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Shelley Duvall, star of 'The Shining' who retired to the Texas Hill Country, dies at 75

Shelley Duvall, acting in a scene in "The Shining," looks on while talking to someone in a kitchen scene.
Shelley Duvall, known around the world for her starring role in The Shining, has lived in the Texas Hill Country for decades. She died there Thursday at the age of 75.

Shelley Duvall, who starred in world-famous films like The Shining before retiring to the Texas Hill Country, has died at the age of 75.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Duvall's life partner Dan Gilroy said she died Thursday from complications from diabetes at their home in Blanco, about 50 miles west of Austin.

Duvall was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2020 by the Austin Film Society. Born in Fort Worth and raised in Houston, she was "one of the iconic actresses of ‘70s and ‘80s Hollywood," AFS said in its press release at the time, "appearing in a number of classic [director Robert] Altman films including Thieves Like Us, Nashville, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Popeye, and 3 Women, for which she won Cannes Best Actress Award and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award."

“She was such a dedicated performer and was somebody who loved and relished what she could bring to the art form. Shelley Duvall had a huge, huge impact on me with her films. She has the most incredible screen presence,” Holly Herrick, head of film and creative media for AFS, told KUT.

Duvall, a student in junior college at the time, was discovered by Altman while he was in Houston to film Brewster McCloud. As Duvall told the story in an interview with David Letterman, crew members working on the film were invited to a party at Duvall's house and asked her to meet Altman the next day. With no acting experience, Duvall was convinced to join the film — marking the start of a series of movie collaborations with Altman.

Asked once why she appeared in so many of his films, Duvall said, "He offers me ... good roles. None of them have been alike. He has a great confidence in me, and a trust and respect for me, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on me or intimidate me, and I love him."

In addition to a famous portrayal of Olive Oyl opposite Robin Williams in 1980's Popeye, Duvall was a "writer, producer, and director in her own right with multiple children’s entertainment series, including Faerie Tale Theatre, Mother Goose Rock’N’Rhyme, Tall Tales, and Legends and Bedtime Stories," AFS said in its press release.

“I think about her in two ways: First, as the actor that I loved, but I think about her too now just in terms of Texas film heritage and Texas film stories. And what magic happens when a filmmaker like Robert Altman makes a film in Texas. That creates Shelley Duvall," Herrick said.

In a 1992 interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, Duvall said she had a great desire to reconnect with her Texas roots after back-to-back movies, one of which was filmed abroad in Malta.

"Gosh, if only I could have a house," Duvall said.

Duvall's last film role was in 2002. She would spend the rest of her life in the Texas Hill Country.

In his statement to The Hollywood Reporter announcing Duvall's death, Gilroy said, “My dear, sweet, wonderful life partner and friend left us. Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away, beautiful Shelley.”

KUT's Jerry Quijano contributed reporting to this story.

Andy Jechow is the audience engagement editor for KUT News. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter at @AndyJechow.