Virginia Cathryn "Gena" Rowlands (born June 19, 1930) is a retired American actress, whose career in film, stage, and television has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, including A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), which earned her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for Opening Night (1977). She is also known for her performances in Woody Allen's Another Woman (1988), and her son, Nick Cassavetes' film, The Notebook (2004). In November 2015, Rowlands received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of her unique screen performances.
Early roles (1952–1967). In the early 1950s, Rowlands performed with repertory theatre companies and at the Provincetown Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in The Seven Year Itch and toured in a national production of the play. In 1956, she starred in the Broadway play Middle of the Night opposite Edward G. Robinson. Rowlands costarred with Paul Stewart in the 26-episode syndicated TV series Top Secret (1954–55). She guest-starred on such anthology television series as Robert Montgomery Presents, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Studio One, Appointment with Adventure, The United States Steel Hour and Goodyear Television Playhouse, all in 1955. In 1959, Rowlands appeared in the western series Laramie, alongside her husband John Cassavetes in the detective series Johnny Staccato, and in the western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. In 1961, she appeared in the adventure series The Islanders, set in the South Pacific, and in Target: The Corruptors!, starring Stephen McNally. She guest-starred in The Lloyd Bridges Show, the detective series 77 Sunset Strip, the westerns Bonanza and The Virginian, and Breaking Point, all in 1963. In 1964, she guest-starred in the medical drama Dr. Kildare and in two episodes of Burke's Law. She appeared in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, three of which were after the series had been renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1967, she was cast as socialite Adrienne Van Leyden in the prime-time ABC soap opera Peyton Place. Rowlands made her film debut in The High Cost of Loving in 1958. In 1962, she starred in director David Miller's Lonely Are the Brave, with Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau. She played the former lover of the Kirk Douglas character, now the wife of the Douglas character's best friend. Cassavetes era (1963–1984). Rowlands and Cassavetes made ten films together: A Child Is Waiting (1963), Faces (1968), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), A Woman Under the Influence (1974; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Two-Minute Warning (1976), Opening Night (1977), Gloria (1980; nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress), Tempest (1982), and Love Streams (1984).According to Boston University film scholar Ray Carney, Rowlands sought to suppress an early version of Cassavetes' first film, Shadows, that Carney says he rediscovered after decades of searching. Rowlands also became involved in the screenings of Husbands and Love Streams, according to Carney. The UCLA Film and Television Archive mounted a restoration of Husbands, as it was pruned down (without Cassavetes' consent, and in violation of his contract) by Columbia Pictures several months after its release, in an attempt to restore as much of the removed content as possible. At Rowlands' request, UCLA created an alternative print with almost ten minutes of content edited out, as Rowlands felt that these scenes were in poor taste. The alternative print is the only one that has been made available for rental. Late career (1985–present). In 1985, Rowlands played the mother in the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie An Early Frost. She won an Emmy for her portrayal of former First Lady of the United States Betty Ford in the 1987 made-for-TV movie The Betty Ford Story. In 1988, Rowlands starred in Woody Allen's dramatic film Another Woman. She played Marion Post, a middle-aged professor who is prompted to a journey of self-discovery when she overhears the therapy sessions of another woman (Mia Farrow). The review in Time Out described the character's trajectory: "Marion gets to thinking, and is appalled to realise that so many assumptions about her own life and marriage are largely unfounded: in her desire for a controlled existence, she has evaded the emotional truth about relationships with her best friend (Sandy Dennis), brother (Harris Yulin) and husband (Ian Holm)." Time Out praised the "marvellous" performances in the film, adding, "Rowlands' perfectly pitched approach to a demanding role is particularly stunning." Film4 called her performance "sublime", while Roger Ebert noted that it marked a considerable change in tone from her work with Cassavetes, thus showing "how good an actress Rowlands has been all along."In 2002, Rowlands appeared in Mira Nair's HBO movie Hysterical Blindness, for which she won her third Emmy. Next year she appeared as Mrs. Hellman an episode from the third season of Numb3rs. She played a Nazi survivor whose whole family was killed. The family owned a painting that the Nazis confiscated. Later on the painting reappeared. The new owner lent the painting to an art gallery in Los Angeles but while on display it was stolen. F.B.I. agent Don Eppes, played by Rob Morrow, tries to figure out what really happened. Rowlands received rave reviews for this role. She has been a spokesperson for people who were persecuted by the Nazis so this role was a perfect match for her. She was later seen in The Notebook (2004), which was directed by her son Nick Cassavetes. The same year, she won her first Daytime Emmy for her role as Mrs. Evelyn Ritchie in The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie. In 2005, she appeared opposite Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Hurt in the gothic thriller The Skeleton Key. In 2007, she played a supporting role opposite Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud in Broken English, an independent American feature written and directed by her daughter Zoe Cassavetes. In 2009, she appeared on an episode of Monk ("Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door"). On March 2, 2010, she appeared on an episode of NCIS as lead character Leroy Jethro Gibbs's former mother-in-law, who is embroiled in a murder investigation. In 2014, she starred in the film adaptation of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.
