Beverly D’Angelo Is the Mom We’ll Always Remember
Beverly D'Angelo isn't the biggest Hollywood star. Her hallways aren't lined with awards. Yet nearly everyone remembers her face from somewhere. That's because D'Angelo played Ellen Griswold, the quintessential maternal figure, in "National Lampoon's Vacation."
The role was her first big break, but it's far from the most interesting part of her life. The next time you watch "Vacation," think about these Beverly D'Angelo facts. You'll look at Ellen Griswold in a whole new way.
Beverly D'Angelo Has Appeared in Over 60 Films
To start, Beverly D'Angelo is much more prolific than most people realize. You can spot her in more than 60 different movies, and she played major roles in many of them.
She was even nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Patsy Cline in "Coal Miner's Daughter" in 1980. A few years later, she was also nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance as Stella Kowalski in the TV version of "A Streetcar Named Desire."
While she lost both nominations, her roles in both films were nothing short of iconic. She also played the memorable roles of Sheila Franklin in "Hair" and Doris Vinyard in "American History X."
D'Angelo Could Easily Have Become a Musician Instead
D'Angelo is multitalented and could easily have found success along more artistic avenues than acting. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio, raised by two prestigious musicians. Her mother, Pricilla Ruth, was an accomplished violinist, and her father, Eugene "Gene" D'Angelo, was a bass player. He also was a station manager at WBNS-TV in Columbus. Meanwhile, her maternal grandfather was a renowned architect responsible for designing Ohio Stadium at Ohio State University.
When D'Angelo reached young adulthood, she explored a few artistic careers before settling on acting. She was first an illustrator at Hanna-Barbera Studios, then a backup singer in Canada for rockabilly singer Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins and his band, The Hawks.
The band later split off on their own and evolved into simply "The Band," one of the most renowned Canadian rock bands of the 1970s. However, by that time, D'Angelo had moved on to pursue her acting career full force.
Beverly D'Angelo Started in Theater
Like many Hollywood stars, D'Angelo acted on the stage before appearing on the big screen. She could have made a career as a theater actor had she wanted to, appearing on Broadway in "Rockabye Hamlet" in 1976.
But the theater was no more than a stepping-stone for her. That same year, she landed her first television role, appearing in the first three episodes of a TV mini-series called "Captains and the Kings."
Her first movie role was in the movie "Annie Hall" in 1977, which became a prelude to appearances in several major movies in the late 1970s.
Most actors stick with film once they "make it" in Hollywood, but Beverly D'Angelo still had a soft spot for theater. She went back to the theater in the mid-1990s with an award-winning performance in the off-Broadway play "Simpatico."
She Also Has a Country Music Association Award Under Her Belt
Her choice to continue exploring multiple passions became a prevailing theme throughout her career.
While she didn't pursue music intentionally after she began pursuing acting in earnest, her role in "Coal Miner's Daughter" earned her not just a Golden Globe nomination, but also a Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year.
'National Lampoon's Vacation' Isn't the Only Series She's Famous For
We cant talk about Beverly D'Angelo without mentioning her role of Ellen Griswold, the levelheaded, yet refreshingly candid housewife in "National Lampoon's Vacation." She played the role in four sequels and a short film from 1985 to 2015, and her character became a model for dozens of other movie moms throughout the '80s and '90s.
"Vacation" wasn't the only series she had a recurring role in, either. From 2005 to 2011, D'Angelo played agent "Babs" Miller, and later had a recurring role on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as a defense attorney.
She also appeared in numerous independent films over the years, including a starring role in the film "Gamers: The Movie," plus main roles in several made-for-TV dramas, like "Sweet Temptation," "Slow Burn" and, most famously, "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Throughout Her Career, Beverly D'Angelo Refused to Conform
Given her initial performance as Patsy Cline in "Coal Miner’s Daughter," many critics expected her to land among the stars, walking a road paved with nominations and awards. This wasn't the case. D'Angelo was never nominated for another Golden Globe after that, nor a single Oscar.
Many actors might have considered that a disappointment, but her lack of awards was somewhat of a choice. She didn't like the idea of being branded, stuck in one particular type of role for her entire career. Rather than leaning into one type of character, she sought out diversity, intrigue and passion, exploring many different types of roles, from dead-serious to comedic.
Her lighthearted, pugnacious performance as Ellen Griswold could be considered low-brow in comparison to her heavier roles, but the movie was a huge box-office hit. So while D'Angelo doesn't have a string of Oscars, she essentially built the prototype for an entire generation of movie moms.
Beverly D'Angelo Once Married Into Royalty
True to her mission of following passion, D’Angelo married an Italian duke named Lorenzo Salviati. During their 15 year marriage, D'Angelo lived like royalty, attending high-end cocktail parties with Europe's elite. Marrying into old money turned down the broiler on any sense of urgency she once had to make it in Hollywood.
Back in L.A., young actors were chasing the riches she already had. While D'Angelo might have landed more noteworthy roles had she retained the hunger of a young, starving actor, her noble lifestyle afforded her the luxury of only taking roles she was genuinely excited about. In some sense, her time in Italy's royal family empowered her natural inclination to resist the typical Hollywood mold.
She Also Dated an Academy Award Winner Who Took His Own Life
Beverly D'Angelo's next relationship was far less charmed than her marriage to Salviati. For a year, she dated Anton Furst, an Academy Award-winning production designer, who took his own life in 1991 shortly after their breakup.
In an interview with The New York Times, she praised him as artist and a person, and expressed, "shock, but not surprise" at the news of his death.
D'Angelo Shares Twins With Al Pacino
Following her heartbreaking relationship with Anton Furst, Beverly D'Angelo's love life fell off the map until the late '90s. It wasn't until 1997 that she fell for none other than Al Pacino, the star of "The Godfather," "Scarface" and countless other movie classics.
During the course of their six-year relationship, the couple welcomed twins conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF): a daughter named Olivia Rose, and a son named Anton James. D'Angelo has never commented on her name choice, but it seems likely that her son's name was a homage to the late Anton Furst, whom D'Angelo still cared deeply for.
D'Angelo and Pacino split in 2003, and parenting twins took up much of D'Angelo's time for the following decade. She did continue acting, however, and her career amped up again once the twins hit their teens.
Everything Beverly D'Angelo Does Comes Down to One Thing: Love
Everything about Beverly D'Angelo's acting career to her family life revolves around love. She had grown up with two parents who were deeply in love with each other, and she aspired to live her own life in much the same way.
Love and passion was the guiding force in her life. D'Angelo isn't the biggest name in Hollywood, but her voice is one of the most genuine. We'd rather have dinner with her than a Kardashian any day.