Date of Birth: October 12, 1943
Although she's been designated a bonafide "scream queen" for her work in various horror franchises, you may not recognize Lin Shaye simply by her name. But you may recognize the veteran actress as Cameron Diaz’s very orange, dog-loving neighbor in There's Something About Mary (1998) or as the determined demonologist with a knack for seances in Insidious (2011).
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Linda Shaye is the second child of Dorothy, a homemaker, and Max Mendel Shaye, a supermarket owner and painter. Her elder brother is New Line Cinema founder and CEO Robert Shaye, better known as Bob Shaye. Both children were raised in a strict Jewish household.
Lin studied acting at the University of Michigan, and eventually moved to New York City where she earned a Master's in acting at the University of Columbia. During her time in New York, she appeared in several Off-Broadway productions. In 1975, she made her feature film debut in the romantic drama Hester Street.
Two years later, Lin moved to Los Angeles, where she began landing more television and movie roles, such as Sandra in the TV movie Sex and the Married Woman (1977), and Amy in the drama A Secret Space (1977). Throughout the rest of the decade and into the next, the actress earned small roles in various movies and television series. Mainstream success eluded her until she made an appearance as a doomed high school teacher in 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, marking the beginning of her career as a scream queen. Her brother Bob Shaye helped her get the role, and in an interview with USA Today in 2015, she said, "I'm forever grateful to my big brother, who really started my horror career."
Many more freaky flicks were to follow, with Lin starring in Critters (1986), My Demon Lover (1987), The Hidden (1987), and Critters 2 (1988). The early part of the next decade allowed Lin to stray from horror to appear in the romantic comedies Book of Love (1990) and Three of Hearts (1993), the dramas Pump Up the Volume (1990) and The Temp (1993), and the comedies Roadside Prophets (1992) and Loaded Weapon 1 (1993).
In 1994, Lin was cast as Mrs. Neugeboren in the Farrelly Brothers' comedy Dumb & Dumber (1994) — a role that would forever mark her place in comedy history. She followed up this hilarious act with high-profile projects such as Kingpin (1996) starring Woody Harrelson and Last Man Standing (1996) starring Bruce Willis. After parts in some television movies and series, Lin earned another role that would change her life — Magda in the next Bobby and Peter Farrelly project, There's Something About Mary (1998). As the wacky (and tacky) neighbor of Cameron Diaz's Mary, Lin had to sit for four hours every morning in order to achieve her character's signature sun-burned look, a process she said she "loved every minute of."
In the years following her breakout role in There's Something About Mary, Lin continued working steadily in films such as Detroit Rock City (1999), Me, Myself & Irene (2000), Contagion (2002), Boat Trip (2002), Stuck On You (2003), A Cinderella Story (2004), Snakes on a Plane (2006), Asylum (2008) and My Sister's Keeper (2009).
Despite landing loads of work and continuing her frightful film streak, it wasn't until 2011 that Lin would reach the pinnacle of her horror career. In the massively popular Insidious, the actress stepped into the role of renowned demonologist Elise Rainier, who is tasked with helping a family return their comatose child from an evil spirit realm. According to Lin, the process of landing the role wasn't all smooth sailing, particularly when she first read the movie's script. "I was so upset, I took it downstairs and locked it in a closet. I didn't want that thing by my head when I went to sleep," she recalled to US Today. Lin would go on to appear in the next two installments of the franchise, and reprises her role again in 2018's Insidious: The Last Key.
Living up to her moniker, Lin more recently appeared in the horror flick Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) alongside Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, and newcomers Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson. She also landed a role in the adventure comedy Get the Money (2016) starring Danny Trejo and Casper Van Dien.
More recently, she starred in The Grudge (2019), a twisted new take on 2002 Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge.
Lin was first married to Marshall Rubinoff, until his death in 1968. In 1988, she married actor Clayton Landey, with whom she has a son, Lee J. Landey, born in 1989. The couple divorced in 2003.
Insidious: Chapter 4 (2017)
Re-Animator: Evolution (2017)
Before Memory (2017)
Los Angeles Overnight (2017)
Killing Winston Jones (2017)
Sick People (2016)
The Black Room (2016)
Bayou Tales (2016)
Get the Money (2016)
The Midnight Man (2016)
Buster's Mal Heart (2016)
Texas Heart (2016)
Jack Goes Home (2016)
Director's Cut (2016)
Grow House (2016)
Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves (2015)
Tales of Halloween (2015)
Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha (2015)
Grace: The Possession (2014)
Lost Time (2014)
Mountain Top (2014)
The Signal (2014)
All American Christmas Carol (2013)
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Crazy Kind of Love (2013)
Big Ass Spider! (2013)
Life's an Itch (2012)
3 Days of Normal (2012)
The Three Stooges (2012)
FDR: American Badass! (2012)