Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 24, 1940 - Sue Grafton

From Wikipedia (Accessed April 24, 2019):

Sue Taylor Grafton (April 24, 1940 – December 28, 2017) was an American author of detective novels. She is best known as the author of the "alphabet series" ("A" Is for Alibi, etc.) featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California. The daughter of detective novelist C. W. Grafton, she said the strongest influence on her crime novels was author Ross Macdonald. Before her success with this series, she wrote screenplays for television movies.
Early life
Sue Grafton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to C. W. Grafton (1909-1982) and Vivian Harnsberger, both of whom were the children of Presbyterian missionaries.[2]

Her father was a municipal bond lawyer who also wrote mystery novels and her mother was a former high school chemistry teacher.[3] Her father enlisted in the Army during World War II when she was three and returned when she was five, after which her home life started falling apart. Both parents became alcoholics and Grafton said "From the age of five onward, I was left to raise myself".[4][5]

Grafton and her older sister Ann grew up in Louisville, where she went to Atherton High School.[5][6] She attended the University of Louisville (first year) and Western Kentucky State Teachers College (now Western Kentucky University) in her sophomore and junior years[7] before graduating from the University of Louisville in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and minors in humanities and fine arts. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi.[8]

After graduating, Grafton worked as a hospital admissions clerk, a cashier, and a medical secretary in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara, California.[8]

Grafton's mother killed herself in 1960 after returning home from an operation to remove esophageal cancer brought on by years of drinking and smoking. Her father died in 1982, a few months before "A" Is for Alibi was published.[9]
Writing career
Grafton's father was enamored of detective fiction and wrote at night. He taught Grafton lessons on the writing and editing process and groomed her to be a writer. Inspired by her father, Grafton began writing when she was 18 and finished her first novel four years later. She continued writing and completed six more novels. Only two of these seven novels (Keziah Dane and The Lolly-Madonna War) were published.[5][10] Grafton would later destroy the manuscripts for her five early, unpublished novels.[11]

Unable to find success with her novels, Grafton turned to screenplays.[12] Grafton worked for the next 15 years writing screenplays for television movies, including Sex and the Single ParentMark, I Love You; and Nurse. Graton sold the movie rights for The Lolly-Madonna War and co-wrote the screenplay for the feature film. The adaptation, released in 1973 as Lolly-Madonna XXX, starred Rod Steiger and Jeff Bridges. Her screenplay for Walking Through the Fireearned a Christopher Award in 1979. In collaboration with her husband, Steven Humphrey, she also adapted the Agatha Christie novels A Caribbean Mysteryand Sparkling Cyanide for television and co-wrote A Killer in the Family and Love on the Run.[8][13] She is credited with the story upon which the screenplay for the made for TV movie Svengali (1983) was based.[14][15]

Her experience as a screenwriter taught her the basics of structuring a story, writing dialogue, and creating action sequences. Grafton then felt ready to return to writing fiction.[13] While going through a "bitter divorce and custody battle that lasted six long years", Grafton imagined ways to kill or maim her ex-husband. Her fantasies were so vivid that she decided to write them down.[16]

Alphabet series

                                        Sue Grafton
Grafton had been fascinated by mysteries series whose titles were related, such as John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, each of which included a color in the title, and Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small series, each of which included a day of the week in the title. While reading Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a picture book with an alphabetized list of ways for children to die, Grafton decided to write a series of novels whose titles would follow the alphabet. She immediately sat down and made a list of all of the crime-related words that she knew.[13]

These became the series now known as the "alphabet novels", featuring sleuth and private investigator Kinsey Millhone. The series is set in Santa Teresa, a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara.[17] Grafton followed the lead of Ross Macdonald, who created the fictional version of the city.[18] Grafton described Kinsey Millhone as her alter ego, "the person I might have been had I not married young and had children."[9]

The series begins with "A" Is for Alibi, published and set in 1982. "B" Is for Burglar, followed, then "C" Is for Corpse, each novel's title combining a letter with a word, except X. After the publication of "G" Is for Gumshoe, Grafton was able to quit her screenwriting job and focus on her writing.[16] Since the publication of "A" is for Alibi, a new episode was released each year or so.[19] The name of each book was a source of speculation.[20] In May 2009, Grafton told Media Bistro that she was "just trying to figure out how to get from "U" Is for Undertow to "Z" Is for Zero"[21] and that "just because she knows the endgame title for Z [...] doesn't mean she knows what V, W, X, and Y will be".[19] Grafton said that the series would end with "Z" Is for Zero, but she died before she could begin writing it. Her daughter said Grafton would never allow a ghostwriter to write in her name and "as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y."[22]

