She won an Oscar for her performance in the 1984 mother-daughter drama Terms of Endearment, has appeared in more than 50 features, and next year will be honoured by the American Film Institute (AFI) with a 40th AFI Life Achievement Award.
"Shirley MacLaine is a powerhouse of personality that has illuminated screens large and small across six decades," said Sir Howard Stringer, chair of the board of trustees of the American Film Institute. "From ingénue to screen legend, Shirley has entertained a global audience through song, dance, laughter and tears, and her career as writer, director and producer is even further evidence of her passion for the art form and her seemingly boundless talents.”
MacLaine made her professional debut dancing in a Broadway revival of Oklahoma! in the 1950s and her first film appearance, in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry, earned her a Golden Globe for her potential as a newcomer.
Nearly 40 years later in 1993, when in her late 50s, she was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the American Comedy Awards. Her body of work has been honoured many times since.
MacLaine received an Honorary Golden Bear and Silver Bears for Desperate Characters (1971, shared with Simone Signoret in Le Chat) and Ask Any Girl (1959) at the Berlin International Film Festival, BAFTA Awards for The Apartment (1960) and Ask Any Girl, best actress awards at the Venice Film Festival for Madame Soutsatzka (1988) and The Apartment, and six additional Golden Globes for outstanding contribution to entertainment (1998), Madame Sousatzka, Terms of Endearment, Irma la Douce (1963), The Apartment, and for her versatility (1959).
Earlier this year she received France's most prestigious cultural award, the Legion of Honor. She was part of the team that won an Emmy for Gypsy in My Soul (1976), made for CBS – and won a Razzie Award for Cannonball Run II (1984).
Jack Nicolson and Debra Winger starred alongside MacLaine in her Oscar-winning performance in Terms of Endearment and she has been nominated for Oscars for five other films: The Turning Point (1977), The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir (1975), Irma la Douce and The Apartment, both of which were directed by Billy Wilder and starred Jack Lemmon, and Some Came Running (1958).
The odd one out is the memoir because it was in the best documentary category: MacLaine appears on screen but also co-directed and produced the account of a three-week trip to China as head of a group of six women invited by Chairman Mao's Government.
In Her Shoes (2005), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Steel Magnolias (1989) and Being There (1979) are other notable films and she will next be on the big screen opposite Matthew McConaughey and Jack Black in Bernie.
A gala tribute will be held in Los Angeles on June 7. It will celebrate all her endeavours, including her success as a best-selling author. Many of her books address her spiritual side, including her faith in reincarnation, angels, the power of crystals and New Age beliefs.