Few contemporary actresses capture the glamour of old Hollywood, but this ethereal beauty is one of the exceptions. After winning a local California beauty contest, Pfeiffer began popping up on TV before making the leap to big-time film star. Although she suffered through a few notorious bombs early on (Grease 2, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen), Pfeiffer's career picked up momentum in the mid-'80s as she proved she was more than just a pretty face by acting opposite some of the most respected names in the business (Al Pacino in Scarface, Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick). In 1988, she showcased her versatility with three diverse turns in a trio of distinctly different films: the ubiquitous woman caught between two men in the action flick Tequila Sunrise; a Mafia widow trying to start over in the comedy Married to the Mob; and a chaste 18th-century do-gooder targeted by a lothario in Dangerous Liaisons, a devastating performance that earned Pfeiffer her first Oscar nod. Now an A-lister, Pfeiffer was careful not to pigeonhole herself, appearing in romantic comedies (One Fine Day), blockbusters (a delicious turn as Catwoman in Batman Returns), musicals (The Fabulous Baker Boys, which earned her a second Academy Award nomination) and myriad dramas, including a charming performance as Jackie O.'s No. 1 fan in Love Field, which netted her a third Oscar nod. As the '90s wore on, Pfeiffer slowed down, taking time off to focus on her children with TV writer/producer David E. Kelley, and appearing only occasionally on the big screen, but making an impression every time (White Oleander, The Deep End of the Ocean). After lending her voice to the animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Pfeiffer took a four-year hiatus from acting. But she returned full-force in 2007, starring in Amy Heckerling's romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman, and subsequently anchoring the fantasy adaptation Stardust and the period drama Chéri.
- A high-school drama class spurred her interest in acting.
- Entered---and won---the Miss Orange County (CA) contest in 1978 so she could meet one of the judges, who was a Hollywood agent.
- Turned down several high-profile parts, including Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (which won Jodie Foster an Oscar) and Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct, a role that went to Sharon Stone.
- Appeared in Coolio's video for "Gangsta's Paradise," from the soundtrack to her 1995 film Dangerous Minds.
- Named "Woman of the Year" by Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals in 1995.
- Starred in 1996 drama To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, which was penned by her husband, TV writer/producer David E. Kelley.
- Starting in 2003, took a four-year hiatus from acting to spend more time with her family.
- Returned to the big screen in 2007 with I Could Never Be Your Woman, and subsequently starred in Hairspray (2007) and Chéri (2009).
- 1993, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
- 1989, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 1994, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
- 1989, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Nominee
- 2018, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 1990, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Winner
- 2008, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Winner
- 1990, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Winner
- 1992, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Nominee
- 1991, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
- 2007, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2017, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Supporting Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series: Nominee
- 1988, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- 1992, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 2002, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- 1993, Berlin Film Festival — Silver Bear for Best Actress: Winner
- 2017, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Nominee
- 1991, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Actress in a Leading Role: Nominee
- Dedee Pfeiffer — Sister
- Lori Pfeiffer — Sister
- Rick Pfeiffer — Brother
- David E. Kelley — Husband
- Claudia Rose Kelley — Daughter
- Donna Pfeiffer — Mother
- John Henry Kelley — Son
- Dick Pfeiffer — Father
- Fisher Stevens — Ex-significant Other
- Peter Horton — Ex-husband
- Attended Golden West College, Huntington Beach, California, United States