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Piper Laurie, Celebrated Thrice for Academy Awards, Renowned for Roles in ‘The Hustler’ and ‘Carrie,’ Passes Away at 91

by Andrew Wright
8 comments
Piper Laurie Obituary

Piper Laurie, the formidable and Oscar-nominated actress who delivered memorable performances even after a period of deliberate withdrawal from the acting world in pursuit of a life of greater significance, passed away on Saturday morning at her residence in Los Angeles. She was 91 years old.

Laurie’s cause of death was natural aging, according to her manager, Marion Rosenberg, who conveyed the news to The Big Big News through an email correspondence. Rosenberg praised Laurie as an “exceptional artist and an extraordinary individual.”

Upon her arrival in Hollywood in 1949 under her original name, Rosetta Jacobs, she was promptly signed by Universal-International. Despite her dissatisfaction with the name change, she gained early fame through roles opposite Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson, and Tony Curtis, among other notable figures.

Laurie garnered Academy Award nominations for her performances in three separate films: the 1961 billiards drama “The Hustler”; the 1976 cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s horror masterpiece “Carrie”; and the emotive drama “Children of a Lesser God” in 1986. Her versatile talent also spanned the realms of television and stage, including a striking role as the malevolent Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” during the 1990s.

Making her cinematic debut at the age of 17 in “Louisa,” in which she portrayed Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Laurie continued to gain visibility through films such as “Francis Goes to the Races,” sharing the screen with the famous talking mule Francis, and several films opposite Tony Curtis, with whom she was romantically involved for a time.

Dissatisfied with the quality of roles offered to her, Laurie terminated her $2,000-per-week contract in 1955, asserting that she would not resume acting until provided with substantive roles. Relocating to New York, she discovered the fulfilling roles she sought in live television dramas and theater.

Her standout performances in works like “Days of Wine and Roses,” “The Deaf Heart,” and “The Road That Led After” earned her Emmy nominations and facilitated her return to film, notably as Paul Newman’s conflicted love interest in “The Hustler.”

In subsequent years, Laurie chose to distance herself from her acting career. She married film critic Joseph Morgenstern, welcomed a daughter named Ann Grace, and settled in a farmhouse in Woodstock, New York. Laurie stated that her life choices were influenced by social movements like the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Expressing no regrets about her life choices, Laurie later stated, “My life was fulfilling. I have always enjoyed manual activities and painting.”

Laurie also achieved recognition as a skilled baker, with her recipes even making appearances in The New York Times. Her sole return to the limelight during this period was her participation in a college campus tour supporting Senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign.

Laurie’s hiatus from acting ended when director Brian De Palma approached her for a role in “Carrie.” Initially skeptical about the script, Laurie’s perspective changed when De Palma corrected her comedic interpretation of a scene, making clear his intention for the film to be a thriller. “Carrie” was a commercial success, igniting a trend for films centered around imperiled teenagers and earning both Laurie and Sissy Spacek Academy Award nominations.

Reviving her passion for acting, Laurie’s subsequent career was prolific, spanning various decades. On television, she appeared in series such as “Matlock,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Frasier,” and portrayed George Clooney’s mother on “ER.”


The primary author of this obituary was Bob Thomas, a longstanding and now deceased staff writer for The Big Big News. Additional contributions were made by Hannah Fingerhut, a writer for The Big Big News, reporting from Des Moines, Iowa.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Piper Laurie Obituary

What was Piper Laurie’s cause of death?

Piper Laurie passed away due to natural aging, as confirmed by her manager, Marion Rosenberg.

How old was Piper Laurie when she died?

Piper Laurie was 91 years old at the time of her death.

For which films was Piper Laurie nominated for Academy Awards?

Piper Laurie received Academy Award nominations for her roles in “The Hustler” (1961), “Carrie” (1976), and “Children of a Lesser God” (1986).

Did Piper Laurie ever take a break from acting?

Yes, Piper Laurie took a self-imposed hiatus from acting for several years, during which she focused on leading a life she considered to be more meaningful.

What prompted Piper Laurie to return to acting?

Piper Laurie returned to acting when director Brian De Palma approached her for a role in the film “Carrie.” She initially hesitated but ultimately accepted the role, which reignited her passion for acting.

Was Piper Laurie active in social or political causes?

Yes, Piper Laurie participated in a college campus tour supporting Senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign. Her decision to step away from acting for several years was also influenced by social movements like the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Did Piper Laurie have any other talents aside from acting?

Piper Laurie was noted as a skilled baker, with her recipes even being featured in The New York Times. She also expressed a passion for manual activities and painting.

Who are some of the notable actors Piper Laurie worked with during her career?

During her career, Piper Laurie worked with several notable actors, including Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, and Paul Newman, among others.

Did Piper Laurie have a family?

Yes, Piper Laurie was married to film critic Joseph Morgenstern and they had a daughter named Ann Grace.

Who contributed to the writing of the obituary?

The primary author of the obituary was Bob Thomas, a longstanding and now deceased staff writer for The Big Big News. Additional contributions were made by Hannah Fingerhut, who is also a writer for The Big Big News.

More about Piper Laurie Obituary

  • Piper Laurie’s IMDb Profile
  • Academy Awards Nomination History
  • Piper Laurie’s Contribution to George McGovern’s 1972 Campaign
  • Marion Rosenberg’s Statement on Piper Laurie’s Death
  • The New York Times Feature on Piper Laurie’s Recipes
  • Brian De Palma’s Filmography, including “Carrie”
  • Overview of Social Movements Influencing Piper Laurie’s Career Choices

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8 comments

Nancy_O October 15, 2023 - 9:30 am

oh my god, she was so young at heart even at 91. The article does justice to her versatile career. Also, she was a baker? didn’t know that!

Reply
JohnDoe October 15, 2023 - 11:20 am

So sad to hear about Piper Laurie. what an amazing actress. Her roles were iconic, esp in “The Hustler” and “Carrie”. RIP.

Reply
SarahInNYC October 15, 2023 - 11:49 am

the social causes part got me. She was not just an actress but also an activist in her own right. The world has lost a gem.

Reply
MovieBuff101 October 15, 2023 - 1:07 pm

A life well lived, I’d say. She took a break from acting, then came back and killed it. How many can say that, really?

Reply
TheatreGeek October 15, 2023 - 3:37 pm

Piper Laurie was just as amazing on stage as she was in films. Her Emmy noms prove that. She’ll be missed in every realm of acting.

Reply
JuliaArts October 15, 2023 - 6:02 pm

Readin this, you realize how much she did in her lifetime. Acting, baking, political activism, painting. She lived multiple lives in one.

Reply
FrankTheCritic October 15, 2023 - 9:22 pm

Kudos to the writers for this comprehensive obituary. It’s not often you see such a detailed and respectful tribute to someone’s life and work.

Reply
Cinephilia4Ever October 15, 2023 - 11:53 pm

From Reagan to Tony Curtis to Paul Newman… that’s a resume. And taking a break for something ‘more meaningful’, that takes guts. Hats off.

Reply

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