Grafton's novels have been published in 28 countries and in 26 languages.[22] She refused to sell the film and television rights, because writing screenplays "cured" her of the desire to work with Hollywood.[13] (TV movies in Japan, however, were adapted from ’B’ is for Burglar and ’D’ is for Deadbeat.)[11] Grafton told her children her ghost would haunt them if they sold the film rights after her death.[23] The books in the series were on The New York Times Best Seller listfor an aggregate of about 400 weeks. F is for Fugitive was the first, entering at number 10 on the paperback list; by 1995 "L" is for Lawless entered the best seller list at number one followed by ten more in the series.[24]
Writing style
Grafton's style is characteristic of hardboiled detective fiction, according to the authors of 'G' is for Grafton, who describe it as "laconic, breezy, wise-cracking".[25] The novels are framed as reports Kinsey writes in the course of her investigations, which are signed off in the epilogue of each novel. The First-person narrative allows the reader to see through the eyes of Kinsey, who chronicles various descriptions of "eccentric buildings and places", giving depth to the narrative.[26] The repeated descriptions of the Santa Barbara shoreline (chronicled as Kinsey's early morning runs), are "skillful, evocative writing of a caliber that takes Grafton well beyond being categorized as 'merely' a writer of detective fiction and into the so-called mainstream of 'serious' American fiction."[27]
Grafton's "B" Is for Burglar and "C" Is for Corpse won the first two Anthony Awards for Best Novel (1986 & 1987), which are selected by the attendees of the annual Bouchercon Convention, ever awarded.[28][29]

She won the Anthony Best Novel Award once more (1991 for "G" Is for Gumshoe) and has been the recipient of three Shamus Awards.[29][30] Additionally in 1987 Grafton's short story, The Parker Shotgun, won the Anthony Award for Best Short Story.[29]

On June 13, 2000, Grafton was the recipient of the 2000 YWCA of Lexington Smith-Breckinridge Distinguished Woman of Achievement Award.[31]

In 2004, she received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, which is given to "a California writer whose work raises the standard of literary excellence." In 2008, Grafton was awarded the Cartier Dagger by the British Crime Writers' Association, honoring a lifetime's achievement in the field. Grafton received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2009.[32]

In 2013, she was presented Bouchercon's Lifetime Achievement Award.[33] In 2014, she was a Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime.[34] She was nominated for a 2014 Shamus Award in the category of Best Hardcover Novel, which she had won three times previously.[35]
Personal life
Grafton first married in 1959, aged 18, to James L. Flood, with whom she had a son and a daughter. The two divorced by the time Grafton graduated from college in 1961. Her second marriage was with Al Schmidt in 1962 but it ended with protracted divorce and custody proceedings over their daughter.[32]

She married her third husband, Steven F. Humphrey, in 1978.[10] They divided their time between Santa Barbara, California, and Louisville, Kentucky;[5]Humphrey taught at universities in both cities.[16] In 2000, the couple bought and later restored Lincliff, a 28-acre (11 ha) Louisville estate once owned by hardware baron William Richardson Belknap.[5][36]

Grafton died at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara[1] on December 28, 2017, after a two-year battle with cancer.[22][37][10]
·        Keziah Dane (1967)
·        The Lolly-Madonna War (1969) – filmed as Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973)

