter named Ann Grace.
Later, she acknowledged that the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement had affected her choice.
With the publication of her recipes in The New York Times, Laurie also gained notoriety as a baker.
She only performed once during that time, touring college campuses with a group of musicians and performers to support Sen. George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign.
When filmmaker Brian De Palma contacted Laurie about playing Sissy Spacek’s insane mother in Carrie, Laurie was finally prepared to resume her acting career.