Geena Davis was one of the biggest stars around in the 1990s. However, somewhat surprisingly, her successful acting career appeared to fall apart after what could have been her most significant success, Thelma & Louise, in 1996.
While Davis always followed her passion and did the things she loved, her private life has been quite turbulent. She has been married four times – and for many years, she struggled to accept her beauty.
Today, Geena has finally managed to achieve just that. She is aging gracefully, admitting that she “got more attractive with every decade.” While she is mainly seen with makeup on, the actress is every bit as beautiful without as well.
Born on January 21, 1958, in Wareham, Massachusetts, Geena Davis had a peaceful childhood with her parents. She loved watching films when she was young. By age three, she knew she wanted to work as an actor.
“I was three years old, and how I even knew it was a job, I have no idea because we were only allowed to watch Disney movies, which were animated,” Geena Davis reminisced.
Geena Davis – early life & actor dreams
Perhaps the dreams of becoming an actor remained, yet as Davis grew up, she turned to athletics.
In high school, she was the tallest among the girls. Yet instead of empowering her, it actually hurt her self-esteem.
“They always wanted me on the basketball team, but I wasn’t too good,” she told The Chilliwack Progress in 1985.
“Track was my thing. I did high jumps and hurdles on the girls’ team. But it was hopeless if you were taller than everybody else.
“I had one date in high school, I lied about my height when I started modeling because, believe it or not, you can be considered too tall.
“I would wear high heels on job interviews so they wouldn’t know my actual height, I said I was 5-foot-10, but I’m actually 6 feet tall.”
In high school, Geena also played the flute in the marching band, and during her senior year, she left to study abroad in Sweden. As a result, she speaks fluent Swedish.
She then studied at New England College in New Hampshire and later transferred to Boston University, majoring in drama.
After graduating in 1977, Geena moved to New York City, where she served as a mannequin in store windows and as a sales clerk and waitress.
Davis wanted to become a model and worked hard to make that happen. Eventually, she signed with the Zoli Agency and was featured as a model in the famous Victoria’s Secret Catalog.
After being featured in the catalog, Davis’ transition into the film business was only a short leap away.
“I knew I wanted to be in movies, as opposed to theater,” she told NPR.
“I decided that I would try becoming a model first because, at that time, Christie Brinkley and Lauren Hutton were being offered parts in movies. And I thought, OK, well, I’ll just become a model, and then they’ll just offer me parts because, obviously, it’s so much easier to become a supermodel.”
“It ultimately all worked out for me, but the likelihood of becoming a famous model was actually pretty slim, and I didn’t,” she added.
“I did get work, and it was through my model agency that I got my first acting job.
According to IMDB, film director Sydney Pollack searched the catalog for new talents. He spotted Geena and decided to cast her in his 1982 film Tootsie.
Geena Davis’ most significant roles
After starring alongside Dustin Hoffman, Geena received excellent reviews for her performance. As a result, she decided to move to Los Angeles, after which it wasn’t long before her career flourished.
Davis starred in the critically acclaimed television series Buffalo Bill in 1983 and got her show, Sara, in 1985. Eventually, that got canceled, and she focused on the big screen instead.
Geena appeared in the 1985 film Transylvania 6-5000 alongside Jeff Goldblum, though it was something of a flop. However, her big breakthrough would come a year later, as she and Goldblum teamed up again for the iconic 1986 horror film The Fly.
Geena continued to land significant parts, appearing in the classic Tim Burton film Beetlejuice in 1988. Just a year later, she would get recognition from her fans and the most prestigious set of judges of them all.
In 1989, the actress starred in The Accidental Tourist, which became a huge success. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards – and Geena Davis won the award for Best Supporting Actress.
Throughout her whole life, Davis has been very passionate about women’s rights, especially women’s representation in show business.
Wants more women in the acting business
By starring alongside Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise in 1991, she hoped to change things regarding women’s roles in show business, which had been male-dominated for a long time.
Sadly, according to her, she wasn’t able to.
“There are going to be so many movies starring women, about women, female road pictures, whatever,” she said in a Q&A of the noise surrounding the film.
“I’m thinking, hot dog, let’s sit back and wait for all this magic change to happen. We’re still waiting. It really did not happen. It seems like every five years or so, there’s another movie starring women that’s a huge hit, and people say, ‘Well now certainly everything is going to change,’ and it really hasn’t.”
Thelma & Louise became a cult film as Sarandon and Davis roared off in their 1966 Ford Thunderbird. For Geena, though, it marked the start of her downfall from the big Hollywood scene.
Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum appeared in many films together. But their relationship would not only be a professional one as colleagues.
