On Christmas Day in 1949, Edwin and Virginia Spacek of Quitman, Texas welcomed a daughter to their family. They named her Mary Elizabeth, but the brothers just called her “Sissy.”
From the time she was 6, Sissy Spacek loved the stage, making her acting debut in a local talent show. Any shyness she struggled with was conquered when her next older brother, Robbie, died of leukemia when Sissy was 17. Of this defining event, Sissy later said, “I think it made me brave. Once you experience something like that, you’ve experienced the ultimate tragedy. And if you can continue, nothing else frightens you.”
Sissy began her career soon after she finished school, gaining attention in 1973 for a role in the film Badlands. Then in 1976 she played the title role in Carrie, a film based on a horror novel by Stephen King, and earned an Oscar nomination. In 1980 she won an Academy Award as Best Actress and a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in the movie about her life and also a Grammy nomination for the theme song in Coal Miner’s Daughter. Since that time, Sissy Spacek has been nominated for a total of six Oscars and three Golden Globes. Other movies you may remember her from include Tuck Everlasting and The Help, which came out in 2011.