Warren Beatty's Life in Photos

The Hollywood legend and icon turns 85 on March 30

01 of 25

Warren Beatty Grows Up in Virginia

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Hulton Archive/Getty

Warren Beatty was born on March 30, 1937, in Richmond, Virginia, the son of two educators and the younger brother of Shirley MacLaine. Charming from the start, Beatty was a star football player at his Arlington high school and president of his high school class.

02 of 25

Warren Beatty Follows His Heart

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Evening Standard/Getty

Beatty enrolled at Northwestern University in 1955 and dropped out after a year to study acting in New York City, where his older sister's star was rising, per Biography.com. He bounced between TV appearances while working odd jobs, and made his Broadway debut in 1959 with A Loss of Roses.

According to the outlet, the play received "underwhelming reviews" but earned him a Tony nomination and put him on the map.

03 of 25

Warren Beatty Courts Joan Collins

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Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives

The actor coupled up with Joan Collins, his first famous girlfriend, in 1959. The two were engaged for several years before calling it off as his fame grew (and his reputation as a Casanova began to grow).

04 of 25

Warren Beatty's Big Break

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty

In 1961, at age 23, Beatty hit it big with his movie debut Splendor in the Grass, opposite Natalie Wood. The romantic drama's portrayal of teen sexuality was bold for the times, and an instant hit.

"After that movie I was like Leonardo DiCaprio is now. It took me ages to even think of myself as an actor," Beatty told The Guardian in 1999 of his sudden heartthrob status. "For years after that I would see 'actor' on my passport and think 'God, this is odd.' "

05 of 25

Warren Beatty Dates Natalie Wood

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Sparks flew offscreen between the costars, with Beatty and Wood dating in the early 1960s, following her divorce from Robert Wagner.

Beatty told The Guardian he wasn't surprised his meteoric fame went to his head: "Anybody who becomes a movie star when they're 22 or whatever I was, is going to be eccentric. It's an eccentric situation. You become rich and famous out of proportion to that which is anticipated. Quite a candy store there."

06 of 25

Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine's Close Relationship

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Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty. Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

The young actor was quickly cast in a number of films (The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, 1961; All Fall Down, 1962; Lilith, 1964; Mickey One, 1965; Promise Her Anything, 1966; Kaleidoscope, 1966) after his big break, and turned to his sister for support. Here, the siblings attend a movie premiere in 1966 in Los Angeles.

"I was lucky to grow up with a feminist mother and a feminist sister. We're very close," he previously told PEOPLE of his relationship with MacLaine.

07 of 25

Warren Beatty Stars in Bonnie and Clyde

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At age 29, Beatty became a producing force with the violent, glamorous gangster saga Bonnie and Clyde, released in 1967. Beatty oversaw production with director Arthur Penn, and acted opposite Faye Dunaway as infamous bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.

Both a critical and commercial success, the movie became a landmark picture and sent its stars into a new echelon of fame.

08 of 25

Bonnie and Clyde Is a Smash Success

Warren Beatty Bonnie and Clyde
Warren Beatty in 'Bonnie and Clyde'. Henry Gris/FPG/Getty

Bonnie and Clyde went on to nab 10 Academy Award nominations at the 1968 ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Director (Penn), Best Actor (Beatty), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman), Best Original Screenplay and Best Costume Design. The film won for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Best Cinematography.

Reflecting on why he was inspired to produce Bonnie and Clyde, Beatty, a famed perfectionist, told PEOPLE in 2016 that he "wanted to be in control."

Does he think it started the "new Hollywood" revolution in filmmaking? "That's an exaggeration," Beatty told PEOPLE with a smile, "but I like to hear it said."

09 of 25

Warren Beatty's Relationship with Julie Christie

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Warner Brothers/Getty

The star became more selective about his roles in the '70s. He appeared in The Only Game in Town (1970), Dollars (1971) and McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), which cast him alongside Julie Christie. The actors fell for each other on set, and dated for seven years.

10 of 25

Warren Beatty Campaigns for George McGovern

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The actor got political and publicly threw his support behind Sen. George McGovern when he ran for president on the Democratic ticket in 1972.

Organizing a series of concerts with headliners including Barbra Streisand, Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, Beatty rallied the power of Hollywood for his candidate.

11 of 25

Warren Beatty in Shampoo

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty

After acting in a few more movies (The Parallax View, 1974; The Fortune, 1975), Beatty took greater creative control with Shampoo, which he wrote, produced and starred in, per Biography.com. Playing a philandering hairdresser, Beatty's character struggled to juggle multiple lovers – which some perceived to as semi-autobiographical.

The comedy was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay, at the 1976 ceremony.

12 of 25

Warren Beatty in Heaven Can Wait

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Beatty got even busier behind the camera with Heaven Can Wait in 1978, which he wrote, directed, produced and acted in (opposite Christie), per IMDb. The film, which followed a young man's journey to return to Earth after accidentally being transported to heaven by his guardian angel, was celebrated by critics and audiences alike. The movie was nominated for nine Oscars – including four nods for Beatty (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay).

The nominations made Beatty only the second person in cinematic history to be nominated in all those categories for one film, following Orson Welles' Citizen Kane in 1942.

13 of 25

Warren Beatty in Reds

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The actor-director took on another major motion picture event with Reds in 1981, an epic about the American Communist movement inspired by a true story. Beatty played journalist John Reed, and cast his real-life girlfriend Diane Keaton as his onscreen love interest.