Rowlands was married to John Cassavetes from April 9, 1954, until his death on February 3, 1989. They met at the American Academy at Carnegie Hall where they were both students. They had three children, all actor-directors: Nick, Alexandra, and Zoe. Rowlands married retired businessman Robert Forrest in 2012. Rowlands has stated that she was a fan of actress Bette Davis while growing up. She played Davis's daughter in the 1979 made-for-TV film, Strangers.
Movies & TV shows
Gena Rowlands: A Life on Film
An intimate portrait of the superb actress Gena Rowlands, icon of independent cinema. Together with her husband, legendary director John Cassavetes (1929-1989), she lived an unusual life beyond the dr...
Parts Per Billion
The interwoven stories of three couples which are forced to make life-altering decisions in the face of a disastrous war. Inspired and sometimes blinded by their love, Len, Mia, Andy, Esther, Anna and...
And the Oscar Goes To...
The story of the gold- plated statuette that became the film industry's most coveted prize, and the Oscar goes to. The history of the Academy began in 1927 with the birth of Louis B. Several prominent...
A young substitute teacher escapes from her drudging everyday life by fantasizing about bizarre parallel realities.
Watching Gena Rowlands
Sheila O’Malley’s insightful visual essay “Watching Gena Rowlands” rounds out the set by focusing on Rowlands’ collaborations with Cassavetes.
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
A retired woman hires a dance instructor to give her private dance lessons at her home -- one per week for six weeks. What begins as an antagonistic relationship turns into a close friendship as they ...
James Benning’s "remake" of John Cassavetes’s Faces (1968) is an unexpected venture into the world of found footage filmmaking. As Benning explains, he’s reconstructed Cassavetes’s Faces in such a way...
A mysterious child with magical powers and a great secret, invades the lives of three lonely people who learn to embrace life once again.
Cannes: All Access
From its simple beginnings in 1939 in a sleepy beach town in the south of France, the prestigious Cannes Film Festival has become the must-attend red carpet event of the year. Filmmaker Richard Schick...
What If God Were the Sun?
A grieving nurse finds comfort and inspiration in her new assignment, where she meets a terminally ill woman with a quick with and strong faith.
Nora Wilder (Parker Posey), a single, career woman works at a Manhattan boutique hotel where her excellent skills in guest relations lack in the romantic department. If it is not her loving and domina...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
Inspired by actual cases and experiences, Numb3rs depicts the confluence of police work and mathematics in solving crime as an FBI agent recruits his mathematical genius brother to help solve a wide r...
Paris, Je T'Aime
Olivier Assayas, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven and Alfonso Cuaron are among the 20 distinguished directors who contribute to this collection of 18 stories, each exploring a different aspect of Parisian lif...
Stardust: The Bette Davis Story
Combining unprecedented access to Davis' vast personal archives with original interviews, this documentary reveals a startling portrait of one of Hollywood's most gifted and enigmatic stars.
A documentary featuring interviews with actors Lynn Carlin, Gena Rowlands, and Seymour Cassel, and cinematographer Al Ruban, in which they recall how John Cassavetes' Faces came to exist.
The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie
A troubled teen is given the chance to redeem his criminal debt to society
Recruited to assist Montreal police in their desperate search for a serial killer who assumes the identities of his victims, FBI profiler Illeana Scott knows it's only a matter of time before the kill...
An epic love story centered around an older man who reads aloud to a woman with Alzheimer's. The old man's words bring to life the story of a couple who were separated during World War II, but are rec...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, a team of special agents investigates any crime that has a shred of evidence connected to Navy and Marine Corps personnel, regardless of r...
Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There
Broadway: The Golden Age is the most important, ambitious and comprehensive film ever made about America's most celebrated indigenous art form. Award-winning filmmaker Rick McKay filmed over 100 of t...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
Charms for the Easy Life
The story of three women who live in a North Carolina town and defy the traditional roles set forth for them by society.
