Penelope Milford (born March 23, 1948) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Vi Munson in Coming Home (1978) for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also originated the role of Jenny Anderson in the Broadway musical Shenandoah, for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award in 1975.
Early life and education
Penelope Dale Milford was born March 23, 1948 in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in Illinois. She was the daughter of Richard George Milford (1917-1983) and Ann Marie (Felt) Milford (1921-2008). She graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, an affluent suburb of Chicago. Her brother Kim Milford (1951-1988) was also an actor.
In 1972 Milford joined the Broadway cast of the play Lenny, about the life of actor Lenny Bruce. In 1974 she was cast as Jenny Anderson in the musical Shenandoah, based on the Oscar nominated 1965 film of the same name in which her role was played by Rosemary Forsyth. Shenandoah opened on Broadway on January 7, 1975 and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical. For her performance, Milford was nominated for the first Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress, losing to her co-star Donna Theodore.
Off-Broadway in 1971, Milford starred as Judith opposite Richard Gere in Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone, a musical about artist Richard Fariña. Milford has appeared in Felix (1974), Fishing (1981) by Michael Weller, and Territorial Rites (1983). She has also performed in a revue show called The Second Hottest Show in Town.
In 2013, Milford played the role of Deborah in the Harold Pinter play A Kind of Alaska at the Cocoon Theatre in Rhinebeck, New York.
Her first television appearance was on a 1976 episode of The Blue Knight. In 1980, Milford starred in Seizure: The Story of Kathy Morris, as Kathy Morris. Also in 1980 she co-starred in the Emmy Award winning television movie The Oldest Living Graduate starring Henry Fonda and Cloris Leachman. In 1982 she starred opposite Sondra Locke in the Jackie Cooper directed Emmy Award winning television film Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story. In this film she played Betty Clooney, the sister of Rosemary Clooney. In 1984, Penelope appeared in the Golden Globe award-winning television movie The Burning Bed starring Farrah Fawcett. In 1985 she guest starred on an episode of The Hitchhiker.
Penelope's first film appearance was as an extra on the Norman Mailer film Maidstone (1970). In 1974 she appeared in the film Man on a Swing starring Cliff Robertson, Joel Grey and Elizabeth Wilson. She next played a fictional actress named Lorna Sinclair in Ken Russell's BAFTA-nominated 1977 film Valentino, about the life of actor Rudolph Valentino. In 1978 she was cast as Vi Munson in Coming Home. In the film she plays a young woman dealing with the effects of war on those around her alongside her friend Sally (Jane Fonda). The film was nominated for many Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Milford. In 1980 she appeared in the film The Last Word also starring Karen Black. She plays a supporting role in the 1981 film Take This Job and Shove It, starring Barbara Hershey and also in 1981 appears in Franco Zeffirelli's Oscar-nominated Endless Love, starring Brooke Shields and Shirley Knight. In 1982 she starred alongside Michael Moriarty and Geraldine Fitzgerald in the horror film Blood Link and then starred in the 1983 adventure film The Golden Seal.
After this time her film appearances became less frequent, not showing up again until the 1989 cult film Heathers starring Winona Ryder. Her last few films include Cold Justice (1989), Miss Missouri (1990), Normal Life (1996) starring Ashley Judd, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part II (1996) and Night of the Lawyers (1997).