Geena Davis was born Virginia Elizabeth Davis in Wareham, Massachusetts (near Cape Cod), the daughter of William Davis, a civil engineer, and Lucille, a teacher's assistant. After graduating from Boston University, Davis signed with the Zoli modelling agency in New York, armed with an agenda to expand her repertoire to include acting.
Before embarking on a modeling trip to Paris, she auditioned for a small role in the film Tootsie and in France, received a telegram telling her she had won the part. Essentially her role was a visual joke, but she carried it off with poise.
She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. Television came first: a role in the cult series Buffalo Bill and a stint on Family Ties. The following year, she starred in her own series, Sara.
Success in television was short-lived. At six feet tall, Davis seemed custom-made for the more expansive panorama of a movie screen. She landed a small role in the Chevy Chase vehicle Fletch, but it was her dramatic turn in David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly that set her on the road to stardom. The film provided her with the opportunity to cut her acting teeth, and it led to a short marriage to the fly himself, Jeff Goldblum.
With 1988's Beetlejuice, Geena proved that she could dart effortlessly between drama and comedy. That same year, she grabbed the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as a dog trainer in The Accidental Tourist, a part for which she had lobbied strenuously. Although she said at the time that Goldblum 'wasn't jealous for a second, only totally happy for me,' some attribute the break-up of their marriage to Geena's Academy Award.
Geena wasn't content to settle for the comfortable love-interest niche the film industry reserves for its top female stars. She earned another Oscar nomination as Thelma in Ridley Scott's Thelma and Louise, an assignment that made Geena the envy of women everywhere when her character bedded a startlingly sexy (and unknown at the time) actor named Brad Pitt. Leads in Penny Marshall's A League of Their Own and Angie followed.
More recently, Geena has had quite a bit of success on the small screen. She began the millennium with her own self-titled show, The Geena Davis Show, which enjoyed 22 episodes from 2000 to 2001. From 2005 to 2006 she played President Mackenzie Allen on the ABC drama series Commander in Chief.
In 2012, she played Dr. Agnetta Lindquist in the mini-series Coma, then Angela Rance in 10 episodes of the Fox horror series The Exorcist, based on the hit movie of the same name. From 2014 to 2018, she had the plum role of Dr. Nicole Herman on the hit medical series, Grey's Anatomy, and in 2019, played Sandy Devereaux St. Clair on the third season of the hit Netflix series GLOW, about female wrestlers.
Geena returned to movies with a role in the action crime drama Ava (2020), starring Jessica Chastain in the title role. Unfortunately, the film, which also stars Colin Farrell and John Malkovich, went straight to Digital/VOD due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Geena's 1993 marriage to action-blockbuster director Renny Harlin (Die Hard II, Cliffhanger) marked the beginning of a romantic-professional collaboration many thought was destined to end after their Cutthroat Island tanked at the box office in 1995. Davis reinvented herself as a female action star for Harlin's 1996 offering, The Long Kiss Goodnight, which garnered markedly better press and box-office receipts. Davis and Harlin split amicably in 1997, expressing intentions to remain friends and business partners.
Her fourth marriage, to Dr. Reza Jarrahy, has produced three children -- a daughter and twin sons. In 2006, Davis won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the President of the United States in the TV series Commander In Chief.
In addition to acting, Davis also speaks fluent Swedish, is a talented cartoonist, small-time inventor and accomplished musician, able to play the drums, flute, organ and piano.
Stuart Little 2 (2002)
Stuart Little (1999)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Cutthroat Island (1995)
A League of Their Own (1992)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Quick Change (1990)
Earth Girls Are Easy (1989)
The Accidental Tourist (1988)
The Fly (1986)
Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)