Piper Laurie, the Emmy-winning actress best known for her roles in Carrie (1976) and The Hustler (1961), died on Saturday at a Los Angeles nursing facility at the age of 91, her representative confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
Her formidable performances across decades in film and television earned her three Academy Award nominations and a range of other accolades.
“The one thing I’ve heard over and over in my life was, ‘You have to be ready to work very hard,’” she told Fox News in one of her final interviews. “And I did. I like to work hard, and I always wanted to be good. I always wanted the work to be good.”
She emerged from a difficult childhood, having battled an anxiety disorder and spent three years at a children’s asylum starting at the age of 6 to be with her asthmatic sister.
Laurie made her film debut in 1950 with Louisa, where she acted alongside Ronald Reagan, portraying his daughter. She subsequently lost her virginity to Reagan after the pair worked together, she claimed in her 2011 memoir Learning to Live Out Loud.
The actress took a sizable break from acting after starring in The Hustler, spending 15 years away from the silver screen to raise her daughter Anne with her then-husband. It was during this stretch that she experienced what she’d described as one of her proudest moments: The New York Times profiled her for its food section, publishing the recipe for her dill bread loaf.
Brian De Palma approached her four years later to star in Carrie, where she earned critical praise for her portrayal of Sissy Spacek’s deeply religious mother.
“At first, I didn’t know if it was a comedy or what. I remembered I tried some things during rehearsal, and I was told, ‘Piper, I don’t think you could do that. You’re gonna get a laugh!’” she told Fox. “We were all supposed to take this seriously. But I played my role very big and flashy.”
Laurie skipped out on the Oscars in 1961, when she was nominated in the midst of her battle with amphetamine addiction, later voicing her relief at having lost to Sophia Loren.
She earned two back-to-back Emmy nominations for her work in Twin Peaks, where her performance continued even after her initial role met a fiery end in the first season. Laurie secretly returned to the set to portray a Japanese businessman at the direction of David Lynch, unbeknownst to her co-stars.
Her storied acting career continued into her eighties, appearing in 2018’s White Boy Rick as the grandmother of Richard Wershe Jr., the real-life FBI informant turned drug dealer.
Laurie had been unwell for “some time,” her rep, Marion Rosenberg, told The Hollywood Reporter.
She is survived by her daughter, Anna.