Date of Birth: December 15, 1952
The first woman to win a Tony Award for directing a Broadway musical, Julie Taymor was born in Newton, Massachusetts. She showed an interest in theater at an early age, staging shows with her sister in their backyard. By the time she was 10, she joined the Boston Children's Theater Company and then at 16, went to study in Paris at L'Ecole de Mime with Jacques Lecoq.
At Oberlin College in Ohio, Taymor earned a degree in folklore and mythology. She joined an Ohio theater company and studied traditional Indonesia masked dance and shadow puppetry one summer at the American Society for East Arts in Seattle.
Graduating in 1974, she went to Japan to study the roots of traditional Japanse puppetry, then lived in Indonesia for five years, where she founded Theater Loh and had the opportunity to put on original productions.
Back in the States, Taymor began a lifelong collaborate with composer Elliot Goldenthal, whom she wound up marrying. Her greatest claim to fame came with the Broadway adaption of the animated film, The Lion King. Taymor won two Tony Awards for Best Director (Musical) and Best Costume Designer and was nominated for Best Original Musical Score.
She began directing for the screen in 1992 with the TV movie Fool's Fire, based on a story of Edgar Allan Poe. Next was a musical version of Oedipus Rex (1993), also for TV, based on the play by Sophocles. Taymore, who'd designed the mask and body sculptures, shared an Emmy with the costume designer.
Her major motion picture directing debut was a film version of Shakespeare's play Titus Andronicus: Titus (1999), starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. But it was for Frida (2002) that Taymor received her first Oscar nomination—for Best Music, Original Song, shared with her husband, who won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his original score. The film also won numerous awards from film societies and festivals around the world.
She completed her third feature film, Across the Universe (2007), starring Evan Rachel Wood, then did adaptations of two more Shakespeare plays: The Tempest (2010) starring Helen Mirren as Prospera and a live theatrical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (2012).
After a lengthy break, Taymore returned to the big screen with the biographical drama The Glorias (2020), which tells the story of the life of feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore share the role of the central character of the work at different ages in her life.