Adrian Monk was once a rising star with the San Francisco Police Department, renowned for using unconventional means to solve the department's most baffling cases. After the murder of his wife, he dev...
Set in the 1980's, Debby Miller (Uma Thurman) goes out in New Jersey looking for a man after she is diagnosed with "hysterical blindness".
A Constant Forge
One of the great mavericks of cinema, John Cassavetes has earned a reputation as the godfather of American independent movies. The actor-turned-filmmaker invented a realist style of unadorned narrativ...
Light Keeps Me Company
Carl-Gustaf Nykvist's documentary about his father, Sven Nykvist. The film is based on Sven's memoirs with Sven himself as narrator. A journey to the place of birth, Moheda, constitutes the hub of the...
The Color of Love: Jacey's Story
Set in a small town in the South, movie centers on Georgia Potter, an old-fashioned widow (Rowlands), whose life changes drastically when her estranged daughter and the son-in-law she never met die in...
Marian and John Kerr are expecting an old friend, Lyle for a weekend visit to their beautiful upstate New York home. Emotions run high since it is the one-year anniversary of the death of John's broth...
Playing by Heart
Eleven articulate people work through affairs of the heart in L.A. Paul produces Hannah's TV cooking show. Mark is dying of AIDS. Men have scalded Meredith so she rebuffs Trent's charm, but he persist...
Grace & Glorie
When a lonely ex-New Yorker moves into the home of a rural senior to act as a hospice worker, the two initially couldn't seem to be less alike. However, as time passes, the two find much kinship inclu...
Paulie, an intelligent parrot who actually talks, relates the story of his struggle to a Russian immigrant who works as a janitor at the research institute where he is housed and neglected. Paulie's s...
This tells the story of a friendship between a young boy with Morquio's syndrome and an older boy who is always bullied because of his size. A building of trust and friendship is explored in the film,...
Birdee was humiliated on live television by her best friend, who had been sleeping with Birdee's husband, Bill. Birdee tried returning to her hometown of Texas to start over with her daughter, but she...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
The most exciting events of the day are currently being discussed on ABC daytime's morning chat fest. Hot topics in the news, the best experts in their field, celebrity interviews and general entertai...
She's So Lovely
After being released from a psychiatric institution, a man tries to redeem himself in the eyes of his now-ex wife from the events that led up to his incarceration.
2 Movies · 1 TV show
E! True Hollywood Story
Hollywood celebrities, movies, TV shows, and well-known public figures are the subject of a documentary series on E!. salacious re-tellings of Hollywood secrets, show-biz scandals, celebrity murders a...
John Cassavetes: To Risk Everything to Express It All
It’s tempting, when praising Cassavetes’s films, to resort to generalizations about the director’s admirable intentions; descriptions like “original,” “raw,” and “human,” while certainly true, need to...
Unhook the Stars
Widowed mother Mildred must suddenly redefine herself and find an outlet for her nurturing side when her adult daughter moves out of the family home. Though Mildred thinks she's found her purpose when...
Something to Talk About
Grace Bichon, who is managing her father's riding-stable, discovers that her husband Eddie is deceiving her with another woman. After confronting him in the middle of the night on the streets of their...
The Neon Bible
While on a train, a teenage boy ponders about his life and his aunt, who was an emotional shield from his troubled family. A film about a boy's life in a rural 1940s Southern town evokes the haunting ...
Anything for John
An intimate portrait of actor-writer-director John Cassavetes and a loving tribute to his genius for studying and depicting the human character. In-depth, candid interviews with his wife and muse Gena...
In 1942, the Japanese occupied the island of Singapore. During the take-over, not only military soldiers were taken prisoner, but also innocent civilians, particularly women and children. This is the ...
Face of a Stranger
After the death of her husband, Pat learns that he gambled away all of their savings and that she's now destitute. She may even have to leave their apartment. Much to the embarrassment of her daughter...
Night on Earth
An anthology of 5 different cab drivers in 5 American and European cities and their remarkable fares on the same eventful night.
Renata Bella feels like a failure at life and career. But when Renata attends a seminar on selling real estate, she finally finds True Love. Sam Sharpe, while a top-notch, successful salesman, is much...
A documentary focusing on seventeen maverick directors who were not afraid to break the rules of filmmaking to advance their art. Among the classic directors profiled are D.W. Griffith, Josef von Ster...
