Kathleen Doyle Bates (born June 28, 1948)[2] is an American actress and director. She has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards.

Kathy Bates
Kathy Bates by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Bates at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Kathleen Doyle Bates

(1948-06-28) June 28, 1948 (age 73)
EducationSouthern Methodist University (BFA)
  • Actress
  • director
Years active1963–present
Full list
Tony Campisi
(m. 1991; div. 1997)
RelativesFinis L. Bates (grandfather)
AwardsFull list

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she studied theatre at the Southern Methodist University before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career. She landed minor stage roles before being cast in her first on screen role in Taking Off (1971). Her first Off-Broadway stage performance was in the 1976 production of Vanities. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, she continued to perform on screen and on stage, and garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Play in 1983 for her performance in 'night, Mother, and won an Obie Award in 1988 for her performance in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.

Bates' performance as Annie Wilkes in the tense psychological thriller Misery (1990) marked her Hollywood breakthrough, winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Further acclaim came for her starring role in Dolores Claiborne (1995), The Waterboy (1998), and supporting roles in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and Titanic (1997). Bates received subsequent Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Primary Colors (1998), About Schmidt (2002), and Richard Jewell (2019).

Bates' television work has resulted in 14 Emmy Award nominations, including two for her leading role on the NBC series Harry's Law (2011–12). She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance on the ninth season of Two and a Half Men (2012) and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her portrayal of Delphine LaLaurie on the third season of American Horror Story (2013). She also received accolades for her portrayal of Miss Hannigan in the 1999 television adaptation of Annie. Her directing credits include several episodes of the HBO television series Six Feet Under (2001–03) and the television film Ambulance Girl (2005).

Early lifeEdit

Bates was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest of three daughters of mechanical engineer Langdon Doyle Bates and homemaker Bertye Kathleen (née Talbert).[citation needed] Her paternal grandfather was lawyer and author Finis L. Bates. Her great-great-grandfather, an Irish emigrant to New Orleans, Louisiana, served as President Andrew Jackson's doctor.[3] She graduated early from White Station High School (1965) and from Southern Methodist University (1969), where she studied theatre and became a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.[4] She moved to New York City in 1970 to pursue an acting career.[5] Bates is an alumna of the William Esper Studio for the performing arts in Manhattan, New York City.[6]


1970–1989: Early roles and stage successEdit

After moving to New York City, Bates worked several odd jobs as well as minor stage roles while struggling to find work as an actress. At one point, she worked as a cashier at the Museum of Modern Art.[7]

In 1971, Bates was cast in a minor role in the Miloš Forman comedy Taking Off (credited as "Bobo Bates"), her first on screen role in a feature film.[8] Following this, she continued to struggle to find acting roles, later claiming in an interview with The New York Times that more than one casting agent told her that she wasn't sufficiently attractive to be a successful actress:

"I'm not a stunning woman. I never was an ingenue; I've always just been a character actor. When I was younger it was a real problem, because I was never pretty enough for the roles that other young women were being cast in. The roles I was lucky enough to get were real stretches for me: usually a character who was older, or a little weird, or whatever. And it was hard, not just for the lack of work but because you have to face up to how people are looking at you. And you think, 'Well, y'know, I'm a real person.'"[9]

After Taking Off was released, Bates didn't work on another feature film until she appeared opposite Dustin Hoffman in Straight Time (1978).[8] Throughout the 1970s, she continued to perform on stage. Her first Off-Broadway performance was in the 1976 production of Vanities. Bates subsequently originated the role of Lenny in the first production of Crimes of the Heart at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1979.[10] Beginning in 1980, she appeared in Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July. In 1982, she starred in the Robert Altman-directed Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean with Karen Black and Cher. During this time, she also began working in television, starring in a variety of soap operas such as The Doctors, All My Children, and One Life to Live.

The New York Times wrote that, in the early 1980s, Bates "established herself as one of America's finest stage actresses".[9] In 1983, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play 'night, Mother.[11] The stage production ran for more than a year. She found further success on Off Broadway, in Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, for which she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1988. McNally specifically wrote the play for Bates.[9] She later succeeded Amy Irving in the Off-Broadway production of The Road to Mecca in 1988. Around this time, she shifted her focus to screen acting, with roles in The Morning After (1986), and Summer Heat (1987).

