Virginia Elizabeth Davis was born in Wareham, Massachusetts, moviegoers know her as Geena Davis. As a child, she dreamt of being an actress so after high school graduation, Davis entered New England College in New Hampshire and then transferred the next year to Boston University, where she majored in drama. She graduated in 1979 and moved to New York to begin her career. She worked at Ann Taylor, where she eventually rose to Saturday window mannequin while trying to get a job with a modeling agency. She was eventually signed by the Zoli Agency and wound up as a model in the Victoria Secret’s Catalogue. The late director/producer Sydney Pollack was browsing the catalogue looking for new talent, spotted Davis and immediately cast her in the 1982 comedy Tootsie. Receiving good reviews, Davis moved to Los Angeles where she was cast as Wendy in the short-lived but critically acclaimed 1983 comedy television series Buffalo Bill. Moving to the big screen, Davis starred in the hit 1985 Chevy Chase crime comedy Fletch. Davis was on fire starring with her second husband, Jeff Goldblum, in the 1985 remake of the horror film The Fly and more success followed such as with director Tim Burton’s dark comedy 1988’s Beetlejuice. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1988 romantic drama The Accidental Tourist and Davis’ role in the 1992 successful sports dramedy A League of Their Own made her a household name. Davis has also branched out her acting range starring as the 1996 actioner The Long Kiss Goodnight opposite Samuel L. Jackson and starring in the 1999 animated family film Stuart Little and its 2002 sequel Stuart Little 2. In honor of her 58th birthday, here is a Top 10 list of Geena Davis movies.
10. Tootsie: This 1982 romantic dramedy was a small part for Davis. She played April Page, a fellow cast member on the soap opera that Dustin Hoffman dressed up as Dorothy Michaels to be on. She was perky and the few scenes she was in, she bubbled on screen and gave moviegoers a small glimpse into Davis’ pert acting talent.
9. Earth Girls Are Easy: This 1988 musical romantic comedy had Davis starring with her second husband, Jeff Goldblum along with the then-unknown Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Julie Brown. The movie’s plot was based on the song “Earth Girls Are Easy” from Julie Brown’s 1984 mini-album Goddess In Progress. Davis played Valerie, who falls for Goldblum’s alien character when he and Wayans and Carrey’s spaceship crash lands in her pool. The jokes are off-the-wall and Davis’ portrayal of a ditzy manicurist is endearing as she tries to not put all of her romantic dreams into a future with an alien.
8. The Fly: This 1986 sci-fi horror remake was based loosely on George Langelaan’s 1957 short story of the same name, which also formed the basis for the 1958 original. This was Davis’ first time starring with her future husband, Goldblum. She played Veronica Quaife, a journalist who begins a romance with Goldblum’s character, Seth Brundle, an eccentric but brilliant scientist, who becomes a fly due to an experiment gone horribly wrong. Davis really conveyed her pain at the climax of the movie when she was forced to kill Brundle, who had become a heinous mutant creature bent on fusing himself, her and their unborn child into “the perfect family.” In this movie, Davis proved she could express raw emotion extremely well.
7. The Accidental Tourist: Davis won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this 1988 romantic dramedy. The film’s screenplay was adapted from the novel of the same name by Anne Tyler. Co-starring with William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, David Ogden Stiers, Ed Begley Jr. and Bill Pullman, Davis played Muriel Pritchett, an animal hospital employee and dog trainer, who befriends Hurt’s character after his marriage crumbles following his young son’s murder. Davis’ win was a surprise yet she infused a rather dark plotline with effervescence and vivacity.
6. Thelma & Louise: This 1991 adventure female buddy film, directed by Ridley Scott, had Davis co-starring with Susan Sarandon, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and a then-unknown Brad Pitt, and garnered both Davis and Sarandon Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Davis played Thelma, who takes a road trip with her best friend Louise (Sarandon) to get away from her controlling husband, Daryl (Madsen.) Along the way, the stop at a cowboy bar, where Louise almost gets raped but shoots and kills her attempted rapist. The two women then go on the run as fugitives. Davis portrayed a no-nonsense, fun-loving quality in Thelma even though she allows herself to be seduced by a drifter named J.D. (Pitt,) who steals all of her and Louise’s money.
5. Beetlejuice: This 1988 comedy, directed by Tim Burton, had Davis starring with Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones. Davis played Barbara Maitland, her husband, Adam (Baldwin,) die in an automobile accident and become ghosts in their beloved house as a new family moves in. Davis’ wacky antics with Baldwin as they try to scare the new tenants away and as she interacts with “bio-exorcist” Beetlejuice (Keaton) were classically hilarious. Talk of a long-awaited sequel that’s in the works has made fans of this cult classic standing up and cheering!
4. A League of Their Own: This 1992 sports dramedy tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL.) Directed by Penny Marshall, Davis co-starred with Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, Megan Cavanagh, Lori Petty, David Strathairn, Bill Pullman and Jon Lovitz. Davis played Dottie Hinson, who only stayed in the league for a year but the film shows an older Hinson attending the opening of the new AAGPBL exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. She sees many of her former teammates and friends, prompting a flashback to 1943. Davis’ bubbly persona and swift athleticism made this an unforgettable role for Davis and ones her fans think of her fondly in.
3. Cutthroat Island: This 1995 action adventure comedy directed by Davis’ then husband Renny Harlin, had Davis starring opposite Matthew Modine and Frank Langella. Though it received mixed reviews and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest box office flop of all time, IMO, it does have some elements that made for an adequate pirate movie. Davis played Morgan Adams, the swashbuckling female pirate, who is searching for the map to the legendary “Cutthroat Island,” a remote island where a huge stash of stolen gold is said to have been hidden. IMO, Modine and Davis had on-screen chemistry and Langella played a formidable villain.
2. Speechless: Davis starred and co-produced this 1994 romantic comedy with her then-husband Harlin. She co-starred yet again with funnyman Michael Keaton, but this time with him as her love interest. The film also starred Bonnie Bedelia, Ernie Hudson, Mitchell Ryan and the late Christopher Reeve. Davis played Julia Mann, a campaign speechwriter. She meets fellow speechwriter, Kevin Vallick (Keaton) and they fall in love but their romance is thrown a monkey wrench when they learn that they are speechwriters for opposing candidates in the New Mexico Senate race. Davis’ quirkiness combined with Keaton’s signature relaxed comedic style made moviegoers unable to help falling in love right along with them. Davis did garner a Golden Globe nomination for the role, which I believe was richly deserved.
1. The Long Kiss Goodnight: Davis portrayed her varied acting range in this 1996 actioner, which was directed and produced by Davis’ then-husband Harlin. Davis co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson, Craig Bierko, Yvonne Zima, Brian Cox, David Morse, Patrick Malahide and Melina Kanakaredes. Davis played amnesiac Samantha Caine, a small town schoolteacher, who learns she’s really a government assassin named Charly Baltimore. Davis showcased her acting talent as she smoothly transitioned from a sweet school marm into a ruthless killer. Along with Jackson’s character, PI Mitch Henessey, Charly uncovers a secret government plot and attempt to stop it. Along the way, we learn her young daughter, Caitlin (Zima) was the product of a one-night stand with a target, the soulless Timothy (Bierko.) Davis and Jackson were a formidable action duo as they killed the bad guys and tried to save a town full of innocent people from being blown up. IMO, Davis should do more action flicks because she showed she could handle the physicality it entails and she’s just plain great at it, LOL!