Hoyce and Bess Guthrie are long married Montana ranchers who come to a major crossroads in their lives. An oil company has offered to buy them out and Hoyce wants to sell while Bess hopes to keep the ...
A woman by the name ofMarion has learned to protect herself from her emotions. She rents an apartment to work on her new book, but by an acoustic quirk she can hear everything that is said in the next...
The Betty Ford Story
Chris Chase and Betty Ford wrote The Times of My Life which was the basis for the film.
Light of Day
Fox and Jett play a brother and sister who are lead performers in a rock band, The Barbusters, in Cleveland, Ohio. The sister, Patti Rasnick, is an unmarried mother and has a troubled relationship wit...
An Early Frost
Set in the mid-eighties Michael Pierson, a young gay man, is struck with AIDS in the prime of his life. He's forced to be open about the disease and his homosexuality for the first time with his co-wo...
I'm Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes - The Man and His Work
Filmmaker Michael Ventura follows the actor/director as he works on his final film, Love Streams.
Two closely-bound, emotionally wounded siblings reunite after years apart.
A beautiful and young girl named Rapunzel is taken from her parents by an evil witch and brought up in an isolated tower that can only be accessed by climbing her unnaturally long and blonde hair unti...
Sam Alden is the 17-year-old high school star player in baseball who seems to have it all. However, his family notices that he is often bothered with fits of coughing. Worried, his parents decide to t...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Faerie Tale Theatre
A live-action children's television anthology series retelling popular fairy tales.
A sobering mid-life crisis fuels dissatisfaction in Philip Dimitrius, to the extent where the successful architect trades his marriage and career in for a spiritual exile on a remote Greek island wher...
When a young boy's family is killed by the mob, their tough neighbor Gloria becomes his reluctant guardian. In possession of a book that the gangsters want, the pair go on the run in New York.
Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter
A woman, who had left home 20 years previously under acrimonious circumstances, finds out that she is terminally ill. She returns home and tries to rebuild her relationship with her embittered mother ...
The Brink's Job
In 1950, a group of unlikely criminal masterminds commits the robbery of the century. Led by Tony Pino (Peter Falk), a petty thief fresh out of prison, and Joe McGinnis (Peter Boyle), who specializes ...
A Question of Love
A lesbian mother fights to keep her son when a custody suit is brought by her ex-husband.
Actress Myrtle Gordon is a functioning alcoholic actress who is a few days from the opening night of her latest play, concerning a woman distraught about aging. One night a car kills one of Myrtle's f...
A psychotic sniper plans a massive killing spree in a Los Angeles football stadium during a major championship game. The police, led by Captain Peter Holly (Charlton Heston) and SWAT commander Sergean...
A Woman Under the Influence
Mabel Longhetti, desperate and lonely, is married to a Los Angeles municipal construction worker, Nick. Increasingly unstable, especially in the company of others, she craves happiness, but her extrem...
1 TV show
Ghost Story is an American television anthology series that aired for one season on NBC from 1972 to 1973. Executive-produced by William Castle, Ghost Story initially featured supernatural entities su...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Columbo is a friendly, disheveled-looking police detective who is consistently underestimated by his suspects. He solved all of his cases despite his unprepossessing appearance and was able to get all...
Minnie and Moskowitz
Depressed and jaded after being dumped by her married boyfriend, aging beauty Minnie Moore wonders if she'll ever find love. After shaggy-haired parking lot attendant Seymour Moskowitz comes to her d...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
Medical Center is a medical drama series which aired on CBS from 1969 to 1976. It was produced by MGM Television.
Filmmakers of Our Time: John Cassavetes
This is a 1968 French documentary that was probably shot just after or during the making of his great marriage disaster film, ‘Faces.’
Machine Gun McCain
After serving 12 years behind bars for armed robbery, tough guy Hank McCain finds himself the pawn of a ruthless mob runt's rebellion against a high level don. When McCain discovers that he's been bet...
Middle-aged suburban husband Richard abruptly tells his wife, Maria, that he wants a divorce. As Richard takes up with a younger woman, Maria enjoys a night on the town with her friends and meets a yo...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Tony Rome, a tough Miami PI living on a houseboat, is hired by a local millionaire to find jewelry stolen from his daughter, and in the process has several encounters with local hoods as well as the M...
Garrison's Gorillas is an ABC TV series broadcast from 1967 to 1968; a total of 26 hour-long episodes were produced. It was inspired by the 1967 film The Dirty Dozen, which featured a similar scenario...