Geena Davis – marriages, divorces, husband, children
Davis has been married four times, first tying the knot with restaurateur Richard Emmolo in 1981. Sadly, their marriage only lasted for three years.
Geena and Jeff Goldblum’s love story began at the set of Transylvania 6-5000, and in 1987, the two married.
Speaking to People Magazine, Davis described their relationship as a “magical chapter” and “joyful.” Dating a fellow actor, she said, was very beneficial as it was “somebody who knows exactly what you’re going through” and who “was not in competition” with her.
Geena and Jeff’s love story was great, but sadly, it had a bitter ending. After four years, the two divorced. In 1990, Davis filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences”. A year later, Geena said that the couple had “high hopes” and “good intentions” regarding their union and that it was “upsetting” that things hadn’t worked out.
Neither Geena nor Jeff spoke about why they divorced at the time. Then, in 1989, Geena revealed that the two had discussed having children – but Jeff didn’t want to start a family.
“Jeff has this idea that when we agree on a name, I’ll instantly get pregnant. But you should hear the names he comes up with Sophie, Jasper, Fuji,” Davis said.
Why Geena David decided to take a break from acting
Years later, Jeff, on the other hand, said that in his younger years, he never wanted children. Today, he is happily married to Emilie Livingston – and has two kids.
“In a couple of lovely previous marriages I had, there was some fantasy talk about it, but never any serious business. And I always thought it was a good thing that I didn’t have any drama with kids and breaking up,” the actor explained.
Geena married her third husband, Renny Harling, in 1993, but only five years later, her third marriage was over. After the divorce was finalized, the actress decided to take two years to reflect on her career.
“I guess I thought my career would just go on the way it had,” she told Good Housekeeping. “But once I turned 40, I really did feel like I’d ceased to exist in Hollywood. I thought I’d have an older woman’s career like Meryl Streep or Jessica Lange did. But not only weren’t their roles for me but there also weren’t any for Meryl either. It was noticeable and unmistakable. And painful.”
Instead, Davis poured her passion into a whole different career. In 1996, she became fascinated with archery after watching American Justin Huish win two gold medals at the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. She even got herself her own coach and became “utterly obsessed.”
Her passion for archery was real, but it didn’t become the only love in her life. In 2001, she and doctor Reza Jarrahy tied the knot and welcomed three children; daughter Alizeh Keshvar and twin boys Kaiis Steven Jarrahy and Kian William Jarrahy.
“I always felt lucky that I had my kids late”
She gave birth to her daughter when she was 46 and the twins when she was 48.
“I always felt lucky that I had my kids late because I just feel like I changed so much,” Davis told The Guardian.
She added: “I always knew I wanted kids, but what I was doing waiting that long, I don’t know. I never tried before, in other words. But it’s been great. And twins are fun!”
Unfortunately, her fourth marriage also ended in divorce. She and Dr. Jarrahy stayed together for 16 years before the latter filed for divorce in 2017. However, it was rather messy, and it wasn’t finalized until 2021.
In recent years, Geena Davis has appeared in several television series. However, her immense passion has been running the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, focused on improving the representation of girls and women in children’s entertainment.
Davis spent two years researching and collecting data to show that there was a big problem in the industry, and it sure has paid off. Not only has Davis put the issue on the map and initiated a change, but the beloved Thelma & Louise actress won an honorary Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 2020.
“I had this realization that this problem we’re all trying to fix, gender inequality, well, a good way would be to stop teaching two-year-olds to have a gender bias,” she explained.
Genna Davis’ no makeup photo – she struggled to accept her beauty
Now, I think it’s fair to say Davis has always been a gorgeous woman. She is aging gracefully, and the 67-year-old has been, and remains, a role model for many.
However, just like many others, she also struggles at times with her self-esteem. Speaking to The Times, Geena revealed that she has had issues accepting her beauty, adding that she “desperately wanted to be pretty but wasn’t able to think I was.”
Geena added that she has never thought of herself as beautiful. Even though she became a model, it did nothing to convince her of her own beauty.
“I just thought I had figured out some magical way of holding my body so they would think I was pretty,” she said.
“Am I beautiful? I can be beautiful, and I actually accept it when I’m all dressed up, with makeup and hair and everything. Then I think, ‘Oh yeah, I’m not so bad.’ But it’s a struggle. It’s [always been] a struggle,” Davis added
Naturally, for any model or actor, makeup is a big part of the job. However, outside of the spotlight, Geena is not afraid to show off her natural beauty without wearing makeup.
She stated that she’s feeling more attractive as she gets older. What’s more, Davis explained that maturing hasn’t “been a source of pain.”
“It’s got much better over the years. I feel like I’ve got more attractive with every decade. Either I have, or I’m feeling better about myself. Which is great,” Davis added.
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