1990–2009: Film breakthrough and acclaimEdit

Bates at the 1999 Emmy Awards

Bates' performance in the 1990 horror film Misery, based on the book of the same name by Stephen King, marked her Hollywood breakthrough.[12] The film was a commercial and critical success and her performance as Annie Wilkes was met with widespread critical adulation. Also that year, she had a role in Warren Beatty's crime film Dick Tracy (1990). The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama. The American Film Institute included Annie Wilkes (as played by Bates) in their "100 Heroes and Villains" list, ranking her as the 17th most iconic villain (and sixth most iconic villainess) in film history.[13]

Soon after, she starred in the acclaimed 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, based on the novel by comedic actress Fannie Flagg. For her performance in this film, she received a BAFTA Award nomination.[14] In 1995, Bates played the title character in Dolores Claiborne, another well-received Stephen King adaptation, for which she was nominated for Best Actress at the 22nd Saturn Awards.[15]

In 1995, Bates began working behind the screen as well, as a director, on several television series; her early directing jobs include episodes of Great Performances, Homicide: Life on the Street, and NYPD Blue.

In 1996, Bates received her first Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, for her performance as Jay Leno's manager Helen Kushnick in HBO's The Late Shift (1996).[16] That role also earned Bates her second Golden Globe Award win in the category of Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and her first Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.[17][18]

Bates gained wider recognition in 1997 when she portrayed Molly Brown in James Cameron's epic romance and disaster film Titanic, based on the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.[19] The film became the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide in 1998, and remained so for twelve years, until Avatar (2009), also written and directed by Cameron, surpassed it in 2010.[20]

She received her second Academy Award nomination (and first in the Best Supporting Actress category) for her work as the acid-tongued political advisor Libby Holden in Primary Colors (1998), which was adapted from the book by political journalist Joe Klein. The following year, she was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun as well as for Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or Movie for her work on the Dashiell Hammett-Lillian Hellman biopic Dash & Lilly. In 2000, Bates received another Emmy Award nomination for her turn as Miss Hannigan in Disney's remake of Annie (1999).[16]

Bates in July 2006

In 2002, she received her third Academy Award nomination, again in the Best Supporting Actress category, for performance as an aging free-spirited woman in About Schmidt, opposite Jack Nicholson. A scene in the film, which features Bates completely nude entering a hot tub, was noted by critics and received significant public attention.[21][22][23][24] NPR called it "the scene everyone is talking about".[22] Bates spoke about the scene in several interviews; speaking to Hello!, she said:

"People either laugh or cheer ... I was at the premiere and there are a lot of women who are shouting, 'You go, girl!' ... I think there are a lot of women in the audience who are thrilled to see a real woman up on the screen in all her glory."[8]

Throughout the 2000s, Bates worked consistently in Hollywood cinema, often playing supporting roles in number of films, such as Rumor Has It... (2005), Failure to Launch (2006), P.S. I Love You (2007), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), and The Blind Side (2009). In 2006, she directed and co-starred in her feature film directorial debut Have Mercy (2006) with Melanie Griffith.[25] In 2008, Bates re-teamed with her Titanic co-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, in the romantic drama film Revolutionary Road.[26]

During this time, she also appeared frequently on television. She starred in ten episodes of the HBO television drama series Six Feet Under, for which she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2003. She also directed several episodes of the series. Bates received another Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, for Lifetime Television's film Ambulance Girl (2006), which she also directed.[16]

2010–present: Continued successEdit

In 2010, Bates appeared in the romantic comedy film Valentine's Day, directed by Garry Marshall. From 2010 to 2011, she had a recurring guest role on the NBC sitcom The Office as Jo Bennett.[27] Her first lead role on a television series was in David E. Kelley's legal drama Harry's Law,[28] which began airing on NBC on January 17, 2011, but was later cancelled on May 14, 2012.[29] In 2011, she portrayed famed art collector Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.[30] In 2012, Bates made a guest appearance on Two and a Half Men as the ghost of Charlie Harper on the episode "Why We Gave Up Women", which aired on April 30, 2012. This guest appearance resulted in Bates winning her first Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, following nine nominations.[31]

In 2013, she began starring in the American Horror Story series' third season, Coven, as Delphine LaLaurie, an immortal racist who is brought back into the modern world after spending years buried alive.[32] For that role, she won her second Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Bates claimed that Ryan Murphy, the creator of the series, "resurrected [her] career".[33]

