Katt Shea

Kathleen Ann Shea (born October 9, 1956)[1] is an American actress, film director and teacher best known for the film Poison Ivy (1992).

Katt Shea
Kathleen Ann Shea

(1956-10-09) October 9, 1956 (age 64)
Other namesKatt Shea Ruben
OccupationActress, director
Andy Ruben
(m. 1979; div. 1992)

Early lifeEdit

Shea was born in Detroit, Michigan to an artist father and nurse mother.[2] She studied teaching at the University of Michigan from which she graduated with honors. After graduating, she spent six months teaching blind children,[3] before taking off at age 19 to Hollywood, California where she started her early modeling career and for a short time attended University of California, Los Angeles.[4]

"I was directing plays I'd written in my back yard when I was twelve", she said later. "I was a total misfit and didn't have any friends, so that's what I did instead. I recruited younger kids from the neighborhood, and their parents paid me to put them in my productions. I made some pretty good money, actually. Helped put me through college. Yay for being a misfit! Yay for not having friends!"[5]


Shea worked as an actor and model for a number of years, including appearing in a small role in Scarface and Psycho III.[6][7]

"I was never comfortable being an actress", she said in a 1992 interview. "It was the most ridiculous thing; I am like the antithesis of that. I really, truly am very shy. ... I did it for seven years, and I can't believe I lived through that."[8]

Writer and directorEdit

In 1986, she was on location in the Philippines when she struck up a friendship with Andy Ruben. The two of them started writing scripts together, and succeeded in getting The Patriot (1986) made for Roger Corman. Corman agreed to finance another Ruben-Shea script with Shea directing, Stripped to Kill. The resulting movie was successful and launched her directorial career.[7]

Shea made a number of films for Corman based on scripts by herself and Ruben. Corman later described her as a ""talented director. She's particularly good with actors, having been an actress herself. She's taught herself about the camera and has gotten better with each picture."[9]

In a 1990 review of Streets, the Los Angeles Times said Shea "continues to show that she is a first-rate talent, as terrific at handling hard action with style and dispatch as a drawing the best from her casts."[10]

According to Corman, the films she made for him cost less than $500,000 on average and made between $5–10 million.[11] She was then hired by New Line to make Poison Ivy which was a critical and popular hit.

In 1992 her films were honoured with a four-day retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art including the New York premiere of Poison Ivy.[12] According to Larry Karidish, a curator of film at the museum:

Katt's work is distinctive for its style, rhythm, the progression of its narrative. Her movies touch something deep in the psyche. They have a consistent and coherent sensibility and I thought it would make sense to show her work as a body.[11]

She now works as an acting teacher.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Katt Shea married collaborator Andy Ruben. They divorced in 1992 after 13 years of marriage.[11]

Select creditsEdit

Unmade projectsEdit

  • Prince Ombra (c 1993) from novel by Roderick MacLeish for producer Sydney Pollack[14]
  • Dance of the Damned (c. 2011) – proposed remake of her earlier film[15]
  • The Tutor – adapted from the novel by Peter Abrahams
  • The List – a teen drama based on her own script
  • Hystere, Imps of Perversity – horror anthology TV series developed with Mary Lambert[16]


  1. ^ "United States Public Records, 1970–2009", database, FamilySearch (23 May 2014), Katt Shea, Residence, Santa Clarita, California, United States; a third-party aggregator of publicly available information.
  2. ^ Michael J. Bandler (June 28, 1992). "Vim and Venom". Chicago Tribune.
  3. ^ Cowie, Peter (1990). Variety International Film Guide. André Deutsch. p. 377. ISBN 978-0-2339-8613-5.
  4. ^ Katt Shea Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  5. ^ "From Corman to Classes: A Conversation with Katt Shea". Full Circle Magazine. February 2009.
  6. ^ Chris Nashawaty, Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses – Roger Corman: King of the B Movie, Abrams, 2013 p 195-196.
  7. ^ a b "Director Katt Shea talks about her 1980's Roger Corman produced films" TV Store Online February 3, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  8. ^ Donald Porter (June 1992). "Interview with Katt Shea". The Occasional Critic Blog – via Blogger.
  9. ^ Tim Purtell (February 5, 1993). "Roger Corman's proteges -- A look at the new batch of mainstream movie makers, from Curtis Hanson to Katt Shea"". Entertainment Weekly.
  10. ^ K T. (April 6, 1990). "FILM REVIEW: A Low-Budget Gem in 'Streets' Teen Thriller". Los Angeles Times. p. F9.
  11. ^ a b c LAURIE HALPERN BENENSON. (May 3, 1992). "How 'Poison Ivy' Got Its Sting: The studio wanted a teen-age 'Fatal Attraction.' Katt Shea's movie may be more than that. 'Poison Ivy': Art or Exploitation?". New York Times. p. 70.
  12. ^ Rob Nelson, (March 17, 1999), "Katt in the Director's Chair" City Pages Archived May 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Acting Classes
  14. ^ Pond, Steve. (Sep 3, 1993). "Dateline Hollywood: 'Jurassic Park's' New Mark". The Washington Post. p. G7.
  15. ^ Scott Hallam (June 24, 2011). "Director Katt Shea Taps Erik Fellows to Haunt Dance of the Damned Remake". Dread Central. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  16. ^ Katt Shea Biography at Katt Shea

External linksEdit