Meryl Streep

On this date in 1949, Meryl Streep (née Mary Louise Streep) was born in Summit, N.J. Her Presbyterian parents, a commercial artist mother and pharmaceutical executive father, allowed her to attend Catholic Mass because many of her friends were Catholic. Streep dreamed of being an opera singer but gravitated to acting in high school when she received a standing ovation for playing the librarian in “The Music Man” at her school, where she was homecoming queen.

Streep studied drama and English at Vassar, graduating in 1971. She then studied at Dartmouth and Yale, performing in over 30 Yale Repertory Theatre productions (along with Sigourney Weaver) and graduated with a master’s in 1975. She had a  small but attention-grabbing role in her first film, “Julia” (1977), which starred Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. Streep earned her first Oscar nomination for “The Deer Hunter” in 1978. 

She holds the record for actress with the most Oscar nominations (21, as of 2019) and has won Best Actress twice (for “Sophie’s Choice” in 1982 and “The Iron Lady” in 2011, playing Margaret Thatcher). She won Best Supporting Actress in 1979 in “Kramer vs. Kramer.” She has won five Best or Best Supporting Actress Golden Globes. A versatile actress, she has played roles in almost every genre, from musical to drama to comedy.

Streep married sculptor Don Gummer in 1978 and they have four children. She identifies as a political liberal and has supported many causes over the years, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Americans for the Arts, Equality Now and Stand Up to Cancer.

When her movie “Doubt” (2008) debuted, she faced numerous questions on her religious views. “Doubt is our friend,” she told the London Telegraph. “And once you tip the scales in one direction or another it’s very, very dangerous.” (“Meryl Streep: mother superior,” Dec. 4, 2008.)

PHOTO: Streep in 1979; public domain photo by Jack Mitchell

Freedom From Religion Foundation