Barbara Hershey was born Barbara Lynn Herzstein in Hollywood, California, to Melrose (Moore) and Arnold Nathan Herzstein, a horse racing columnist. Her father, born in Manhattan, was from a Jewish family (from Hungary and Russia), and her mother, originally from Arkansas, had English and Scots-Irish ancestry. Hershey was raised in a small bungalow, and had aspirations of being an actress from her earliest memories.
The multi-award-winning actress has been in some of Hollywood's most memorable films. She has been a winner of an Emmy and a Golden Globe for A Killing in a Small Town (1990). She won two consecutive Best Actress awards at the Cannes Film Festival, (which is unprecedented) for Shy People (1987) and A World Apart (1988). She won a Gemini Award for Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (2008) for PBS and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Vienna International Film Festival.
Hershey was nominated for an Academy Award for The Portrait of a Lady (1996).
She's worked with some of the world's great directors, among them: Martin Scorsese, William Wyler, Woody Allen, Jane Campion and Darren Aronofsky.
The versatile actress was first discovered by a talent agent while she was attending Hollywood High School. She began working in television, The Monroes (1966), and film, With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), with Doris Day. And with roles in The Baby Maker (1970) and Boxcar Bertha (1972), Hershey quickly advanced to starring roles.
The 1980's catapulted Hershey's film career, when she starred in The Stunt Man (1980) with Peter O'Toole, The Entity (1982), The Right Stuff (1983), The Natural (1984) with Robert Redford, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) with Woody Allen, Hoosiers (1986) with Gene Hackman, Tin Men (1987), Shy People (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), A World Apart (1988) and Beaches (1988) with Bette Midler.
Hershey returned to television in 1990 with her highly-lauded performance in A Killing in a Small Town (1990), Paris Trout (1991), Return to Lonesome Dove (1993), the British mini-series, Daniel Deronda (2002) and the last season of Chicago Hope (1994).
During the same period, Hershey remained active in features. She was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for The Portrait of a Lady (1996). She also starred in Merchant-Ivory's A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998) and the award-winning Australian film, Lantana (2001).
In the 2010 years, Hershey has performed in James Wan's cult-hit, Insidious (2010) and Darren Aronofsky's award-winning Black Swan (2010), playing Natalie Portman's insane mother.
Hershey resides in Los Angeles.More