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Annette Carol Bening (born May 29, 1958) is an American actress. Bening is a four-time Oscar nominee for her roles in The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right, winning Golden Globe Awards for the latter two films. Bening is married to actor Warren Beatty, with whom she has four children.

Bening was born in Topeka, Kansas, the youngest of four children. Her mother, Shirley (née Ashley), was a church singer and soloist, and her father, Arnett Grant Bening, was a sales training consultant and insurance salesman. Her parents, natives of Iowa, were practicing Episcopalians and conservative Republicans. Her sister and two brothers are Jane, Bradley, and Byron. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1959, where she spent her early childhood. In 1965, her father took a job with a company in San Diego, California, and they moved there. She began acting in junior high school, playing the lead in The Sound of Music. She graduated in 1975 from Patrick Henry High School where she studied drama.

She then spent a year working as a cook on a charter boat taking fishing parties out on the Pacific Ocean, and scuba diving for recreation. She attended San Diego Mesa College, then completed an academic degree in theatre arts at San Francisco State University. Bening joined the acting company at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while studying acting as part of the Advanced Theatre Training Program. During this time she established herself as a formidable acting talent in roles like Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth.

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