- Longtime film actress
- Helped win the early release from prison of a New York woman who had killed her 2-year-old daughter
- Founder and chairwoman of BringChange2Mind, a national campaign whose mission is “to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness”
- Has given financial support to numerous left-wing candidates and causes
Glenn Close was born on March 19, 1947 in Greenwich, Connecticut, where she also grew up. When Close was seven years old, her parents joined a nondenominational revivalistic religious movement called Moral Re-Armament (MRA), which Close has described as “a cult, where everyone was told to think alike.” For fifteen years Close and her family remained involved with MRA, living in communal centers. During the mid-to-late 1960s, Close toured and performed with an MRA singing group called Up With People.
After graduating in 1965 from Rosemary Hall (now Choate Rosemary Hall)—a highly prestigious private school located in Wallingford, Connecticut—Close attended the College of William & Mary, where she majored in theatre. At age 22, she broke away from MRA.
Close began her professional stage career in 1974 in Love for Love, and was primarily a Broadway actress through the rest of the 1970s and early ’80s when she broke into film.1
In 2005, Close joined the FX television crime series The Shield, playing the role of a precinct captain. In 2007 she starred in an FX series of her own, titled Damages. A six-time Academy Award nominee, Close has earned three Tonys, an Obie, three Emmys, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award over the course of her acting career. She has also been nominated three times for a Grammy Award and once for a BAFTA.
Close made news headlines in the 1990s when she became a vocal advocate for Precious Bedell, a New York woman who in 1979, when she was a drug-abusing mother of three, had fatally smashed the skull of her 2-year-old daughter—thereby earning a second-degree murder conviction in 1980 and a prison sentence of 25-years-to-life in the Bedford Hills, New York women’s correctional facility. When Close visited that prison in 1991 to do research for a documentary, she met Bedell, who had recently begun counseling fellow inmates on how to be better mothers, and quickly took a strong liking to her.
Before long, Close was actively backing a campaign to free Bedell. In a letter to New York State Governor George Pataki, the actress described the inmate as an articulate and likable woman whom she herself would be perfectly comfortable hiring as a babysitter for her (Close’s) own 9-year-old daughter. During a court bid to reexamine Bedell’s murder conviction, Close wrote a letter to the judge, describing the killer as an “extraordinary” woman who “has become a role model for the women she teaches and counsels within her prison walls.” Further, Close praised Bedell for having written a handbook for jailed parents that would likely “help young mothers under stress” and “save children’s lives.” “She has served many years for an incident that lasted about eight seconds,” said Close. “If she were released now, justice would have been served.”
After Bedell was refused clemency by Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki, and was denied her request for a new trial, her legal team found a technicality by which they were able to persuade a Syracuse, New York judge in 1999 to reduce their client’s murder conviction to manslaughter, thereby making her eligible to leave prison immediately. Said former investigator John Murphy at that time: “If it wasn’t for Glenn Close, Precious Bedell would still be sitting in prison for her whole sentence.”
Close is the founder and chairwoman of BringChange2Mind, a national campaign whose mission is “to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through widely distributed Public Education Materials based on the latest scientific insights and measured for effectiveness.”
Over the years, Close has given financial support to the political campaigns of numerous leftist candidates, including Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dianne Feinstein, Ted Kennedy, and Barack Obama. She has also donated to the Democratic National Committee, EMILY’s List, and Voters For Choice.
1 Her first film role was in The World According to Garp (1982), which she followed up with supporting roles in The Big Chill (1983) and The Natural (1984). She also earned critical acclaim with her performances in Fatal Attraction (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), and Reversal of Fortune (1990).