Alphabet Mystery series
For the character, see Kinsey Millhone.
1.   "A" Is for Alibi (1982)
2.   "B" Is for Burglar (1985)
3.   "C" Is for Corpse (1986)
4.   "D" Is for Deadbeat (1987)
5.   "E" Is for Evidence (1988)
6.   "F" Is for Fugitive (1989)
7.   "G" Is for Gumshoe (1990)
8.   "H" Is for Homicide (1991)
9.   "I" Is for Innocent (1992)
10. "J" Is for Judgment (1993)
11. "K" Is for Killer (1994)
12. "L" Is for Lawless (1995)
13. "M" Is for Malice (1996)
14. "N" Is for Noose (1998)
15. "O" Is for Outlaw (1999)
16. "P" Is for Peril (2001)
17. "Q" Is for Quarry (2002)
18. "R" Is for Ricochet (2004)
19. "S" Is for Silence (2005)
20. "T" Is for Trespass (2007)
21. "U" Is for Undertow (2009)
22. "V" Is for Vengeance (2011)
23. "W" Is for Wasted (2013)
24. "X" (2015)
25. "Y" Is for Yesterday (2017)
Essays and short stories
·        "Teaching a Child" (2013) – essay in the anthology Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, published by W. W. Norton & Company.
·        Kinsey and Me (2013) – a collection of Kinsey Millhone short stories along with other short stories about Grafton's own mother.
·        The Lying Game (2003) – a Kinsey Millhone short story which appeared in the September 2003 special 40th anniversary Lands' End catalogue. It also appeared as a separate pamphlet given to attendees at Malice Domestic 2011 conference, where Grafton was recognized for Lifetime Achievement.
In popular culture

Grafton's introduction of a young, no-nonsense female private detective in the Alphabet Mystery series was ground-breaking at the time when A is for Alibiwas first released. Until the creation of Kinsey Milhone and V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only in 1982, private detectives in fiction were almost always male.[38]
·        In the "Mayham" episode of The Sopranos, Carmela sits by Tony's bedside in the hospital, reading Sue Grafton's "G" Is for Gumshoe.[39]
·        In the "Local Ad" episode of The Office, Phyllis goes to a Sue Grafton book signing at the mall to try to get her to be in the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton branch commercial.[40] She is told by Michael Scott not to take no for an answer. After waiting in line, Phyllis meets Grafton, only to be rebuffed by her.[40] Phyllis continues to ask until she is thrown out of the store. Meanwhile, Andy and Creed talk about how "crazy hot" the author is.
·        A scene in the film Stranger Than Fiction shows Prof. Hilbert reading the Sue Grafton novel "I" Is for Innocent while serving as a lifeguard.[41][42]
·        In the Superego podcast Season 3 Episode 14, guest star, actor and comedian, Rob Delaney impersonates Sue Grafton.[43]
1.     Ellis, Ralph (December 29, 2017). "Sue Grafton, mystery writer who based titles on the alphabet, dies at 77". CNN. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
2.     Ward, Kat (August 9, 2015). "Sue Grafton In Conversation". Archived from the original on December 30, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
3.     "Kinsey Millhone's PI Report on Sue Grafton". Sue Grafton official website. Archived from the original on April 22, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
4.     Schudel, Matt (December 29, 2017). "Sue Grafton, author of best-selling 'alphabet' mysteries, dies at 77". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 30, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
5.     Myers, Marc (August 22, 2017). "Author Sue Grafton's Scary Childhood Home". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
6.     Shanklin, Sherlene (December 29, 2017). "Hometown Hero, local author Sue Grafton dies at 77". WHAS-TV. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
7.     "Questions and Answers". Sue Grafton Website. Archived from the original on March 28, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
8.     "The Kinsey Report". Sue Grafton Website. Archived from the original on November 18, 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
9.     Crace, John (March 18, 2013). "Sue Grafton: 'My childhood ended when I was five'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 10, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
10. Genzlinger, Neil (December 29, 2017). "Sue Grafton, Whose Detective Novels Spanned the Alphabet, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
11. Carlson, Michael (January 3, 2018). "Sue Grafton obituary". Guardian. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
12. "'Lolly-Madonna' changed lives". Anchorage Daily News. July 8, 1973. p. 14.
13. "A Conversation with Sue Grafton". Sue Grafton Website. 1996. Archived from the original on December 31, 2006. Retrieved February 8,2007.
14.  O'Connor, John J. (March 9, 1983). "TV Movie: 'Svengali'". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
15. "More credits for'Svengali'". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
16. White, Claire E. "A Conversation with Sue Grafton". Writers Write. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
17. Brantingham, Barney (July 1, 2008). "W Is for Writers Conference; Sue Grafton Is Kinsey Millhone". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
18. "Bestselling Mystery Writer Sue Grafton To Speak at Annual Literary Voices Event". The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County. 2007. Archived from the original on July 11, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
19. Hogan, Ron (May 1, 2009). "Conversations with the Grand Masters". GalleyCat. Media Bistro. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
20. Brantingham, Barney (April 29, 2010). "Just Who Is Kinsey Millhone?". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
21. Pitz, Marylynne (October 7, 2013). "Sue Grafton: Writing her way through the alphabet". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA: Block Communications. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
22. Loosemore, Bailey (December 29, 2017). "Sue Grafton, internationally acclaimed mystery author and Louisville native, dies". Louisville Courier-Journal. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
23. Richards, Linda L. (1997). ""G" Is for Grafton: Sue Grafton's Murderous Moments". January Magazine. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
24. Cowles, Gregory (January 5, 2018). "Before Sue Grafton Was a Star". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
25. Kaufman (1997), 385
26. Kaufman (1997), 386
27. Kaufman (1997), 390
28. "AnthonyAwards". Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
29. "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention: Anthony Awards and History". Retrieved March 5, 2012.
30. "Sue Grafton". Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
31. "YWCA to honor Grafton". Lexington Herald-Leader. June 4, 2000. p. H5.
32. Powell, Steven (2012). 100 American Crime Writers. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 138–41. ISBN 978-0-230-52537-5. Retrieved December 30,2017.
33. "History of Guests of Honor". Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. Archived from the original on September 13, 2016. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
34. Surber, Lucinda. "Left Coast Crime 2014: Calamari Crime".
35. "The Private Eye Writers of America". Retrieved December 30, 2017.
36. Ward, Logan (2014). "Sue Grafton's Kentucky Garden". Garden & Gun. Archived from the original on December 30, 2017. Retrieved December 30,2017.
37. "Mystery writer Sue Grafton dies in California". Archived from the original on December 30, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
38. Kim, Victoria. "Famed mystery writer Sue Grafton loses battle against cancer". Retrieved April 6, 2018.
39. Schwarzbaum, Lisa (January 13, 2007). "The Coma-Back Kid". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
40. Fenno, Christine (October 28, 2007). "The Office: See Spot Not Run". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
41. Crust, Kevin (November 10, 2006). "He's hearing things". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.
42. Silvis, Steffen (April 11, 2007). "One character in search of an author". The Prague Post.
43. "Sue Grafton – The Superego Podcast: Profiles In Self-Obsession". July 1, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2012.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Gardner, Julia Elizabeth. Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky : (Re)writing the Hardboiled Genre. Lexington, Ky.: [s.n.], 2001. Print.
Young Library Theses 5th Floor Stacks (Theses 2001)

