Actress. Born Kathleen Doyle on June 28, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee. Bates graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in theater, and after stints as a cashier at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and a singing waitress in a Catskill resort, she distinguished herself in 1983’s ‘Night Mother, for which she earned a Tony nomination; as Lenny McGrath in Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Crimes of the Heart, and as the abused waitress Frankie in Terence McNally’s Off-Broadway play Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune — a part which was written especially for Bates and won her a prestigious Obie award.
Until the 1990s, Bates had only minor parts in TV series such as Love Boat (her television debut), All My Children, St. Elsewhere, and China Beach, as well as lackluster films like Taking Off (1971), Straight Time (1978) and Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988). But with the critical and popular success of Misery, Bates’ film career hit an upswing. She won a Best Actress Oscar for her role opposite James Caan in Misery, followed by a Golden Globe for her role as the comically emancipated housewife in Fried Green Tomatoes (1992). She had prominent roles in Dolores Claiborne (1994), Diabolique (1996), Titanic (1997), The Waterboy (1998), and Primary Colors (1998) for which she received another Oscar nomination.
Her other projects include Bruno (2000), costarring Shirley MacLaine (who also directed) and Gary Sinise, Love Liza, and About Schmidt. She has directed episodes of the hit TV dramas Homicide, NYPD Blue, and Oz. She also directed A&E’s Dash and Lilly (1999), starring Sam Shepard, Judy Davis, and Bebe Neuwirth.