22/06/1949 (70 years old) Summit, New Jersey, United States
Routinely hailed as the greatest actress of her generation, Streep earned that accolade with her amazing ability to transform herself physically, vocally and emotionally into seemingly any character. Equally adept at drama and comedy, comfortable on stage and screen, able to embody contemporary and classical roles, and even a formidable singer (she showed off her vocal chops in Death Becomes Her, Postcards from the Edge, Mamma Mia), Streep has earned a record number of Academy Award acting nods and has won three Oscars, a pair of Emmys, eight Golden Globes, not to mention a host of other honors during her lauded career. After earning an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, she made her mark in New York theater, picking up a 1976 Tony nomination for her turn in a revival of two Tennessee Williams one-acts, A Memory of Two Mondays/27 Wagons Full of Cotton. Two years later, she proved she could command both the big and small screens, winning her first Emmy for her riveting turn as a Catholic married to a Jew in Holocaust, and picking up her first Oscar nomination for her devastating work in The Deer Hunter. In 1979, she took home her first Academy Award as a mom trying to find herself in the divorce drama Kramer vs. Kramer and she snagged her second statuette as the tormented title character in 1982's Sophie Choice. Impossible to pigeonhole, Streep spent the next three decades stretching herself and her remarkable talents, portraying characters of all ethnic backgrounds (a reviled Australian mom in A Cry in the Dark, a lovesick Danish noblewoman in Out of Africa, an Irish spinster in Dancing at Lughnasa, an Italian immigrant in love in The Bridges of Madison County); all temperaments (comic turns as callous women in Death Becomes Her and The Devil Wears Prada, a mom-cum-action hero in The River Wild); different sexual orientations (a literary lesbian in The Hours); and even both genders (a male rabbi, one of a quartet of characters that earned her a 2004 Emmy Award for her multitasking in the miniseries Angels in America). For a star of her caliber, she also managed to stay out of the tabloids. Still engaged to her Deer Hunter costar John Cazale when he died of cancer in 1978, she married sculptor Don Gummer soon after and had a son and three daughters (one of whom is up-and-coming actress Mamie Gummer) and is beloved by the Hollywood community.