She experienced a sudden rise to stardom, a dizzying crash into obscurity, and a spectacular return to prominence. And now Cybill Shepherd is poised to celebrate a major milestone.
Happy Birthday, Cybill Shepherd!
And that’s because she was born on February 18, 1950, in Memphis, Tennessee, which means that this uber-talented performer is turning 71 years old today! Shepherd, whose unique first name was inspired by her grandfather, Cy, and her father, Bill, began competing in beauty pageants during her youth which eventually led to a successful career as a model.
In 1970, film director Peter Bogdanovich became so enraptured by an issue of Glamour magazine featuring Shepherd on its cover that he sought her out and offered her the opportunity to play Jacy Farrow in his film, The Last Picture Show.
Shepherd wound up being nominated for a special Golden Globe award for her work, in addition to reams of publicity and critical acclaim. Her sophomore effort, The Heartbreak Kid, proved to be another hit, and her status as a major motion picture star seemed all but cemented.
However, subsequent collaborations with Bogdanovich – who had become both her lover and her acting mentor – proved disastrous. His 1974 adaptation of Henry James’s Daisy Miller and as well as 1976’s At Long Last Love were both box office disappointments, and though Shepherd momentarily rebounded with a decent part in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) – the production having spent months searching for a “Cybill Shepherd type” – a series of flops soon followed.
In response to her waxen star power, Shepherd turned to Orson Wells, who had become a dear friend, and asked for his advice. He encouraged her to leave New York, shun Los Angeles, and concentrate on honing her stagecraft. In response, Shepherd relocated to Memphis to work in regional theatre.
In 1982, Shepherd returned to New York and worked alongside James MacArthur in a touring production of Jean Kerr’s Lunch Hour. One year later, she landed a starring part in the primetime serial The Yellow Rose. Upon that program’s cancellation, Shepherd landed her career-defining role: bankrupt, has-been model turned private investigator Maddie Hayes on Moonlighting.
The critically lauded dramedy, which lasted for five seasons and netted Shepherd two Golden Globe Awards, featured a then relatively unknown Bruce Willis. His wily, uncouth character, David Addison, was paired opposite Shepherd’s mercurial Maddie resulting in the establishment of one of primetime TV’s most popular supercouples.
Shepherd’s subsequent credits include the films Chance Are (1989), Texasville (1990), the sequel to The Last Picture Show, Woody Allen’s Alice (1990), and Eugene Levy’s Once Upon Crime (1992).
Between 1995 and 1998, Shepherd headlined Cybill, a semi-autobiographical sitcom that followed the career highs and lows of actress Cybill Sheridan, as well as the off-screen exploits she engaged in with her heavy-drinking, drug-abusing gal-pal Marianne (Christine Baranski).
Her other roles include domestic doyenne Martha Stewart in the made-for-TV movies: Martha Inc: The Story of Martha Stewart (2003), and Maratha: Behind Bars (2005), as well as Phyllis Krill in The L Word (2007-2009) and Madeline Spencer in Psych (2008-2013).
Shepherd has been married and divorced on two occasions. She shares a daughter, former The Young and the Restless actress Clementine Ford (born June 29, 1979), with first husband David Ford, and twins Cyrus Zachariah and Molly Ariel with second husband Bruce Oppenheim. Entertainment Hub would like to wish Cybill Shepherd a very happy birthday.