Shelley Duvall Dead: ‘The Shining Actress Dies at 75

The actress was most well-known for her performance as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's horror classic, but she also appeared in classics like 'Annie Hall' and 'Popeye.'

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Actress Shelley Duvall attends the Eighth Annual CableACE Awards Nominees Luncheon on January 19, 1987 at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
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Image Credit: Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Shelley Duvall died on Thursday, July 11. She was 75 years old. Shelley was a critically-acclaimed actress, appearing in a number of hit movies (many of which were directed by Robert Altman), including 3 WomenMcCabe and Mrs. Miller, and more. Still, her most famous (and controversial) role was in 1980’s The Shining, where she starred as Wendy Torrance alongside Jack Nicholson in the Stanley Kubrick-directed horror classic.

Shelley passed following complications from diabetes in her home in Blanco, Texas, according to The Hollywood ReporterHer longtime partner Dan Gilroy confirmed the news of her death. Dan shared a brief statement paying tribute to the late actress. “My dear, sweet, wonderful life partner and friend left us. Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away, beautiful Shelley,” he told THR.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1949, Shelley first met Robert Altman in 1970 when he was filming the comedy Brewster McCloud in Texas. She met the director at a party, and he offered her a role in the film. After accepting, she flew off to Hollywood, and subsequently starred in six more movies directed by Robert, most notably Popeye, where she played the love interest Olive Oyl, and Robin Williams starred in the title role.

Before Shelley was cast in Popeye in 1980, she began working on the most famous film of her career: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. She starred as Wendy Torrance opposite Jack Nicholson, who played the writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance, who slips into madness while overseeing a resort through the winter. While the movie is iconic, it has also faced its share of controversy. The Shining author Stephen King was notably critical, calling the portrayal misogynistic, according to Far Out Magazine

Actress Shelley Duvall in a scene from the movie '3 Women', 1977. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)

Shelley opened up about the impact that the film had on her mental health in a 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. There had long been rumors about her clashing with the director, with some people calling his style of directing abusive. Known for his perfectionism and repetitive takes, Shelley explained how hard it was to make the film. “You just think about something very sad in your life or how much you miss your family or friends. But after a while, your body rebels. It says: ‘Stop doing this to me. I don’t want to cry every day.’ And sometimes just that thought alone would make me cry. To wake up on a Monday morning, so early, and realize that you had to cry all day because it was scheduled — I would just start crying. I’d be like, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t.’ And yet I did it. I don’t know how I did it,” she told the outlet.

Despite much conversation about the film, Shelley did push back a little on the rumors in that THR interview. ” He was very warm and friendly to me,” she said.

NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1980: Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson circa 1980 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Throught the 80s and 90s, Shelley continued to appear in various roles. In 2002, she had a small part in the indie film Manna from Heaven, and afterward she took an extended break from acting. In 2016, she made a controversial appearance on Dr. Phil, where it was reported that she was suffering from a mental illness. The appearance was highly criticized, and she later expressed regret about the appearance.

Shelley made a return to acting in the 2023 horror film The Forest Hills, which is now her final role. Shelley was briefly married to Bernard Sampson, but they divorced in 1974. She began dating musician Dan Gilroy in 1989, and they remained together until her death.