Kaufman, Natalie Hevener., and Carol McGinnis Kay. "G" Is for Grafton : The World of Kinsey Millhone. 1st ed. New York: Henry Holt, 1997. Print.
PS3557.R13 Z75 1997, Special Collections Research Center Closed Stacks

Beattie, L. Elisabeth, Wade Hall, Susan. Lippman, and University Press of Kentucky. Conversations with Kentucky Writers. Lexington: U of Kentucky, 1996. Kentucky Remembered. Web.
PS266.K4 C66 1996, Young Library Books - 5th Floor

Monday, April 22, 2019

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 22, 1787 or 1788 - Matthew Harris Jouett


Image from

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Matthew Harris Jouett, one of the most significant antebellum portraitists of the South, was born on April 22 in 1787 or 1788 near Harrodsburg in Mercer County, Kentucky. He was one of twelve children born to Capt. John and Sallie (Robards) Jouett. When Jouett was five, his family moved to Woodford County. He enrolled in Transylvania University in Lexington in 1804. After graduating with honors four years later, Jouett began to study law with Judge George M. Bibb of the Kentucky appellate court in Frankfort.

In 1812 Jouett enlisted in the 3d Mounted Regiment of the Kentucky Volunteers. He was appointed first lieutenant and paymaster of the 28th U.S. Infantry and on July 13, 1814, was promoted to a captain. He resigned his position on January 20, 1815. Jouett decided not to practice law but to follow his ambition to become a portrait painter and miniaturist, based in Lexington. After studying with Gilbert Stuart in Boston from July through October 1816, he was able to double his price for portraits.

