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Born William Bradley Pitt on December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, actor Brad Pitt can trace his Oklahoma roots as far back as the 1889 Land Run era. His grandmother's family settled around Noble, Purcell, and eventually, Etowah, in the Cleveland and McClain counties area. Some of them later moved to Shawnee, where his grandmother and other family members still resided at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Pitt's father and mother, William Alvin Pitt and Jane Etta Hillhouse, met at Oklahoma Baptist University and married in 1962. The Pitt family later moved from Shawnee to Tulsa and then on to Springfield, Missouri.

Brad Pitt graduated from Kickapoo High School in Springfield and attended the University of Missouri as a student in advertising. In 1986, shortly before completing his degree, he decided to travel to Hollywood to try acting. During the next few years he took odd jobs, landed some television spots, commercials, and guest roles in several television series, and did some work in made-for-television movies. His scant, fourteen-minute on-screen appearance in the 1991 film Thelma and Louise attracted the attention of important film makers. Major roles in motion pictures such as A River Runs Through It (1992), Kalifornia (1993), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Legends of the Fall (1994), and Se7en (1995) established his reputation as a gifted actor.

Pitt was nominated for a 1995 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, for his work in Legends of the Fall. His performance as an insane asylum inmate in Twelve Monkeys earned him the 1996 Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor, the 1996 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, U.S.A., a 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor, and a 1996 Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He also won the 1998 Rembrandt Audience Award for Best Actor for his role in Seven Years In Tibet (1997). By 2001 Pitt had made more than twenty-seven major feature films and showed no indication of slowing down. He married actress Jennifer Aniston on July 29, 2000.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Brad Pitt," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Leonard Maltin, Spencer Green, and Luke Sader, Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia (New York: Penguin Books, 1994).

Judith Michener

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