- Received a permanent spinal injury while filming The Exorcist (1973). In the sequence where she is thrown away from her possessed daughter, a harness jerked her hard away from the bed. She fell on her coccyx and screamed in pain, which was filmed for the movie.
- She wrote to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to protest Liv Ullmann's elimination from Oscar contention in 1974 for her performance in Scener ur ett äktenskap (1973) (aka "Scenes from a Marriage"). AMPAS used a rule under which TV presentations must have appeared in movie theaters in the same year, to prevent Ullmann from being nominated. The result is that Burstyn won the Oscar for her performance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974).
- Burstyn was not able to attend the 1975 Academy Awards Ceremony, thus couldn't accept her Best Actress Oscar for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). Martin Scorsese, the film's director, accepted her Oscar on her behalf.
- Has one grandchild.
- Chosen by People Magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World." [May 2001]
- Born at 4:00 AM CST.
- Wore 20- and 40-pound fat suits and prosthetic necks to play Sara Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream (2000).
- Said in the book "On Women Turning 50" that she did not attend the 1975 Academy Awards, where she won the Best Actress award for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), because she was certain she would win and could not handle the pressure and attention. After attending several later Oscar ceremonies at which she lost, she regretted not being there to accept her award.
- Played her Academy Award nominated character from Same Time, Next Year (1978) on Broadway first and won a Tony for the role in 1975.
- Along with Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel, was named co-president of The Actor's Studio in 2000.
- Doesn't drink alcohol or coffee and practices Yoga.
- Was first female president of The Actor's Equity (1982-1985).
- Served as co-artistic director for The Actor's Studio.
- Turned down the lead role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) because she had an ill husband to take care of.
- Says she is often mistaken for fellow actress Louise Fletcher. People tell her she was great in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) (for which Fletcher won an Oscar). Fletcher reports being told frequently that she did a wonderful job in one of Burstyn's roles.
- Received the National Board of Review's Career Achievement Award in December 2000 at Tavern on the Green.
- Has one adopted son, Jefferson, and a granddaughter, Emily.
- Practices the mystical Islamic religion Sufism.
- Is an ordained minister.
- Hosted "Saturday Night Live" (1975) in 1980.
- Is a Vegetarian.
- Played her Academy Award nominated character from Same Time, Next Year (1978) on Broadway first and won a Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for the role in 1975.
- Member of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981
- Co-head of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival 1988
- Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1977
- Is Irish American.
- The character of Jean Harris seems to be a favorite for Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn was Emmy-nominated for the lead role as Jean Harris in the 1981 TV-movie, "The People vs. Jean Harris", and in 2006, she was nominated as a supporting character (as an ex-lover of Jean Harris's lover) in the cable-movie based on the Harris case in "Mrs. Harris" Burstyn is perhaps the first actress to be nominated in a performance that is less than 1-minute long. She is vying for the Emmy with fellow co-star and Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman.
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