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Susan Sarandon, the eldest of nine children in a Roman Catholic family, was born as Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, as the daughter of Leonora Marie Criscione and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, who worked as an advertising executive, television producer, and nightclub singer during the big band era. Sarandon's father was of English, Irish and Welsh ancestry, and her Italian American mother's ancestors emigrated from the regions of Tuscany and Sicily.
Sarandon was schooled in Roman Catholic schools and grew up in Edison, New Jersey, where she graduated from Edison High School in 1964. After high school, Sarandon continued her education and attended The Catholic University of America from 1964 to 1968 and earned a BA in drama and worked with noted drama coach and master teacher, Father Gilbert V. Hartke.
In 1969, Sarandon went to a casting call for the motion-picture Joe, with her then-husband Chris Sarandon. Although he did not get a part, she was cast in a major role of a disaffected teen, who disappears into the seedy underworld which film was released in 1970. Between the years 1970 and 1972, Sarandon landed a role in a soap opera and played Patrice Kahlman on A World Apart, and on Search for Tomorrow, in the role of Sarah Fairbanks. She appeared in Fleur bleue (The Apprentice) (1971) and also appeared in Lady Liberty (1971), by Mario Monicelli, opposite Sophia Loren.
In 1974, she co-starred in The Front Page, with the comedy duo Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and Lovin' Molly with Anthony Perkins. She appeared in the cult favorite musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). That same year, she played the female lead in The Great Waldo Pepper, opposite Robert Redford. In 1978, Sarandon played the mother of a child prostitute, who was played by Brooke Shields, in Pretty Baby.
Susan Sarandon's hand and foot prints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Her most controversial film appearance was in The Hunger in 1983, a modern vampire story in which she had a lesbian sex scene with Catherine Deneuve. The film was a critical and commercial flop but gained a cult following. Sarandon played one of the leads in the 1987 dark comedy/fantasy film The Witches of Eastwick, opposite Jack Nicholson. Sarandon starred in the 1988 film Bull Durham, which became a huge commercial and critical success. In 1989, she co-starred with Marlon Brando in A Dry White Season.
Sarandon received five Academy Award nominations, for best actress, in Atlantic City (1980), Thelma & Louise (1991), Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and The Client (1994). In 1995, she won the award for her performance in Dead Man Walking.
Additional performances in film include Little Women (1994), Compromising Positions, Stepmom (1998), Anywhere but Here (1999), Cradle Will Rock (1999), The Banger Sisters (2002), Shall We Dance (2004), Alfie (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Elizabethtown (2005) and Enchanted (2007).
Sarandon has also appeared in two episodes of The Simpsons, one as herself ("Bart Has Two Mommies") and another as a ballet teacher, "Homer vs. Patty and Selma". She has made appearances on comedies such as Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Mad TV, Saturday Night Live, Chappelle's Show, and Rescue Me.
Sarandon has contributed the narration to some two dozen documentary film, many of which dealt with social and political issues; in addition, she has served as the presenter on many installments of the PBS documentary series, Independent Lens. In 2007, she hosted and presented Mythos, a series of lectures by the late American mythology professor Joseph Campbell.
Sarandon joined the cast of the adaptation of The Lovely Bones, opposite Rachel Weisz, and appeared with her daughter, Eva Amurri, in Middle of Nowhere; both of the movies were filmed in 2007.
In June 2010, Sarandon joined the cast of new HBO pilot The Miraculous Year. She will play the role of Patty Atwood, a Broadway director/choreographer.