- Category : Entertainment-Actor-Actress
- Type : ME
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 2
Mary Debra Winger (born May 16, 1955) is an American actress. She gained critical acclaim for her performance in Urban Cowboy in 1980. She then gave Academy Award-nominated performances in An Officer and a Gentleman, Terms of Endearment, and Shadowlands.
She has also been nominated for four Golden Globe awards, two BAFTA awards, an Emmy Award, and won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for Terms of Endearment and the Tokyo International Film Festival Award for Best Actress for A Dangerous Woman.
Winger was born as Mary Debra Winger in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, into an Orthodox Jewish family, to Robert Winger, a meat packer, and Ruth (née Felder), an office manager. She has stated publicly and with amusement that the Internet has a growing "snowball" of claims that she had volunteered in an Israeli Kibbutz, whereas she was merely on a typical Israeli youth program that visited the kibbutz. After returning to the United States, she was involved in a car accident and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage; as a result, she was left partially paralyzed and blind for ten months, having initially been told that she would never see again. With time on her hands to think about her life, she decided that, if she recovered, she would move to California and become an actress. She later recovered.
Winger's first acting role was as "Debbie" in the 1976 sexploitation film Slumber Party '57. Her next role was as Diana Prince's younger sister Drusilla (Wonder Girl) on the TV show, Wonder Woman.
Her first starring role was in Thank God It's Friday, followed by her performance in Urban Cowboy in 1980 with John Travolta, for which she received a BAFTA nomination and a pair of Golden Globe nominations (for Best Performance by an Actress and Best New Star). In 1982 she co-starred with Nick Nolte in Cannery Row and with Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress twice more: for Terms of Endearment in 1983 (which was awarded to her co-star, Shirley MacLaine, who played her mother in the film) and for Shadowlands in 1993 for which she also received her second BAFTA nomination. Her performance in A Dangerous Woman earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
Over the years Winger acquired a reputation for being outspoken and sometimes difficult to work with. She has expressed her dislike of An Officer and a Gentleman, for which she refused to do any publicity, and several other of her films, and has been dismissive of some of her co-stars and directors. Commenting on her past attitudes, Winger said in 2009, "Most bad behavior comes from insecurity. Even though I loved what I was doing, I didn't always know I could pull it off. I took my insecurities out on everybody. But in my defense, I never fought about the size of my trailer or things like that; it was always about the work". When Barbara Walters interviewed Bette Davis in 1986, Davis said "I see a great deal of myself in Debra Winger."
Winger was cast in the lead role in A League of their Own but dropped out and was replaced by Geena Davis. It was later reported that the main reason Winger chose to leave the film was her refusal to work with singer/actress Madonna.
In 1995 Winger decided to take a hiatus from acting. In 2002 she said, "I wanted out for years. I got sick of hearing myself say I wanted to quit. It's like opening an interview with "I hate interviews!" Well, get out! I stopped reading scripts and stopped caring. People said, 'We miss you so much.' But in the last six years, tell me a film that I should have been in. The few I can think of, the actress was so perfect". After making Forget Paris in 1995 she was absent from the screen for six years before returning in 2001 with Big Bad Love, written and directed by her husband, Arliss Howard, and also marking Winger's debut as a producer.
From November 1999 to January 2000 Winger had the female lead in the American Repertory Theater's production of Anton Chekhov's play Ivanov.
In 2001 a critically acclaimed documentary film titled Searching for Debra Winger was made by Rosanna Arquette and released in 2002 after Winger returned to film acting. Other films included Legal Eagles, Made in Heaven, Everybody Wins, The Sheltering Sky, Leap of Faith, Black Widow, Betrayed, Wilder Napalm, A Dangerous Woman and Sometimes in April. She earned an Emmy Award nomination for her title role in the television film Dawn Anna in 2005, directed by Arliss Howard.
In 2008 she got positive reviews as Anne Hathaway's estranged mother in Rachel Getting Married.
In 2010 she moved into television, making a guest appearance as a high school principal in an episode of Law & Order. She also joined the cast of HBO's In Treatment as one of the three patients featured in the third season.
During her hiatus from the film industry, Winger spent a semester as a teaching fellow at Harvard University.
In 1995 Winger performed as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a musical performance of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. She also narrated the "Cyclone" during that performance. It was originally broadcast on Turner Broadcasting System, and issued on CD as well as video in 1996.
In 2008 Winger wrote a book based on her personal recollections titled Undiscovered.
She has shown her support for reconciliation between Arabs and Jews in Israel by visiting the bilingual Hand in Hand schools (Galilee Jewish-Arab School, Gesher al HaWadi School) where, in 2008, she stated she would "dedicate the next bit of my life to these schools".
Winger joined other members of the Hollywood film community to speak out against the 2009 arrest and prosecution of director Roman Polanski who was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s, criticizing Switzerland's government for "philistine collusion" in arresting him so many years later.
From 1983 to 1985 Winger dated Bob Kerrey, at the time the Governor of Nebraska, whom she met while filming Terms of Endearment in Lincoln, Nebraska.
From 1986 to 1990 she was married to actor Timothy Hutton with whom she had a son, Noah Hutton, a documentary filmmaker born in 1987. They divorced three years later.
In 1996 she married actor/director Arliss Howard, whom she met on the set of the film Wilder Napalm. Their son, Gideon Babe Ruth Howard (known as Babe), was born in 1997. She is stepmother to Sam Howard.