Jouett was unable to make a living in Kentucky, however, and from 1817 until his death, he spent winters in New Orleans, Natchez, and other southern cities along the Mississippi River, painting portraits of notable citizens. The New Orleans directory of 1824 lists Jouett as a portrait painter with a studio at 49 Canal Street. From 1817 to 1825 Jouett's Lexington studio was in the Kentucky Hotel on Short Street. In June 1817 Jouett arranged an exhibition of his paintings and those of other artists for the benefit of the Fayette Hospital.

A total of 334 portraits and miniatures are attributed to Jouett between the years 1816 and his death. One of the most celebrated is that of General Lafayette. He painted several portraits of Henry Clay , one of which hangs in Ashland, the Clay estate. Other subjects included Gen. George Rogers Clark , Gov. Isaac Shelby (1792-96, 1812-16), Sen. Isham Talbot , Dr. W.C. Galt, Asa Blanchard , Robert Crittenden, and Dr. Horace Holley . In 1826 Jouett maintained a studio in Louisville as well as Lexington.

As popular as Jouett's portraits were in the South, he did not become known nationally until his paintings of Gen. Charles Scott and John Grimes were shown in the Chicago Exposition in 1893. Jouett's first one-man exhibition was a retrospective held at the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville between February 19 and March 4, 1928. Jouett's paintings are owned by the Filson Club, the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Speed Museum , as well as numerous private collectors.

Jouett married Margaret Henderson Allen of Fayette County on May 25, 1812; they had nine children. Jouett died at his home outside Lexington on August 10, 1827, and was buried in the family burial ground of his father-in- law, William Allen. Around the turn of the century, the bodies of Jouett and his wife were reburied in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Strode-Jackson, Arnold N. S. Kentucky Heyday, 1787-1827; the Life and times of Kentucky's Foremost Portrait Painter. 1st Ed.]. ed. New York: Vantage, 1956. Print.
ND237.J8 S75, available, Fine Arts Library

Martin, Mary Farmer Rodgers. Catalogue of All Known Paintings by Matthew Harris Jouett. Louisville, 1939. Print.
759.1 Sp32, Special Collections Research Center

Jonas, Edward A. Matthew Harris Jouett, Kentucky Portrait Painter (1787-1827). Louisville, Ky.: J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, 1938. Print. SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN02173.02 KUK.
ND237.J8 J6, Fine Arts Library

Friday, April 19, 2019

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 19, 1968 - Ashley Judd


Image from

From Current Biography (Bio Ref Bank) -
Although she was born into a singing family--mother Naomi and sister Wynonna comprised the Grammy-winning country duo the Judds, and Wynonna has had a successful solo career since the early 1990s--Ashley Judd chose to pursue a career in Hollywood. She had prominent roles in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and Sisters before winning the title role, that of a dreamy loner, in the 1993 movie Ruby in Paradise, and she has since starred in several hits, including Heat (1995), Kiss the Girls (1997), and Double Jeopardy (1999). Critics have praised Judd for the feminine strength she conveys on-screen; writing in Us magazine (January 1996) about the actress, who spent much of her childhood in rural Kentucky, David Hochman observed, "Ashley Judd is the sort of character Tennessee Williams might have created had he grown up watching MTV."

Ashley Judd was born on April 19, 1968 in Los Angeles to Michael Ciminella, a marketing specialist in the horse-racing industry, and Naomi Ciminella, who would go by her maiden name--Judd--after her divorce, when Ashley was four. Following several tumultuous years of struggling to survive on their own in California, Ashley, her older sister, Wynonna, and their mother moved to Kentucky. Money was scarce in that rural environment, and the trio moved around a lot, from one run-down house to another. Often they didn't have heat or running water. By the time she was 13, Ashley Judd had attended 12 different schools, an experience, she has said, from which she learned to be adaptable. According to Chuck Arnold in People (October 13, 1997), Naomi, who supported her daughters by working as a nurse, would often say, "Kids, pour more water in the soup. Better days are coming." Naomi also repeatedly told the girls that they were special and were destined to achieve great things. Judd still cites her mother's confidence in her as one of the greatest gifts she has ever received.

