Although some of her recognition may stem from her 1992 marriage to Warren Beatty, Annette Bening has established herself as an actress capable of far more than domesticating one of Hollywood's most notorious playboys. After winning raves for her role in 1990's The Grifters, Bening turned in a series of strong performances in films ranging from The American President to Richard III to American Beauty.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, on May 29, 1958, Bening moved with her family to San Diego, California when she was very young. It was there that she began to pursue her career, first as a dancer in various productions at a local college. Eventually graduating from San Francisco University (an education she paid for by working as a cook on a charter boat), Bening acted with San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre before moving to New York to further her stage experience. Her career in New York had its auspicious moments, such as winning a Tony Award nomination and a Clarence Derwent Award for Outstanding Debut Performance for her performance in Coastal Disturbances, but Bening endured a five-year struggle before breaking into film.