“It means a lot, the work is so important to me,” said June Squibb about being nominated for an Oscar in 2014. “It means I have done something [the Academy] feel rates in the high percentile of the acting that was done this year and that is very exciting.”
Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Nebraska, June’s career has included an impressive range of works across theatre, film and television. “I always worked on stage, film and television,” she said. “I simply wouldn’t know what life would be without it.”
Born November 6, 1929 in Vandalia in Illinois, the 84-year-old once joked that her acting aspirations started “when I came out of the womb”.
“I don’t know what did it,” she added. “Certainly not my family, or that part of the country. But I went to the movies. My early influence was film, but I never thought of myself working in film. I always thought of myself as being on stage.”
“My backup career was modelling,” she recalled. “I did a lot of the print modeling and what they used to call industrial modeling at the big conventions. Luckily I didn’t have to do it very often.”
June’s mother, JoyBelle, was a famous piano player in silent movies, who went on to win the world championship piano playing contest in 1975 and again in 1976. June’s father, Lewis, worked in insurance, and was also in the navy during the Second World War.
The elegant actress first got her big break in showbusiness when she starred in the original 1959 production of the musical Gypsy. June continued to thrive on stage, performing in the 1968 musical The Happy Time, which went on to be nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical.
In 2012, she played matriarch Stella Gordon in Dividing the Estate at the Dallas Theater Center, for which she received outstanding reviews from critics.
As well as being successful on stage, June has appeared in film and television, working alongside big names such as Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
One of her most recognised roles as the wife of Jack Nicholson’s character in 2002’s About Schmidt. “None other than June would have played that role on my book,” said director Alexander Payne. “None could have done better.”
Since then, her most famous role arguably is playing Kate Grant in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, opposite Bruce Dern, which earned her an Oscar nomination in 2014. “The script was so beautiful and surprising,” she said. “I was amazed at the stuff I got to say.”
June, who is the widow of renowned acting teacher Charles Kakatsakis, watched the nominations with her filmmaker son Harry.
“We watched the nominations together,” she remembered. “At my house in Sherman Oaks. When he heard, he got up and came over and held me. We were both almost crying and it was lovely.”
When asked about ageism in the industry and her future plans, Jude had one comment for critics. “It’s like anything else,” she smiled. “Rules are meant to be broken.”