Because few other sources of entertainment were available, music played a big part in the household. Someone gave Naomi an old guitar, and Wynonna soon showed a knack for playing it. Although Ashley enjoyed the music, she had no interest in performing, and she has joked that given the quality of her voice, the public is lucky she followed another career path. While Naomi and Wynonna practiced the act that would eventually make them stars, the youngest Judd spent her time alone, reading. When she was 15, her mother and sister landed a major recording contract and embarked on a strenuous concert schedule. When the Judds, as her mother and sister became known, were on the road, Ashley lived with her father or grandparents. Many journalists have portrayed Ashley Judd as a Cinderella figure, pointing out that she used to clean the tour bus for pocket money. Judd herself has claimed that her family's fame didn't prevent her from leading the life of an average teenager, although she told Gail Buchalter for Parade (August 22, 1993), "A few times, I got mad waiting for them to stop rehearsing, but that's no different from any kid whose parents work at home. I remember getting really angry when no one picked me up at cheerleading practice or student council meetings." A television miniseries about the Judds, which aired in 1995, portrayed the teenage Ashley as petulant and dependent. Although she admitted to being engrossed by the show (she even provided the narrative voice-over for it), Judd told Lawrence Grobel for TV Guide (May 13, 1995), "I feel I look a little whiny, and I come across as having been frequently put out by their pursuit of their dream. That wasn't the reality, though I'm sure at times my feelings were hurt or I felt excluded."

After finishing high school, Judd attended the University of Kentucky, where she majored in French and minored in four separate disciplines--anthropology, women's studies, art history, and theater. When a prominent member of the board of trustees at the school made a racist remark, Judd led a campus-wide walkout to demand his resignation. Devoted to her studies, she generally maintained a 4.0 average. She graduated in 1990, with Phi Beta Kappa honors. (She remains passionate about the school's basketball team, the Wildcats.)

After graduation Judd was accepted into the Peace Corps. Fluent in French, she volunteered to go to a French-speaking part of Africa--preferably "an extremely traditional village," as she told Buchalter, "so I could start my career as a sociocultural anthropologist." But she felt conflicted. She had been interested in acting since she had seen Jane Fonda's performance in The Dollmaker (1984). Worried that her age would be against her if she delayed trying her luck in Hollywood, Judd approached her family for advice. Naomi was resistant to the idea at first. "She was aghast," Judd told Buchalter. "In her plans for me, I was running the Cousteau Society. But by the end of my presentation, Mom was as excited as I was and said she'd do anything to help me."

Judd moved to Los Angeles, got a restaurant job to support herself, and began taking acting classes. She asked the Triad Agency, where she had interned during her junior year of college, to represent her, and the firm agreed to send her on one audition. At this pivotal juncture in Judd's life, her mother announced publicly that she was ill with hepatitis C and would no longer perform with Wynonna. Some journalists have theorized that the news of the family's tribulations overshadowed the actress's fledgling career, but others think that it drew additional attention to her. "When I auditioned, I didn't tell anyone who my family was," Judd told Buchalter. "I was raised to be self-sufficient, and that's paramount to any success I attain. I guess my faith and arrogance kept me thinking I could make it on my own." Judd was offered the role for which she had tried out--the female lead in the movie Kuffs, starring Christian Slater--but turned it down in favor of a smaller role, because the Kuffs part required a nude scene. "My mother worked too hard for me to take off my clothes in my first movie," she told Cynthia Sanz for People (October 12, 1992).

That job was quickly followed by the recurring role of Ensign Mussler on the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not long after she landed that assignment, she joined the cast of the critically acclaimed dramatic series Sisters. From 1991 to 1994 she portrayed the daughter of the character played by Swoosie Kurtz. Meanwhile, eager for more film roles, in 1993 she earned the part of the title character in Ruby in Paradise, the tale of a dreamer from a small Tennessee town who escapes to find her identity in Panama City, Florida. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, and Judd received an Independent Spirit Award, as well as unanimously favorable reviews, for her powerful portrayal. Victor Nunez, who directed the picture, explained why, after despairing of ever finding the right person to portray Ruby, he chose Judd. "It was a fluke," he told the New York Times (October 3, 1993, on-line). "Three of the actresses were very good. But they were all a little too much Tennessee Williams and not enough Tennessee. Their experience of the South was from doing Williams, not from living in the north of Florida. Not only did Ashley have an intuitive sense of who Ruby was, she also knew what it was like to weather a winter in Appalachia."

