Debra Winger was the must see star of the 80’s. She played Sissy opposite John Travolta in the hit Urban Cowboy ( 1980). As Sissy, she taught the world that riding a mechanical bull can be truly sexy. She went on to be nominated for two Academy Awards, one for An Officer and A Gentleman in 1982 and then for Terms of Endearment in 1983. Three hits back to back to back. This woman was suposed to bring greatness for the rest of her film career. Her reputation as a great talent, as well as her reputation as a difficult actress kept growing as her career hurdled on. She was known to throw tantrums on set, throw things, be uncoraprative and just plain being a bitch. She infamously hit Shirley Maclaine on the set of Terms of Endearment, at least thats what Maclaine wrote in her autobiography My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir. But according to Winger it was all good fun. She went on to decline many roles that could have won her a few Oscars. The movie Broadcast News was suposedly written just for Winger, but after looking as the script she walked away from the production. The role of Jain Craig was given to Holly Hunter, and it was the role that made her famous. Broadcast News very well may have gotten Winger that long anticipated Oscar. Another role she turned down was Dotty Hinson in A League of Their Own.
She found love on the set of the film Wilder Napalm (1993) when she co-starred opposite Arliss Howard, who became her next husband. The film flopped but their marriage lasted. She got good reviews for A Dangerous Woman (1993), but it was Shadowlands (1993) which finally brought her renewed respectability and her third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.
At 40 I guess Winger felt that there were no good roles for her so she became a suburban wife taking care of her two young sons. In 1997 her six-year absence from films inspired a documentary by Rosanna Arquette titled Searching for Debra Winger (2002), which is about ageism in Hollywood. In 2001, she returned to acting for her husband’s film Big Bad Love (2001), which she also co-produced. It renewed her love for acting, and she has ventured out into television as well by earning her first Emmy nomination as Best Actress for Dawn Anna (2005) (TV) directed by her husband.
In 2008 she published a sort of memior of her life called Undiscovered. This was promoted by news shows as a tell-all novel, but Debra shot that down right away during an interview on The View. I went out and bought the memior the first day it was out in the book stores and I was pleasently surprised. Actually, I loved it! One thing that repeats its self in the book is that she loved the work, but hated the business.
So, we might see Debra break back into film in the coming years. There is a movie coming out this year called Rachel Getting Married, where she plays the mother of a drug addict, and it will give a chance to see is Debra still has it!
But there is no denying it, Debra Winger is one of the greatest actresses of our time.