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Shelley Duvall's Tragic Life after 'The Shining,' Including Serious Mental Health Issues

Edduin Carvajal
Mar 17, 2021
10:30 A.M.

Actress Shelley Duvall, best known for portraying Wendy in “The Shining,” had a very prolific career in the 90s. Now, she’s struggling with mental health issues and looks like a completely different person.


Born in July 1949, Shelley Duvall is a former actress and producer who shot to fame for her outstanding performances in “3 Women” and “The Shining” and had a prolific career in the 80s and 90s.

Her career could have been very different had she accepted a role in an adult film when she was only 17 years old. Duvall explained that, while shopping at a drug store, a person made the unusual offer, which she turned down.

Shelley Duvall on March 3, 1994 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Duvall on March 3, 1994 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images



A few years later, when she was a 20-year-old student at South Texas Junior College, three men went to a party she and her then-boyfriend hosted.

They happened to be three associates of “Brewster McCloud” director Robert Altman, and they asked Duvall if she’d like to be part of a movie. Initially, she thought it was another adult film.

Dr. Phil treated Duvall as a case study.

Shelley Duvall in Los Angeles, California circa 1990 | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Duvall in Los Angeles, California circa 1990 | Photo: Getty Images


However, they were actually looking for a woman to portray the Astrodome tour guide. Duvall said no, but they contacted her parents’ house and, after a while, they all became friends. She added:

“I said, ‘I’m not an actress.’ They said, ‘Yes, you are.’ Finally, I said, ‘All right, if you think I’m an actress I guess I am.’”



After “Brewster McCloud,” Duvall landed parts in “Nashville,” “3 Women,” and “Annie Hall.” 1980 was a very important year in her life as she was cast as Wendy in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and Olive Oyl in Altman’s “Popeye.”

Unfortunately, working on “The Shining” was nothing short of excruciating for Duvall. Jack Nicholson, who starred alongside Duvall in the film, revealed that Kubrick was a “different actor” with Duvall.

According to Nicholson, the actress was frequently antagonized by the late director, who supposedly made her shoot the now-iconic baseball-bat scene 127 times.


Duvall, who once labeled working with Kubrick as “almost unbearable,” was under so much stress that she allegedly showed the director clumps of hair that fell out during the filming process.

To make matters worse, her performance at the time was overlooked by many. She was even nominated for a Raspberry Award for Worst Actress! In 2000, she said for the book “The Complete Kubrick:”

“I had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week. I was there a year and a month.”



After working as an actress and producer for about three decades, Shelley Duvall walked away from Hollywood. In November 2016, however, she made headlines after an interview with Dr. Phil.

Their conversation was labeled by many, including Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Vivian, as “exploitative” as Duvall, who looked unrecognizable, admitted she had been struggling with mental health issues.

The former actress asked for help and said she was dealing with many physical ailments. She also claimed to be persecuted by an unidentified person, adding that she was afraid someone would harm her for talking to Dr. Phil.


One of the things that made people angry about the interview was that Dr. Phil treated Duvall as a case study, even writing a transcript of her comments to show her stream of consciousness–style speaking patterns.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil persuaded Duvall to seek psychiatric treatment. The problem was that, while she accepted, she had to travel to Southern California when they could have found support for her in Texas, where she lived at the time.

Earlier this year, Shelley Duvall admitted that she found out the kind of person Dr. Phil was “the hard way.” Now, the former actress lives in Texas with her long-time partner Dan Gilroy.

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