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Shirley Maclaine

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Known as the girl with big red curls and weak ankles, Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty on April 24, 1934, to Virginia native Ira Owens Beaty and his wife, Kathlyn. Ira and Kathlyn gave up their dreams to raise their family. Before Shirley was three years old, her brother and rival Warren Beatty was born on March 30 or 31, 1937. Shirley was the tallest in her ballet classes at the Washington School of Ballet. She had an excellent batting average in baseball but, as she discovered, it wasn’t a good thing for a girl to do, so she tossed aside her cleats for a pair of pom-poms and joined the cheerleading squad in her high school, Washington-Lee. As soon as she graduated she packed her bags and headed for New York. While auditioning for Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Me and Juliet”, she had a problem with the producer, who kept mispronouncing her name. He asked, “Okay, Beaty. Do you have another name, kid?” She then changed her name from Shirley MacLean Beaty to Shirley MacLaine. She later had a role in “The Pajama Game”. With her high-octane performance, she won a part and the role as an understudy to Carol Haney. Unfortunately, Haney was known for having never missed a performance in her life. A few months into the run, Shirley was going to ditch the show for the lead role in “Can-Can”. She left for the theatre after being 15 minutes late because the train broke down. She then heard that Haney had broken her ankle and she was to go on in her place.

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