Sydney Pollack -- one of Meryl Streep's collaborators time and again -- once proclaimed her the most gifted film actress of the late 20th century. Most insiders would concur with this assessment. To avid moviegoers, she represents the essence of onscreen dramatic art. Like Hoffman (and De Niro), she demonstrates a transcendent ability to plunge into her characters and lose herself inside of them, transforming herself physically to meet the demands of her roles. A luminous blonde with nearly translucent pale skin, intelligent blue eyes, and an elegant facial bone structure, Streep sustains a fragile, fleeting beauty that allows her to travel the spectrum between earthily plain (Ironweed), and ethereally glamorous and radiant (Manhattan, Heartburn).
Born June 22, 1949, in Summit, NJ, Streep took operatic voice lessons, and subsequently cultivated a fascination with acting while she attended Bernards High School. Upon graduation, Streep studied drama at Vassar, Dartmouth, and Yale, where she appeared in 30 to 40 productions with the Yale Repertory Theater. With a five-star education and years of collegiate stage work under her belt, Streep headed for the New York footlights and launched her off-Broadway career. Streep's performance in Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, for which she received a Tony nomination, constitutes a particularly strong theatrical highlight from this period. She made her television debut in Robert Markowitz's The Deadliest Season (1977). That year she also appeared onscreen for the first time in Fred Zinnmann's Julia (1977) as Anna Marie, opposite heavyweights Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Hal Holbrook. The following year, Streep picked up an Emmy for her performance in Marvin J. Chomsky's miniseries Holocaust. She first teamed with De Niro in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978).