Bates at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con promoting American Horror Story

Bates returned for the fourth season of American Horror Story, Freak Show, this time as Ethel Darling, a bearded lady who performs in a freak show.[34] She subsequently returned again for the fifth season, Hotel, where she played Iris, the hotel's hateful manager.[35] Bates returned for her fourth, and the show's sixth season, Roanoke, playing two characters—Thomasin "The Butcher" White and Agnes Mary Winstead.[36] She received further Emmy Award nominations for each season.[16]

On September 20, 2016, Bates received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her work in the film industry. Her star is located at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard.[37][38] In 2017, Bates starred in the Netflix television series Disjointed, in which she played the character of Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, an owner of a California medical marijuana dispensary.[39] The show aired for two seasons.

In 2018, she appeared in two films: in Xavier Dolan's critically panned arthouse film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan[40] and as political activist Dorothy Kenyon in the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex.[41] That year, she also guest-starred in the finale of the 11th season of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.[42]

In 2019, Bates portrayed American politician Miriam A. Ferguson in the Netflix crime film The Highwaymen.[43] She also starred in the Clint Eastwood biographical drama film Richard Jewell, playing the mother of the title individual. For her performance, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, as well as her fourth Academy Award nomination (also in the Best Supporting Actress category).

In 2020, it was reported that Bates would be starring in an Irish drama film, The Miracle Club, with Maggie Smith and Laura Linney. The film's plot is being described as a "joyful and hilarious" journey of a group of riotous working-class women from Dublin, whose pilgrimage to Lourdes in France leads them to discover each other's friendship and their own personal miracles."[44]

Personal lifeEdit

As a teenager, Bates wrote self-described "sad songs" and struggled with bouts of depression.[45]

Bates was married to Tony Campisi for six years, from 1991 until their divorce in 1997.[46]

Bates is a member of the United Methodist Church and a registered Democrat.[47]


In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting; in the video, Bates and others told the stories of the people murdered there.[48][49]

Health issuesEdit

Bates has battled ovarian cancer since her diagnosis in 2003.[50] In September 2012, she revealed via Twitter that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier and had undergone a double mastectomy.[51][52] In 2014, at the New York Walk for Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases, Bates announced via pre-recorded audio that, due to the double mastectomy, she has lymphedema in both arms. That year, Bates became a national spokesperson for lymphedema and chairperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network's (LE&RN) honorary board.[53][54]

On May 11, 2018, Bates led advocates in a Capitol Hill Lobby Day to garner congressional support for further research funding. The next day, May 12, Bates addressed supporters at the first-ever DC/VA Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases at the Lincoln Memorial. She was awarded the 2018 WebMD Health Heroes "Game Changer" Award for her role in raising awareness of this chronic lymphatic disease.[55]

