Who is Gena Rowlands?
Virginia Cathryn ‘Gena’ Rowlands was born in Cambria, Wisconsin USA, on 19 June 1930 – her zodiac sign is Cancer, and she holds American nationality. She’s a retired actress with more than 100 credits to her name, while she’s perhaps known best for her portrayal of the lead character Allie Calhoun in the 2004 romantic movie “The Notebook”, directed by Nick Cassavetes, and which also starred James Garner and Rachel McAdams. It follows a poor man who has fallen in love with a rich woman, but they’ve been separated because of social differences; the movie won 12 of the 22 awards for which it was nominated.
Early life and education
Gena was raised in Cambria alongside her brother David Rowlands, by their father Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands who was a state legislator and banker, and their mother Mary Allen (nee Neal) who was a housewife; Edwin was a member of the Wisconsin Progressive Party.
The family moved to Washington, D. C. when Gena was nine years old, because Edwin began working at the United States Department of Agriculture, then moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin three years later, when he was appointed branch manager of the Office of Price Administration.
Gena became interested in acting while attending a local high school, and appeared in various plays performed at the school, however, her parents urged her to focus on her education, and Gena thus left acting aside.
Upon matriculating in 1948, she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, at which she was a member of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma; Gena eventually quit, and moved to New York City to enroll at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Roles in TV series
Gena made her debut TV series appearance in the 1954 episode “This Man Is Death” of the crime mystery “Top Secret”, and the remainder of the ‘50s saw her appear in an episode of various series, such as the drama “Robert Montgomery Presents”, the drama “Ponds Theater”, and the documentary drama “Armstrong Circle Theatre”.
In 1961 and 1962, she played Teddy Carella in four episodes of the crime drama “87th Precinct”, created by Evan Hunter, and which starred Robert Lansing, Ron Harper and Gregory Walcott. It follows the lives of several Manhattan police officers and their families.
A couple of Gena’s most notable TV performances in the remainder of the ‘60s and the ‘70s were perhaps in the action crime adventure “Burke’s Law”, the romantic drama “Peyton Place” and the mystery crime drama “Columbo”.
Gena had only a single TV series role in the ‘80s: she played Witch in the 1983 episode “Rapunzel” of the family adventure comedy “Faerie Tale Theatre”; it starred Shelley Duvall, John Achorn and Patrick DeSantis, and each episode is an adaptation of a classic fairy tale. The series aired from 1982 to 1987, and won 12 of the 40 awards for which it was nominated.
Gena had only three other TV series roles prior to her retirement – she played Erika Hellman in the 2006 episode “Provenance” of the mystery crime drama “Numb3rs”, the 2009 episode “Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door” of the crime comedy drama “Monk”, and the 2010 episode “Mother’s Day” of the mystery crime drama “NCIS”.
Roles in movies
Gena made her debut film appearance in the 1958 comedy “The High Cost of Loving”, and then gained recognition in 1962, when cast to play Jerry Bondi, one of the main characters in the 1962 western drama “Lonely Are the Brave”, directed by David Miller, and which also starred Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau. It follows a cowboy who’s got himself locked up in prison on purpose, so that he could escape together with his old friend; the movie won one of the four awards for which it was nominated.
A couple of Gena’s most notable performances in the remainder of the ‘60s and the ‘70s were perhaps in the 1967 mystery crime drama “Tony Rome”, the 1974 romantic drama “A Woman Under the Influence”, and the 1977 drama “Opening Night”.
What marked the ‘80s for her was probably her portrayal of the lead character Marion in the hit 1988 drama “Another Woman”, written and directed by Woody Allen, and which also starred Mia Farrow and Ian Holm. It follows a woman who’s trying to write another book, and believes that moving next door to a psychiatrist’s office will help her; the movie won one of the four awards for which it was nominated.
Gena hasn’t had many movie roles since then – her three most recent appearances have been in 2014 in the romantic science fiction drama “Parts Per Billion” and the comedy drama “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks”, and finally the 2017 short comedy “Unfortunate Circumstances”.
Gena sang the songs “How Long Has This Been Going On” and “My Romance” in the 1995 drama movie “The Neon Bible”.
She provided archival photographs for the 2000 documentary movie “A Constant Forge”.
Gena wrote the segment “Quartier Latin” of the 2006 romantic comedy movie “Paris, Je t’aime”.
She has received special thanks for four movies, including “He Died with a Felafel in His Hand” (2001), “Applause” (2009) and “A Fuller Life” (2013).
Gena has made a guest appearance in various talk-shows, most recently in “The Marilyn Denis Show”, “Academy Originals: What Movies Mean to Me”, and “E! Live from the Red Carpet”.
Awards and nominations
Gena has won 32 of the 57 awards for which she’s been nominated, including two Oscar nominations: the first in 1975, for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in “A Woman Under the Influence”, and the second in 1981, for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Gloria”.
She was rewarded with a 2016 Oscar – Honorary Award.
Love life and relationships
Gena’s been a private woman since the launch of her acting career, and has shared only a little about her love life, however, it’s still widely known that she’s married twice. She met her first husband, the late Greek-American actor and director John Nicholas Cassavetes while they were both studying acting at the American Academy at Carnegie Hall; the two exchanged vows on 9 April 1954, in a private ceremony attended by only the closest of their friends and family members.
Gena gave birth to their three children: Nick, Zoe and Alexandra, all three of whom are today actors and film directors. Gena and John’s marriage ended when he passed away on 3 February 1989, from cirrhosis of the liver.
She married her second husband Robert Forrest in 2012; he’s an American retired businessman.
As of June 2022, Gena’s married to her second husband Robert Forrest, and has three children with her late first husband John Cassavetes.
Hobbies and interesting facts
While growing up, Gena was a huge fan of American actress Ruth Elizabeth ‘Bette’ Davis, and she portrayed her daughter in the 1979 drama movie “Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter”.
When she was younger, her main hobby was travelling, and her acting career took her all around the world; Gena has been to nearly all of the US states, as well as to various European, Asian and African countries, while her dream travel destination is Paris, France.
She’s a philanthropist, and has donated money to both various charity organizations and animal shelters; she’s a huge lover of animals, with elephants and horses being her favorites.
Gena’s favorite season is summer, as she enjoys sun tanning at the beach; she also likes autumn, mostly because of its changing colors.
She has her own favorite actors and actresses, some of whom are Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, while a couple of her favorite films include “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”, “Scent of a Woman” and “The Bridges of Madison County”.
Age, height and net worth
Gena’s age is 92. She has long blonde hair and blue eyes, her height is 5ft 6ins (1.68m) and she weighs around 130lbs (60kgs).
As of June 2022, Gena’s net worth is estimated at more than $1.5 million.