Gena Rowlands (born June 19, 1930) is an American actress of film, stage and television. The 3 time Emmy and 2 time Golden Globe winner is best known for her collaborations with her actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, in two of which, Gloria and A Woman Under the Influence, she gave Academy Award-nominated performances.
Born as Virginia Cathryn Rowlands in Madison, Wisconsin, Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a banker and a state legislator, and her mother, Mary Allen (née Neal), was a painter and housewife originally from Arkansas. The family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1939 when Edwin was appointed to a position in the United States Department of Agriculture; moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1942 when he was appointed as branch manager of the Office of Price Administration; and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. From 1947-50, she attended the University of Wisconsin, where she was a popular student already renowned for her beauty. She left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In the early 1950s, Rowlands performed with repertory theatre companies and at the Provincetown Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in The Seven Year Itch and toured in a national production of the play. Rowlands guest starred on such anthology television series as Robert Montgomery Presents, Appointment with Adventure, Kraft Television Theatre, and Studio One (1955). In 1956, she starred in Middle of the Night opposite Edward G. Robinson. She appeared alongside husband Cassavetes on an episode ("Fly Baby, Fly") of the 1959–60 NBC detective series Johnny Staccato.