The drama was nominated for a whopping 12 Oscars at the 1982 Academy Awards. The Hollywood legend was again nominated for four prestigious prizes – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay – becoming the only person to do so twice.

14 of 25

Warren Beatty Wins an Oscar

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

He did it! Beatty played it cool for the cameras after winning Best Director for Reds at the 54th Academy Awards.

15 of 25

Warren Beatty Makes More Movies

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courtesy Everett Collection

Beatty took a five-year break from acting, returning with 1987's Ishtar with Dustin Hoffman – which flopped. After another respite from the silver screen, he came back stronger with Dick Tracy in 1990. Throwing himself into the project behind the camera as producer and director, he starred as the comic book detective of the same name.

The movie also connected him with Madonna, who was cast as the sultry lounge singer Breathless Mahoney. The two briefly dated offscreen, though the relationship didn't endure beyond the Dick Tracy premiere.

16 of 25

Warren Beatty Meets Annette Bening

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The famous bachelor crossed paths with Annette Bening after casting her as his love interest in Bugsy, the 1991 crime drama which saw him star as mobster Bugsy Siegel.

"He was incredibly intelligent," Bening recently told PEOPLE of their first meeting. "I remember thinking this guy is so smart and so sharp and funny … and he was charming for sure."

Meanwhile, Beatty came back from their first lunch together and told Bugsy director Barry Levinson: "I'm going to marry her."

17 of 25

Warren Beatty and Annette Bening Marry

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Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

And he was right! The actors tied in the knot in 1992, and went on to welcome four children together: Stephen, 30, an artist and writer, Ben, 27, an actor, Isabel, 25, a writer and film student, and Ella, 21, an acting student.

18 of 25

Warren Beatty in Bulworth and Beyond

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20th Century-Fox/Getty

Beatty brought the heat onscreen with his wife in Love Affair (1994), but struck greater success with the political satire Bulworth (pictured here with Halle Berry). Doubling down in the multi-hyphenate role of director, producer and screenwriter, the Oscar winner also cast himself in front of the camera as a disillusioned senator who starts speaking his mind.

The movie was nominated for the Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards in 1999.

Though Beatty has long been involved in the Democratic party as a political activist, he later explained to PEOPLE why he'd never run for office.

"I will confess to having been flattered at being kicked around as a possibility, but I had seen so many close friends go through such agonies," he said in 2016. "Gary Hart, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, look what happened to Bobby and Jack [Kennedy]! I knew all of them."

19 of 25

Warren Beatty Is Honored by the Academy

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In 1999, Beatty received the highest honor from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Irving G. Thalberg Award is awarded periodically to "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production," per the Academy, and the actor-director's pal (and Reds costar) Jack Nicholson presented him the honor.

Lighthearted as ever, Beatty joked in his acceptance speech, "Thank you. You know, although some might say it's a little soon to be giving this thing to a guy in his early forties…"

The star's next movie would be Town & Country in 2001, which fizzled at the box office. Beatty would not act in or direct another film for 15 years after.

20 of 25

Warren Beatty and Family Walk the Red Carpet

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Say cheese! Beatty was joined by Bening and their four kids at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004, where the actor-director received the prestigious prize.

21 of 25

Warren Beatty Returns to the Silver Screen

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Courtesy Everett Collection

The Hollywood icon went back to his craft with Rules Don't Apply in 2016, which he cowrote, produced and starred in. The comedic 1950s love story followed two naive show-business newcomers (Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich) swept up in the controlling web of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty).

Beatty, a notorious perfectionist, had been flirting with the story for 40 years, and reportedly demanded the best from his cast and crew.

"He also would direct in character," Ehrenreich told The New York Times in one amusing anecdote. "He would give you notes as Howard Hughes."

22 of 25

Warren Beatty Reunites with Faye Dunaway

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Kevin Winter/Getty

50 years after Bonnie and Clyde made cinematic history, its two stars reunited at the 89th Academy Awards to present the Best Picture category. However, the anniversary was arguably overshadowed by an infamous snafu at the 2017 ceremony.

After being handed the wrong envelope, Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner – before the Oscar was redirected to the rightful winner, Moonlight.

23 of 25

Warren Beatty Receives a Lifetime Achievement Award

Warren Beatty speaks onstage during American Film Institute's 45th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to Diane Keaton
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Beatty accepted an honor of his own in 2008, receiving the lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute.

"Warren Beatty helped reshape Hollywood when it was time for a change," the AFI said in a tribute. "With his restless energy, he stretched the definition of actor to become one of the first multi-hyphenates: a magnetic movie star, a brilliant producer, a driven director and a writer who aspires to reflect the times in which we live."

24 of 25

Beatty and Dunaway Present the Oscar – Again!

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Second time's the charm, right? One year after the Moonlight mix-up, Beatty and Dunaway came out again onstage to present Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards. The Bonnie and Clyde costars were greeted with applause, and cracked jokes about bungling the bit the year before.

"It's so nice seeing you again," Beatty said.

"Presenting is lovelier the second time around," Dunaway agreed.

Beatty went on to announce The Shape of Water as the winner without issue.

25 of 25

Warren Beatty Looks Back

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Amy Sussman/Getty

Beatty and Bening had a date night at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala at The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles in September 2021.

Looking back on all he accomplished, Beatty previously told PEOPLE, "People always ask why I don't work more. The truth is, it's because I've also had a life.

"The biggest thing that's ever happened to me is my children and Annette," Beatty continued. "That's bigger than fame, and it came not a moment too soon."

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