Jodie Foster

On this date in 1962, actress Alicia Christian “Jodie” Foster was born in Los Angeles. Her parents divorced before she was born and she never established a relationship with her father. Her professional debut was at age 3 in a Coppertone Suntan lotion commercial. Foster made a series of TV appearances and movies as a child, the first on “Mayberry R.F.D., and was once mauled by a lion while making a Disney film. Her breakthrough role was as a preteen prostitute in “Taxi Driver” (1976).

She graduated from a French-language prep school, the Lycée Français de Los Angeles, in 1980. During her freshman year at Yale, John Hinckley Jr., obsessed with her in “Taxi Driver,” started stalking her. Hinckley tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in a warped paean to Foster in 1981. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in literature in 1985.

She has earned two Academy Awards as best actress, for “The Accused” (1988) and for “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). Her many movies include “Nell” (1994), and “Contact” (1997), in which she memorably portrayed the atheist astronomer protagonist based on Carl Sagan‘s novel. She has also directed movies, including “Little Man Tate” (1991) and “Home for the Holidays” (1995). Her latest role as of this writing in 2019 was in “Hotel Artemis” (2018).

Foster’s sexual orientation became a subject in 1991 when activists protesting alleged homophobia in “The Silence of the Lambs” claimed she was a closeted lesbian. While she had long been in a relationship with Cydney Bernard, Foster first publicly acknowledged her orientation in 2007. She and Bernard split in 2008 after 15 years together, with joint custody of sons Charles and Kit (ages 20 and 17 in 2019). Foster married photographer Alexandra Hedison in 2014. She has said she would tell Charles who his biological father is when he turned 21. 

“People are always surprised when I say that I’m an atheist,” Foster told Esquire magazine (“What I’ve Learned,” Dec. 14, 2010). “In my home, we ritualize all of them. We do Christmas. We do Shabbat on Fridays. We love Kwanzaa. I take pains to give my family a real religious basis, a knowledge, because it’s being well educated. You need to know why all those wars were fought.”

Photo: Foster at the 1989 Academy Awards; photo by Alan Light.

Freedom From Religion Foundation