Shelley Duvall holding a cigarette

'The Shining' Actress Shelley Duvall Dead At 75

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By Kelly Coffey-Behrens on July 11, 2024 at 11:35 AM EDT
Updated on July 11, 2024 at 11:51 AM EDT

Shelley Duvall, best known for her role in "The Shining" (1980), has passed away at the age of 75.

Known for her distinctive voice and wide-eyed look, Duvall played Wendy Torrance, the wife of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), in the iconic horror film, which was directed by Stanley Kubrick. She went on to play Olive Oyl in the musical comedy "Popeye" directed by Robert Altman, starring opposite Robin Williams as Popeye.

On Thursday, June 11, Shelley Duvall's partner, Dan Gilroy, confirmed the actress's passing.

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Shelley Duvall Passed Away At Age 75

Shelley Duvall In The Shining

According to Variety, the actress died Thursday in Blanco, Texas, her partner, Dan Gilroy, confirmed with the outlet.

Perhaps her most iconic role, Duvall's performance as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel, remains one of the most talked about to this day. Her portrayal of a woman unraveling under the pressures of her husband's madness is unforgettable.

Duvall continued to act in films and television into the 1990s, including roles in "Roxanne" (1987), "The Portrait of a Lady" (1996), and guest appearances on shows like "Frasier."

In addition to her acting career, Shelley Duvall created and produced the children's television series "Faerie Tale Theatre" (1982-1987).

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Stanley Kubrick Subjected Shelley Duvall To Extreme Mistreatment On The Set Of 'The Shining'

According to Slash Film, Duvall suffered from toxic work conditions when filming the iconic horror film, especially during the confrontation on the stairs scene involving a baseball bat.

Director Stanley Kubrick made Duvall and Nicholson shoot the scene in 127 takes, which was a record for the time. As a result, Duvall's hands were shredded raw from gripping the bat for so long, her voice became hoarse from crying, her eyes were swollen, and she left the set completely dehydrated.

The scenes we see on screen of Duvall crying in pain, fear, and exhaustion were not acting, but an actress delivering lines while experiencing a trauma response.

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"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," Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter. "I don't know how I did it. Jack [Nicholson] said that to me, too. He said, 'I don't know how you do it.'"

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Horror Film Set Becomes True Horror Story For Shelley Duvall

The actress later also spoke on the director's vision for "The Shining" and how he would handle takes on set.

"[Kubrick] has a vision in his head of what he wants to see through his camera and if you don't quite understand where he is coming from he gets frustrated and angry," she said. "Communication and understanding plays a big part of film sets, I just wasn't getting it, I did in the end."

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Behind-The-Scenes Of 'The Shining'

In addition to the exhausting takes and physical toll it took on Duvall, she also suffered from anxiety while on set.

"For the longest time, I couldn't remember what exactly was happening at that moment, but I do recall I had a really bad anxiety attack on set, and I believe that was what is shown in the documentary," she told ComingSoon.

With the shooting days being 15–16 hours long and breaks being slim to none, the actress admitted, "The shoot was very hard on me, and I got to the point where I just couldn't take anymore. I needed a break, but taking a break costs money, and people need the shot done, so I had a little breakdown."

Shelley Duvall Steps Away From Acting

She stepped away from acting in the early 2000s and largely retreated from the public eye. In recent years, concerns have been raised about her mental health, particularly after a 2016 interview on "Dr. Phil" that was widely criticized for exploiting her condition.

"I guess ['The Shining'] is what most people know me for, right? And look, I won't get into too much detail now, but that film was hell to be a part of," she said on the show. "I mean, there was a great cast — Jack, Scatman [Crothers], Danny [Lloyd]. They were all wonderfully hilarious people, but then there was Stanley Kubrick, the director of this iconic masterpiece."

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"All I'll really say for now is that if he hadn't directed the way he did, if he hadn't done everything with force and cruelty, then I guess it wouldn't have turned out to be as it was," she added.

The late actress also suffered from diabetes and an injured foot, which greatly affected her mobility.

Rest in peace.

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