Filmography and awardsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Virtual Globetrotting. "Kathy Bates' House in Los Angeles, CA (Google Maps)". Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "Kathy Bates - Biography".
  3. ^ "Public Interview with Kathy Bates". ScottsMovies.com. Scott's Movie Comments. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  4. ^ "University of Washington Panhellenic Association – Alpha Delta Pi". Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "Kathy Bates Biography". Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  6. ^ "William Esper : Notable Alumni". esperstudio.com. 2020.
  7. ^ "MoMA | "ART WORK": Famous Former Staff". www.moma.org. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Hellomagazine.com. "Kathy Bates. Biography, news, photos and videos". ca.hellomagazine.com. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Sacks, David (January 27, 1991). "I Never Was an Ingenue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  10. ^ Publishers, David Sacks; David Sacks Is Writing An Encyclopedia Of The Ancient Greek World For Facts On File (January 27, 1991). "I Never Was an Ingenue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "Kathy Bates". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  12. ^ Beachum, Robert Pius, Chris; Pius, Robert; Beachum, Chris (September 12, 2018). "Kathy Bates movies: 15 greatest films, ranked worst to best, include 'Misery,' 'Dolores Claiborne,' 'Primary Colors'". GoldDerby. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  13. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains". www.afi.com. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "1993 Film Actress in a Supporting Role | BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  15. ^ Beahm 2001, p. 484.[verification needed]
  16. ^ a b c d "Kathy Bates". Television Academy. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  17. ^ "SAG Award Nominations Include Surprises". Los Angeles Times. January 24, 1997. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  18. ^ "And the Winner Is . . ". The New York Times. January 20, 1997. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  19. ^ Realf, Maria. "An audience with James Cameron. The filmmaker discusses his movies to date and reveals the motivations". Eyeforfilm.co.uk. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  20. ^ "Cameron does it again as 'Avatar' surpasses 'Titanic'". Newsday. February 3, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  21. ^ "HIGHLIGHT: ABOUT SCHMIDT". Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Kathy Bates and 'About Schmidt'". NPR.org. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  23. ^ Staff, Hollywood com (December 13, 2012). "Kathy Bates". Hollywood.com. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  24. ^ Stein, Ruthe (November 29, 2002). "Nudity's a big deal for Kathy Bates / But actress strips for appealing role in 'About Schmidt'". SFGate. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  25. ^ "Kathy Bates talks to Tim Nasson". Wild About Movies. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  26. ^ Levine, Stuart (December 9, 2008). "Kathy Bates, 'Revolutionary Road'". Variety. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  27. ^ "Kathy Bates to return to "The Office"". Reuters. January 14, 2011. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  28. ^ "Kathy Bates: Storefront Lawyer On 'Harry's Law'". NPR.org. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  29. ^ "'Harry's Law' canceled by NBC". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  30. ^ "Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein – An American in London". Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  31. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (August 20, 2015). "Kathy Bates Remembers Winning Her First Emmy". Variety. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  32. ^ Radish, Christina (January 4, 2014). "Kathy Bates Talks AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN, Working with other Talented Women, Her Cruel Character, and More". Collider. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  33. ^ Chi, Paul. "How American Horror Story Got Kathy Bates Her Groove Back". HWD. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  34. ^ "'American Horror Story': First Look at Freak Show Cast Art (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. August 27, 2014.
  35. ^ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/ahs-hotel-star-kathy-bates-830028
  36. ^ Moylan, Brian. "Every American Horror Cast Member Ranked". Vulture. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  37. ^ "Kathy Bates | Hollywood Walk of Fame". walkoffame.com. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  38. ^ Agency, Reuters News (September 21, 2016). "Kathy Bates gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". The Telegraph. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  39. ^ Holloway, Daniel (July 13, 2016). "Chuck Lorre-Kathy Bates Marijuana Comedy 'Disjointed' Ordered to Series by Netflix". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  40. ^ Ritchie, Kevin (September 11, 2018). "TIFF 2018: Five things you missed at The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan premiere". NOW Magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  41. ^ "'On the Basis of Sex': 6 of the Film's Stars and Their Real-Life Inspirations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  42. ^ Chuba, Kirsten (April 25, 2018). "Kathy Bates, Teller's Characters in 'Big Bang Theory' Finale Revealed". Variety. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  43. ^ "Kathy Bates Joins Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson in Netflix's 'Highwaymen'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  44. ^ "Hollywood Reporter".
  45. ^ Sacks, David (January 27, 1991). "I Never Was an Ingenue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  46. ^ "Married Oscar Winners Who Didn't Give Thanks and Later Split". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  47. ^ An Interview With Kathy Bates, Skip E. Lowe, 1991
  48. ^ "49 Celebrities Honor 49 Victims of Orlando Tragedy". Hrc.org. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  49. ^ Rothaus, Steve (June 12, 2016). "Pulse Orlando shooting scene a popular LGBT club where employees, patrons 'like family'". The Miami Herald. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  50. ^ Gariano, Francesca (December 14, 2019). "Kathy Bates opens up about double mastectomy and the painful condition that followed". TODAY.com. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  51. ^ "Kathy Bates reveals she is battling breast cancer". Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  52. ^ Celizic, Mike (January 9, 2009). "Kathy Bates reveals her triumph over ovarian cancer". MSN. Archived from the original on March 2, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  53. ^ "Lymphatic Education and Research Network, Lymphedema Lymphatic Disease – Lymphatic Education & Research Network". lymphaticnetwork.org. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  54. ^ "Honorary Board – Lymphatic Education & Research Network". lymphaticnetwork.org. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  55. ^ "WebMD Recognizes Seven Cancer Innovators With Its Health Heroes Award – The ASCO Post". www.ascopost.com. Retrieved April 10, 2019.

External linksEdit