1 TV show
Run for Your Life
Run for Your Life is an American television drama series starring Ben Gazzara as a man with only a short time to live. It ran on NBC from 1965 to 1968. The series was created by Roy Huggins, who had p...
1 Movie · 2 TV shows
Kraft Suspense Theatre
Kraft Suspense Theatre is an American anthology series that was telecast from 1963 to 1965 on NBC. Sponsored by Kraft Foods, it was seen three weeks out of every four and was pre-empted for Perry Como...
A Child Is Waiting
There is a doctor named Dr. The head of the state institution for intellectually disabled children is Matthew Clark. Jean Hansen, a former music teacher anxious to give her life some meaning, joined t...
Burke's Law is an American detective series that ran on ABC from 1963 to 1965 and was revived on CBS in the 1990s. The show starred Gene Barry as Amos Burke, millionaire captain of Los Angeles police ...
2 Movies · 2 TV shows
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
The master of suspense and mystery, Alfred Hitchhiker, hosted a continuation of the dramatic anthology series.
The Virginian is an American Western television series starring James Drury and Doug McClure, which aired on NBC from 1962 to 1971 for a total of 249 episodes. It was a spin-off from a 1958 summer ser...
Lonely Are the Brave
A fiercely independent cowboy arranges to have himself locked up in jail in order to then escape with an old friend who has been sentenced to the penitentiary.
The Spiral Road
A selfish and prideful young Dutch doctor, through a series of circumstances, comes to learn that he does indeed "need" a higher spiritual being and other people.
3 TV shows
Target: The Corruptors!
Target: The Corruptors! is an American crime drama series starring Stephen McNally which aired on ABC from September 29, 1961 to June 8, 1962. The series was produced by Dick Powell's Four Star Televi...
87th Precinct is an American crime drama starring Robert Lansing, Gena Rowlands, and Ron Harper, which aired on NBC on Monday evenings during the 1961–1962 television season.
The story of a young intern in a large metropolitan hospital trying to learn his profession, deal with the problems of his patients, and win the respect of the senior doctor in his specialty, internal...
1 TV show
The Islanders is an American adventure television series which aired on ABC from 1960 to 1961, starring William Reynolds, James Philbrook, and Diane Brewster. At the beginning of the series, Sandy Wa...
1 Movie · 4 TV shows
Laramie is an American Western television series that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1963. A Revue Studios production, the program originally starred John Smith as Slim Sherman, Robert Fuller as Jess Harpe...
Johnny Staccato is an American private detective series which ran for 27 episodes on NBC from September 10, 1959 through March 24, 1960.
Adventures in Paradise
Adventures in Paradise is an American television series created by James Michener which ran on ABC from 1959 until 1962, starring Gardner McKay as Adam Troy, the captain of the schooner Tiki III, whic...
Riverboat is a 44-episode western television series starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds broadcast on the NBC television network from September 13, 1959 until January 2, 1961. It was produced by ...
John Cassavetes’s directorial debut revolves around a romance in New York City between Lelia, a light- skinned black woman, and Tony, a white man. The relationship is put in jeopardy when Tony meets L...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
77 Sunset Strip
77 Sunset Strip is an hour-length American television private detective series created by Roy Huggins and starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Roger Smith, and Edd Byrnes. The show was the subject of an ow...
The High Cost of Loving
Middle-aged middle-manager Jim Fry, with the same company for fifteen years, is in a comfortable rut. But life becomes less predictable when he doesn't receive an invitation to an important luncheon b...
1 TV show
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchhiker hosted the television anthology series. dramas, thrillers, and mysteries are included in the series.
1 TV show
General Electric Theater
General Electric Theater is an American anthology series hosted by Ronald Reagan that was broadcast on CBS radio and television. The series was sponsored by General Electric's Department of Public Rel...
1 TV show
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Hallmark Hall of Fame is an anthology program on American television, sponsored by Hallmark Cards, a Kansas City based greeting card company. The longest-running primetime series in the history of tel...
1 TV show
Robert Montgomery Presents
Robert Montgomery Presents is an American dramatic television series which was produced by NBC from January 30, 1950 until June 24, 1957. The live show had several sponsors during its seven-year run, ...
1 TV show
An American radio–television anthology series, created in 1947 by Canadian director Fletcher Markle, who came to CBS from the CBC.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gena_Rowlands", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.