Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Burstyn, Ellen

Born Edna Rae Gillooly in Detroit, Michigan, Burstyn was born to parents Correine Marie (neé Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly on December 7, 1932.  Burstyn attended Cass Technical High School where she majored in fashion illustration.  As a cheerleader, a member of student council, president of her junior class, Burstyn dropped out of Cass after failing her senior classes.  At the age of eighteen, Burstyn began modeling for J.L. Hudson, Detroit’s largest Department store. 

After some time, she left Detroit for Texas, and then New York, where she began her career as an actress on Broadway.  Burstyn found her way to Los Angeles where she went into films and delivered performances in movies, which include: The Last Picture Show, The Exorcist, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress), Same Time, Next Year, Resurrection, and Requiem for a Dream.

Burstyn has been married three times and has one son, Jeff.   In 1997, Burstyn was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. 

Written by Stacy Newman