Kathleen Turner is an actress and leftwing activist who gained fame through her roles in such films as Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor, Crimes of Passion, Romancing the Stone, Peggy Sue Got Married, The War of the Roses, and The Accidental Tourist.
Born into a Methodist family on June 19, 1954 in Springfield, Missouri, Turner grew up as the daughter of a U.S. ambassador and spent her youth living in places like Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, England, and Washington, DC — the various locations to which her father was assigned. After her father died in 1973, her mother moved the family back to Springfield.
Turner attended Southwest Missouri State University and then the University of Maryland to study voice and drama. After graduation she moved to New York, where she appeared in television commercials and theater productions. She then moved to Hollywood, where she landed a major role in the 1981 film Body Heat, which launched her career as a movie star.
Turner is the Chairwoman of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America‘s Board of Advocates. In this capacity, she has appeared in Planned Parenthood’s television and radio ad campaigns, lobbied actively for the organization in Washington, and testified before Congress on various birth-control programs. In March 2001, Turner was awarded Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award for her “extraordinary efforts on behalf of the reproductive health needs of women and families.” Previous winners of this award include Bella Abzug, Jane Fonda, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ted Turner.
She campaigned for failed 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry. According to Turner, “the entire Republican platform is designed to humiliate women. And I’m not just talking about pro-choice.”
Turner was a member of the nine-person jury at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, which awarded Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 that year’s Palme D’Or prize. “We [the jurors] felt it was more than a documentary,” Turner said of Moore’s production. “We believe this film creates its own category and that’s why it stands apart.”
Turner co-hosts the program American Dialogue on National Public Radio, along with New York City bookstore owner Charline Spektor. On the air since the Spring of 2003, the program has been distributed to some 800 public radio stations across the United States. Turner and Spektor told The New York Times that American Dialogue began partly in reaction to what they called the flag-waving, chest-thumping period after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and President Bush’s announcement of plans to invade Iraq. “The silence of the left was overwhelming,” said Turner, adding that she was “shocked” at how many senators voted for the invasion.
An active donor to Democratic/leftist political candidates and causes, Turner in recent years has given money to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List, Mark Green, John Kerry, and NARAL Pro-Choice America.