After the success of Ruby in Paradise, Judd was advised to make her next project a big-budget Hollywood movie. Ever independent, she opted instead to go to New York to star in a revival of William Inge's play Picnic, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1953. After that she returned to Hollywood, where her next performance, in Oliver Stone's film Natural Born Killers (1994), ended up on the cutting-room floor. Hired to play the sole survivor of a slumber-party massacre in the movie, Judd imbued her character with chilling realism. The Ratings and Classification Board of the Motion Picture Association of America initially gave the picture an NC-17 rating, specifically citing Judd's scenes as being too emotionally harrowing, and Stone deleted them. Judd has said that she viewed his action as a testament to her acting ability.

In 1995 Judd made an appearance in the movie Smoke. Cast opposite veteran actors Stockard Channing and Harvey Keitel, she drew raves from the critics with her vivid turn as Channing's drug-addicted daughter. Her Hollywood profile rose even higher with her appearance in the 1995 film Heat. In it she played the wife of Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), one of a band of audacious robbers headed by Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and pursued by detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). Judd held her own with the heavy-hitting cast, and she was soon offered the role of Matthew McConaughey's wife in the film A Time to Kill (1996), based on a John Grisham novel.

Also in 1996 Judd starred in Normal Life, opposite Luke Perry. The story of a bank-robbing couple, the movie went straight to video after a corporate shake-up at Fine Line Features, its distributor. In the same year Judd starred in the unusual Home Box Office (HBO) movie Norma Jean & Marilyn. The project, which presented the life of Marilyn Monroe from the perspectives of two different aspects of her personality, starred Mira Sorvino as the glamorous side of the screen goddess and Judd as Norma Jean, the insecure orphan who would be transformed by the Hollywood studio system. Judd had never been interested in Monroe, perhaps because she was born almost six years after the actress's death, but after studying Monroe's work, she began to develop respect for her larger-than-life subject. "I have a lot of admiration for her animal brilliance, her ability to survive, to know what she needed and how to go about getting it," Judd told Hilary De Vries for TV Guide (May 18, 1996). So capably did Judd portray the young Monroe that she was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award.

By the end of 1996, Judd felt exhausted, and she sank into a deep depression. She secluded herself and began intensive therapy, through which she examined her childhood years and came to the realization that they were not "quite as sunny as she had wanted to remember," as Bernard Weinraub reported in Redbook (November 1997). "I was looking at old stuff," she explained to Weinraub. "And the fact is, I really encourage people to look at it, because it doesn't break you. It actually heals you."

Judd emerged from that bleak time ready to work, and her next roles cemented her screen image as a strong woman. While the 1997 movie The Locusts was not a hit, critics singled out for praise Judd's performance as a free-spirited midwesterner; she herself told Michael Angeli for Esquire (February 1997), "It's the proudest I've ever been of my work." The actress's biggest hit to date also came out that year. Kiss the Girls starred Judd as a feisty doctor who teams up with a detective, played by Morgan Freeman, to thwart a serial killer. The movie was a huge success at the box office, and Judd was particularly proud that she did most of her own stunt work--even learning kickboxing for the role. Discussing her casting, Gary Fleder, who directed Kiss the Girls, told Lucy Kaylin for Gentlemen's Quarterly (October 1999), "The thing that was important to me was that the character couldn't be a victim. And I thought Ashley was the perfect nonvictim. She refused to be broken."

Judd's 1998 film, Simon Birch, was not as well received by moviegoers, but as usual, Judd's performance--this time as the mother of the title character--was hailed by critics. Later that year Judd narrated a Family Channel special on the life of her sister. But if 1998 was a relatively low-profile year on her resume, 1999 would prove to be anything but. Opening in September of that year, Double Jeopardy starred Judd as a woman wrongly imprisoned for killing her husband. While in jail, she discovers that her husband is still alive and enjoying himself with her best friend. Reasoning that you can't be tried and convicted for the same crime twice, she plots her revenge. Originally the role had been intended for Jodie Foster, but Foster dropped out of the project when she discovered that she was pregnant. A determined Judd then lobbied the director, Bruce Beresford, for the part. The movie features several scenes of Judd working out in prison in preparation for her release; critics found those sequences charmingly reminiscent of similar scenes in Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. In the first two weeks after its premiere, the movie, which co-starred Tommy Lee Jones, made almost $50 million and established Judd as a bona fide leading lady. (Its earnings eventually reached more than $116 million in the U.S. alone.)

