Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians
Ellen Barkin was born in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, New York, the daughter of Evelyn (nιe Rozin), a hospital administrator who worked at Jamaica Hospital, and Sol Barkin, a chemical salesman. Barkin was raised in a lower-middle-class Jewish family, a descendant of immigrants from Siberia and the Russia-Poland border.
Ellen Barkin received her high school diploma at Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts. Ellen Barkin then attended Hunter College and double majored in history and drama. At one point, Barkin wanted to teach ancient history. Ellen Barkin continued her acting education at New York City's Actors Studio. According to Time, Ellen Barkin studied acting for ten years before landing her first audition.
Her break-out role was in the comedy-drama film Diner (1982), written and directed by Barry Levinson, for which Ellen Barkin received favorable reviews. Barkin was cast in the drama film Tender Mercies (1983) after impressing its director Bruce Beresford during an audition in New York City, despite her inexperience and his lack of familiarity with her work. Robert Duvall, who played the lead role in Tender Mercies, said of Barkin, "Ellen Barkin brings a real credibility for that part, plus Ellen Barkin was young and attractive and had a certain sense of edge, a danger for her that was good for that part." Ellen Barkin also appeared in the 1983 rock & roll drama film Eddie and the Cruisers.
Barkin would later appear in several successful films, including the thrillers The Big Easy (1987), opposite Dennis Quaid and Sea of Love (1989), opposite Al Pacino. Barkin also appeared in Off-Broadway plays, including a role as one of the roommates in Extremities, about an intended rape victim played by Susan Sarandon who turns the tables on her attacker. About her performance in the play Eden Court, The New York Times critic Frank Rich summarized: "If it were really possible to give the kiss of life to a corpse, the actress Ellen Barkin would be the one to do it. In Eden Court, the moribund play that has brought her to the Promenade Theater, Miss Barkin is tantalizingly alive from her bouncing blond ponytail to the long legs that gyrate wildly and involuntarily every time an Elvis Presley record plays on stage".
Barkin has also done work in made-for-television films like Before Women Had Wings (1997) and The White River Kid (1999). Currently, Ellen Barkin voices the start of each Theme Time Radio Hour with host Bob Dylan on XM's "Deep Tracks". In 2005, Barkin set up a film production company with her brother, George, along with her husband at the time and billionaire investor, Ronald Perelman.
Most recently, Barkin has received acclaim for her performance in Another Happy Day. IndieWire have cited her turn as one the best female performances of the year and have shortlisted her as an Academy Award for Best Actress contender.
Barkin has a brother, George, who was formerly the editor-in-chief of National Lampoon and High Times. Barkin is the mother of two children, Jack Daniel (born 1989) and Romy Marion (born 1992), from her first marriage, to actor Gabriel Byrne. The two separated in 1993 and divorced in 1999, but are still close; Byrne even attended Barkin's 2000 wedding to businessman Ronald Perelman. According to New York magazine, that marriage ended in a messy divorce in 2006 with Barkin receiving $40 million. In 2007, Barkin sued Perelman for $3.4 million in investment funds he allegedly promised to invest in their film production company. He was ordered to pay her $4.3 million. Ellen Barkin is currently dating Sam Levinson.
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