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Martha Coolidge

Martha Coolidge
Born Martha Patterson Coolidge
(1946-08-17) August 17, 1946 (age 69)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Alma mater Rhode Island School of Design, NYU Tisch School of the Arts
Occupation Film director, film editor, film producer, screenwriter, television director
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) James Spencer

Martha Coolidge (born August 17, 1946) is an American film director and former President of the Directors Guild of America.[1] She has directed such films as Real Genius and Rambling Rose.

Early life and family

Coolidge was born in New Haven, Connecticut. She is a granddaughter of Arthur W. Coolidge, former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, who was himself a fifth cousin of President Calvin Coolidge. She was date raped at age 16, a trauma that inspired her feature-length directorial debut, Not a Pretty Picture.[2]

Coolidge studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, but changed majors, becoming the first film major at the school. She earned her MFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Later in Los Angeles she studied acting and other aspects of her craft with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Joanne Baron, and David Craig.


Coolidge first made her reputation by directing many award winning documentaries in New York. While in New York, she helped found the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) and the IFP.

She moved to Hollywood in 1976 and spent several years as a part of the Zoetrope Studio created by Francis Ford Coppola. Her breakthrough film was the independently produced Valley Girl (1983), which is now best remembered for launching the career of Nicolas Cage, who is actually Francis Ford Coppola's nephew. It also helped the popularity of the British band Modern English's hit song I Melt with You. Her film Rambling Rose (1991) won three IFP Independent Spirit Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress for Diane Ladd, and earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Ladd and Laura Dern (Best Actress). Rambling Rose was well reviewed and made many top ten lists for the year. Despite a limited release hampered by economic problems suffered by the production company, the film played for months without advertising and earned many honors.

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) for HBO was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, winning five, including Best Actress for its star, Halle Berry, and earned Coolidge an Emmy and DGA (Director's Guild of America) nominations for Best Director.

From 2002 to 2003 she was the Director's Guild of America's first female president.

Awards and memberships

In 1992, Coolidge was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[3] In 2005 she was inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame.

She has also served on the board of the Directors Guild of America, the Academy of Motion Pictures, and the American Film Institute.

Selected filmography


External links

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