‘The Shining’ actress Shelley Duvall dies

Shelley Duvall

Shelley Duvall, the actress best known for her role in “The Shining,” has died from complications of diabetes. She was 75.

She died Thursday in her sleep in Blanco, Texas, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Her partner, Dan Gilroy, confirmed Duvall’s death to Variety:

“My dear, sweet, wonderful life partner and friend left us. Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away, beautiful Shelley.”

Duvall was attending junior college in her Houston, Texas, hometown when she was discovered by Robert Altman’s staff who convinced her to take a screen test.

He cast her as Suzanne Davis in 1970′s “Brewster McCloud.”

Altman also cast her as Olive Oyl in his musical, live-action adaptation of “Popeye” opposite Robin Williams.

Duvall and Altman worked together several times over her career. She told The New York Times in 1977 the reason: “He offers me damn good roles. None of them have been alike. He has a great confidence in me, and a trust and respect for me, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on me or intimidate me, and I love him.”

Intimidation however was on the set of “The Shining,” Duvall said.

Variety said that Stanley Kubrick “pushed Duvall to her limit.”

Some shots took more than 100 takes. The baseball sequence between actors Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd holds the Guinness World Record for the most takes of a scene with dialogue with 148.

She also had to cry 12 hours a day for weeks, she told People magazine in 1981.

Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter about the film shoot: “After a while, your body rebels. It says: ‘Stop doing this to me. I don’t want to cry every day.’ And sometimes just that thought alone would make me cry. To wake up on a Monday morning, so early, and realize that you had to cry all day because it was scheduled — I would just start crying. I’d be like, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t.’ And yet I did it. I don’t know how I did it. Jack said that to me, too. He said, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’”

Shelley Duvall in 'The Shining'

In addition to acting, she recorded a children’s album “Sweet Dreams” which was the basis of her Showtime series “Faerie Tale Theatre,” which won a Peabody Award, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Duvall left acting and Hollywood, returning to Texas, but appeared in “The Forest Hills” (2022) after 20 years away from the spotlight.

She talked to The New York Times this year about why she decided to leave acting in 2002.

“I was a star; I had leading roles,” Shelley Duvall told the Times. “People think it’s just aging, but it’s not. It’s violence. How would you feel if people were really nice, and then, suddenly, on a dime” -- she snapped her fingers -- “they turn on you? You would never believe it unless it happens to you. That’s why you get hurt, because you can’t really believe it’s true.”

She and Gilroy moved to Texas after her brothers became ill. Then, Gilroy said, Duvall was having issues.

“Things went downhill when she started becoming afraid of things, maybe didn’t want to work. It’s really hard to pin it on any one thing,” he told the Times. “She became paranoid and just kind of delusional, thinking she was being attacked. She tried to make calls to the F.B.I., and asked our neighbor to protect us ... It was just shocking that, suddenly, from normal, it went south like that.”

She also appeared on Dr. Phil McGraw’s daytime talk show in 2016, in an episode called “A Hollywood Star’s Descent Into Mental Illness: Saving The Shining’s Shelley Duvall,” where she told the host, “I’m very sick. I need help.”

Entertainment Tonight said that while the show never aired in full, Duvall told McGraw that Robin Williams, who died in 2014, wasn’t really dead, but was instead “shapeshifting” and that the “Sheriff of Nottingham” threatened her.

Gilroy said he wasn’t informed of the show’s filming.

Duvall was born to Bob Duvall, not the actor but rather a cattle auctioneer turned attorney, and her mother Bobbie, a realtor, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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