Judd next starred in The Eye of the Beholder (2000), as a psychopathic killer who frequently changes her appearance to foil her pursuers. The film was almost universally panned, but Stephen Holden wrote for the New York Times (January 28, 2000), "Judd, at least, emerges from this fiasco with her dignity intact. . . . She is clearly giving her all to an unsalvageable enterprise." Judd appeared opposite Natalie Portman in Where the Heart Is (2000), a movie based on the Southern Gothic novel of the same name by Billie Letts, which the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey had selected for her popular book club. Although the book sold well, the movie was neither a critical nor commercial success. Judd currently has several projects in production, including a film based on the life of the artist Frida Kahlo, which is due to be released in 2001.

Unable to pigeonhole Judd, journalists have often resorted to comparing her to other actresses, and she has been described variously as having the casual beauty of Elizabeth Taylor, the icy sophistication of Grace Kelly, and the strength of Katharine Hepburn. Feature writers seem to relish the challenge of analyzing Judd--a woman who, on the one hand, has described herself as a "ball-buster" and, on the other, carries quilts and stuffed animals with her when she travels, to make her hotel rooms cozier. "True to her rural Kentucky roots," Hilary De Vries wrote, "Judd is a classic southern woman, all syrupy charm on the outside, wrought iron underneath. One minute, she is the girl next door with her well-scrubbed sexiness and down-home aphorisms, nattering on about 'Mawma' and 'grandaddy' and life on the farm. Spend enough time with her, however, and you realize Judd's cultivated farm-fresh image can yield with startling speed to that of a cool-headed careerist."

Riveted by her on-screen work, Judd's fans have shown just as much interest in the star's personal life. Judd had a widely publicized romance with Matthew McConaughey during the filming of A Time to Kill, and the two remain good friends. She was also linked with Robert De Niro, but although the two admitted to admiration for each other, they denied any deeper involvement. Judd laughed at the idea that she always dated her leading men. "I actually sat down and counted," she told Ned Zeman during an interview for Harper's Bazaar (May 1997). "In 10 professional outings, [I was involved with] exactly two of my co-stars, both of which were wonderful love affairs. Just 20 percent. Which, by the way, is well below the national average." Judd's next confirmed relationship was with the singer Michael Bolton, whom she met through her sister. Although the romance eventually ended, she credited Bolton for helping her through her depression in 1996. In May 2000 she announced that she was engaged to be married to the Scottish race-car driver Dario Franchitti.

A devoted aunt, Judd has frequently regaled listeners with tales of Wynonna's children. She is said to be intensely loyal to her friends. The actress lives in a century-old house on the property of Peaceful Valley, the Judd family's 1,000-acre Tennessee farm. She told David Hochman for Us, "I'm modeling it after C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, with cubbyholes and secret passageways, old gun cabinets and medicine chests built of chestnut, all because it was the first book ever read to me as a child and my house needs to be a magical place." Interviewers who have seen the house confirm that it is, indeed, magical--full of overstuffed chairs and whimsically painted surfaces. -- M.R.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Nunez, Victor., Ashley. Judd, Todd. Field, Bentley. Mitchum, Full Crew/Say Yea Productions, Ruby In Paradise Ltd, and October Films. Ruby in Paradise. Los Angeles: Republic Pictures, 1994.
AV-V4476, Young Media Library
Mazzello, Joseph., Oliver. Platt, Ian Michael. Smith, and Ashley. Judd. Simon Birch. S.l.]: Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 1999.
AV-D4482, Young Media Library

Freeman, Morgan., Ashley. Judd, Cary Elwes, Tony. Goldwyn, Jay O. Sanders, Gary. Fleder, David Klass, James Patterson, Paramount Pictures Corporation, and Rysher Entertainment. Kiss the Girls. Hollywood, CA: Paramount, 1998. Widescreen DVD Collection.
AV-D4481, Young Media Library