Tough and resilient: those are two words that people have used to describe Linda Hamilton, one of the most remarkable and longest-serving actresses Hollywood has ever known. Married to film-making legend James Cameron during part of the late 1990s, she continues to inspire audiences, with appearances as diverse as Terminator and The Beauty and the Beast.
Born on September 26, 1956, in Salisbury, Maryland, Hamilton’s early life wasn’t always easy. Her father died when she was five and her mother later married a police chief. This experience informed Hamilton’s acting style, and she naturally exuded a tough, stoic energy, which was something filmmakers loved.
As such, Hamilton’s personal life was challenging. She originally married Bruce Abbott in 1982 and had a son with him, but they divorced in 1989. Later, she had a romantic relationship with James Cameron, marrying him in 1997. Unfortunately, that also ended in 1999, resulting in a $50 million divorce settlement.
Hamilton has been public with her struggles, including her issues with binge eating. She thought self-medication would help her deal with life’s battles but later learned the opposite was true.
Fame And Fortune
Her professional acting debut occurred in 1979, when she was just 23 years old, after landing a small part in Night-Flowers. It was only a foot in the door, but enough to set up her acting career.
Three years later, she got the starring role in TAG: The Assassination. It was a low-budget action movie but was something that caught the eye of Hollywood bigwigs and encouraged them to take a look at the actress more closely.
Soon after that, her career took off. She starred in the Stephen King film adaptation of Children of the Corn soon after and then joined the Terminator franchise in 1984, playing the role of Sarah Connor, attempting to prevent cyborg assassins from killing her and destroying the world.
Over the years, Hamilton increased the breadth and scope of her acting work. She starred in a tremendous array of films, including Silent Fall, Separate Lives, and A Mother’s Prayer. She also worked alongside many of the biggest names in show business, including Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas.
During the middle of her career, Hamilton took a diversion. Instead of focusing on starring in Hollywood movies, she transitioned to the stage and TV. She wanted to expand her horizons.
NBC asked Hamilton to star in the 2010 TV series Chuck, to play the role of CIA agent Mary Elizabeth Bartowski. Naturally, the actress managed to slip into this role perfectly, after having her step-father in real life being a cop to draw inspiration from.
During this era, she also starred in a Tennessee Williams stage production. Her portrayal of Maxine Faulk in the 2006 The Night of the Iguana was positively received, and many major news outlets loved her in that role.