While still in her teens, Lee Grant established herself as a formidable Broadway talent, winning the Critics Circle Award for her performance as the shoplifter in DETECTIVE STORY. She recreated this portrayal on film, garnering the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress, her first Academy Award nomination and an invitation into the prestigious Actors Studio.
Ms. Grant’s impressive film debut was cut short by the McCarthy Era entertainment industry blacklist. After 12 years, she resumed a stunning film career, beginning with a 1966 Emmy Award for Peyton Place and culminating with a 1976 Academy Award for Shampoo. During this time, she also received much attention for her riveting performance in the 1967 Academy Award winning picture In the Heat of the Night, another Emmy Award for the Neon Ceiling and Academy Award nominations for THE LANDLORD and Voyage of the Damned.
Ms. Grant remained involved with creative, innovative theater on both the east and west coasts. She won the 1964 Obie Award for The Maids. She performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival as Electra on PBS’s “Theater in America” series; as Arkadina in The Seagull; on Broadway in Neil Simon’s Prisoner of Second Avenue and his film Plaza Suite; and at the Williamstown Playhouse. She opened the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in the The Little Foxes, and helped to establish the Actors Studio West.
In 1974, Ms. Grant was accepted as a student director in the first Women’s Project at the American Film Institute. Her adaptation of Strindberg’s The Stronger (1976) still stands as one of the 10 best films ever produced for AFI. She went on to direct her first feature film, the critically acclaimed Tell Me a Riddle (1980), as well as her first documentary, The Willmar 8 (1981).
Since 1980, Ms. Grant has concentrated on her directorial efforts. She and her husband Joseph Feury launched an independent production company in 1982 and have since produced a number of award winning films. Their credits include five documentaries, made for HBO’s “America Undercover” series. “Battered” looked at the issue of domestic violence, while the episode “When Women Kill” profiled women serving prison sentences for homicide convictions. Similarly, “Women on Trial” examined court custody battles. Her documentary What Sex Am I? (1985) explored transvestite and transsexual lifestyles. Down and Out in America (1986) examined homelessness throughout the country and garnered both an Academy Award and a Cable Ace Award in 1986.
Of the company’s made-for-television movies, Ms. Grant received the 1987 Directors Guild Award for the CBS film Nobody’s Child (1986) and the 1989 FIPA D’Argent at the Cannes International Television Festival for No Place Like Home, also on CBS. In 1994, she directed three more television movies—Seasons of the Heart and Reunion for CBS, and Following Her Heart for NBC. Ms. Grant also returned to the screen as an actress, working on network television and in the feature films Defending Your Life (1991) and It’s My Party (1996).
In 1983, she received the Congressional Arts Caucus Award for outstanding achievement in acting and independent filmmaking. In 1984, she received a New York Drama Critics Award nomination for her direction of Vaclav Havel’s A Private View at the Public Theater. In 1989, Women in Film paid tribute to Ms. Grant with their first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, both the New York City Council and the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors recognized her for the contribution her films have made to the fight against domestic violence.
Her documentary, Say It, Fight It, Cure It, about breast cancer aired on Lifetime Television in October 1997. The following month, Ms. Grant received another Lifetime Achievement Award, with a retrospective screening of her acting and directorial work, at the celebrated Hamptons International Film Festival.
Ms. Grant has directed several episodes of “Intimate Portrait” for Lifetime Television; among them Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Bacall, Mia Farrow, Tipper Gore, Elizabeth Taylor and Gloria Steinem—Lifetime’s 100th portrait. Ms. Grant received a Gilda Award for her episode on Madeline Kahn, and “Intimate Portrait” Bella Abzug was the recipient of a Gracie Award. Ms. Grant directed the documentary Confronting the Crisis: Childcare in America, which aired on Lifetime in April 1999.
In the year 2000, Ms. Grant was lured back to the screen by the opportunity to work with director Robert Altman in Dr. T. & the Women.
Ms. Grant directed the documentaries The Gun Deadlock (2001) for Lifetime Television and a PBS “American Masters” on Sidney Poitier in 2001. In 2006, she directed an HBO documentary on Kirk and Michael Douglas, …A Father… A Son… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Ms. Grant, with husband Joe Feury, produced a critically acclaimed documentary on medics and the wounded in Iraq, “Baghdad ER”, which was released in 2006 on HBO and won the Emmy and the Peabody Award and several others.
Her memoir, I Said Yes To Everything: A Memoir was published in June 2014.