Born to Edwyn Myrwyn Rowlands, a banker and a state legislator (Assembly, 1927-1935; Senate, 1935-1939), and his wife Mary Allen Neal, a painter, she was raised in Cambria, Wisconsin, until her father was appointed to a position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1939. After the Washington years, the family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1942.
Attended the University of Wisconsin from 1947 to 1950, when she left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Sister of David Rowlands.
Her performance as Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under the Influence (1974) is ranked #63 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Name rhymes with henna.
Favorite actress of Maggie Gyllenhaal.
As of 2013, she is one of six women who has received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for a performance directed by her spouse. She is the only one who has received two such nominations, for A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980) (both directed by John Cassavetes). The other five are Elisabeth Bergner for Escape Me Never (1935) (directed by Paul Czinner), Jean Simmons for The Happy Ending (1969) (directed by Richard Brooks), Frances McDormand for Fargo (1996) (directed by Joel Coen), Julie Andrews for Victor Victoria (1982) (directed by Blake Edwards), and Joanne Woodward for Rachel, Rachel (1968) (directed by Paul Newman). Jules Dassin also directed his future wife Melina Mercouri in a Best Actress Oscar nominated performance (Never on Sunday (1960)), but they weren't married yet at the time of the nomination.
Daughter of Lady Rowlands.
Mother-in-law of Heather Wahlquist.
Sister of Kappa Kappa Gamma women's fraternity.
Her father was of Welsh descent. Her mother had English ancestry.