Perhaps best known for her trademark curly blond tresses and her faithful appearances at L.A. Lakers basketball games, Dyan Cannon has enjoyed nearly fifty years in the entertainment industry. Born Samille Diane Friesen in Tacoma, Washington, Cannon had early dreams of becoming an actress. She made her screen debut with a small part in the critically acclaimed crime drama The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960). A short-lived television series called This Rebel Breed (1960) followed that same year. It was during this time that she caught the eye of one of Hollywood’s favorite leading men, Cary Grant, who was 35 years her senior. The couple, a hotbed of Hollywood gossip, experienced an on-again, off-again relationship until marrying in 1965. Cannon left her acting career behind during her short-lived marriage to Grant and bore his daughter, Jennifer Grant, in 1966.
Cannon and Grant were divorced in 1968, and she returned to the big screen in 1969 in the pop-culture classic Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. A series of less-than-remarkable television and feature films followed in the early 1970s, but comedies proved her most successful medium. Cannon received another Academy Award nomination for Heaven Can Wait (1978), where she played a money-hungry, adulterous wife who hatches a plot to kill her husband only to find that another man has been reincarnated via her husband’s body. The multi-talented Cannon, who is also a singer/songwriter, found success behind the camera as well as in front of it. In 1976, she produced, directed, wrote, and edited the short film Number One (1976), an Academy Award nominee for Best Short Film-Live Action. The tedious experience of wearing so many hats deterred her from writing and directing again until 1991, with the release of The End of Innocence (1990).
She gave a strong and critically acclaimed performance in the picture, but it received a lukewarm response overall. The 1980s and 1990s found Cannon on the small screen more often than the big one, as she starred in several made-for-TV movies and made guest appearances in numerous series. Most notable was her recurring role on the hit show Ally McBeal (1997), where, in 1997-98, she played Judge Jennifer “Whipper” Cone in several episodes of the wacky comedy/drama. Though it’s been 20 years since Cannon scored a major movie success and she’s outgrown her sexpot image (early nude photos of the actress are still in circulation), she continues to find respectable roles in decent-though-not-great films, most recently Out to Sea (1997) with the aging comedy duo of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon; 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997), That Darn Cat (1997) and Boynton Beach Club (2005).
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