Actress Kathy Bates has been involved in the arts in one way or another since graduating from Southern Methodist University. Among the Memphis native's earliest jobs were a stint as a singing waitress in a Catskill resort and a sojourn as a gift shop cashier in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Bates was type-cast in character roles early on, which assured her a lot more work than the thousands of faceless ingenues in the business. Her film debut occurred with 1971's Taking Off, and she made her off-Broadway debut five years later in Vanities.
For a long while, Bates made her name on the stage, only to see her roles go to other actresses in the plays' subsequent film adaptations. In 1983, she was nominated for a Tony award for her stage appearance as a garrulous would-be suicide in 'Night, Mother, a role played on screen by Sissy Spacek. She also appeared as Lenny McGrath in Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Crimes of the Heart, a role played on screen by Diane Keaton. And in 1987, playwright Terrence McNally wrote a part specifically tailored to Bates' talents: the much-abused waitress Frankie in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, a role which won her an Obie award, and, following a familiar pattern, was played on screen by Michelle Pfeiffer.