Barbara Hershey
Barbara Hershey
Character Cora
Season(s) S1 - S2 - S3 - OW - S4 - S5 - S6 - S7
Date of Birth February 5, 1948
Origin Hollywood, California, USA
IMDb profile

Barbara Hershey is a supporting actor on Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, portraying the role of Cora.


Early life

Barbara Lynn Herzstein was born in Hollywood, California. She is the daughter of Melrose (née Moore) and Arnold Nathan Herzstein. Her father, a horse racing columnist, was Jewish (his parents emigrated from Hungary and Russia) and her mother, a native of Arkansas, was a Presbyterian of Irish descent. The youngest of three children, Barbara always wanted to be an actress. Her family nicknamed her "Sarah Bernhardt". She was shy in school and so quiet that people thought she was deaf. By the age of 10, she proved herself to be an "A" student. Her high school drama coach helped her find an agent and in 1965, at age 17, she landed a role on Sally Field's television series, Gidget. She said that she found Field to be very supportive of her in her first acting role. According to The New York Times All Movie Guide, she graduated from Hollywood High School in 1966, but David Carradine, in his autobiography, said she dropped out of high school after she began acting.

Barbara's acting debut, three episodes of Gidget, was followed by the short-lived television series, The Monroes, which also featured Michael Anderson, Jr.. At this point, she had adopted the stage name of Hershey. Although she said that the series helped her career, she expressed some frustration with her role saying, "One week I was strong, the next, weak". While on the series, Hershey garnered several other roles, including one in Doris Day's final feature film, With Six You Get Eggroll.



In 1969, Hershey co-starred in the Glenn Ford western Heaven with a Gun. On the set, she met and began a romantic relationship with actor David Carradine, who later starred in the television series Kung Fu. In the same year, she acted in the controversial drama Last Summer, which was based on a novel by Evan Hunter. Hershey played Sandy in this film, influencing two young men, played by Bruce Davison and Richard Thomas, to rape another girl, played by Catherine Burns. Even though the film, directed by Frank Perry, received an X rating for the graphic rape scene, it earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Burns.

During the filming of Last Summer, a seagull was killed. "In one scene," Hershey explained, "I had to throw the bird in the air to make her fly. We had to reshoot the scene over and over again. I could tell the bird was tired. Finally when the scene was finished the director, Frank Perry, told me the bird had broken her neck on the last throw." Hershey felt responsible for the bird's death and changed her stage name to "Seagull", as a tribute to the creature. "I felt her spirit enter me," she later explained, "It was the only moral thing to do." The name change was not positively received. When she was offered a part opposite Timothy Bottoms in The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, in 1974, Hershey had to forfeit half her salary, $25,000, to be billed under the name "Seagull", because the producers were not in favor of the billing.


In 1970, Hershey played Tish Grey in The Baby Maker, a film that explored surrogate motherhood. Criticizing the directing and writing of James Bridges, critic Shirley Rigby said of the "bizarre" film, "Only the performances in the film save it from being a total travesty." Rigby went on to say, "Barbara Hershey is a great little actress, much, much more than just another pretty face."

Hershey once said that starring in Boxcar Bertha (1972), "was the most fun I ever had on a movie." The film co-starred Hershey's domestic partner, David Carradine. Produced by Roger Corman, the film was Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood picture. Shot in 6 weeks on a budget of $600,000, Boxcar Bertha was intended to be a period crime drama similar to Corman's Bloody Mama (1970).

Later in the decade, Hershey starred with Charlton Heston in The Last Hard Men (1976). She hoped the film would revive her career after the damage she felt it had suffered while she was with Carradine. She believed that the hippie label she had been given was a career impediment. By this time she had shed Carradine and her "Seagull" pseudonym. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, however, she was appearing in made-for-TV movies that were described as "forgettable".


When Hershey landed a role in Richard Rush's The Stunt Man (1980), it marked a return to the big screen after four years, and earned her critical praise. Hershey felt that she would be forever in debt to Rush for fighting with financiers to allow her a part in that film. She also felt that The Stunt Man was an important transition for her, from playing girls to playing women.

Some of the "women roles" that followed The Stunt Man included the horror movie The Entity (1982); Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff (1983); and The Natural (1984).

In 1986, Hershey left her native California and moved with her son to Manhattan. Three days later, she met briefly with Woody Allen, who offered her the role of Lee in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). In addition to a Manhattan apartment, Hershey also bought an antique home in rural Connecticut.

Hershey followed Hannah and Her Sisters with back-to-back wins for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for Shy People and for her appearance as anti-apartheid activist Diana Roth in A World Apart (1988). Her character in the latter film was based on Ruth First. Also in the 1980s, she portrayed Errol Flynn's first wife, actress Lili Damita, in the TV movie My Wicked, Wicked Ways (1985), which was based on Flynn's autobiography. She also played the love interest to Gene Hackman's character in the basketball film Hoosiers (1986).


In 1990, Hershey won an Emmy and a Golden Globe, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special for her role as Candy Morrison in A Killing in a Small Town. Also in 1990, Hershey drew upon what Woody Allen once described as her "erotic overtones", portraying a woman who falls in love with her much younger nephew, by marriage, played by Keanu Reeves, in the comedic Tune in Tomorrow.

In 1991, Hershey played Hanna Trout, the wife of the title character in Paris Trout, a made-for-cable television movie. In this Showtime production, Hershey collaborated again with A Killing in a Small Town director Stephen Gyllenhaal to play a woman who has an affair with her husband's lawyer. Her husband, an abusive bigot, played by Dennis Hopper, is on trial for murdering a young African-American girl. Later in the year, she played an attorney defending her college roommate for the murder of her husband in the suspenseful Defenseless.

Because of her frequent television appearances, by the end of 1991, Hershey was accused of "selling out to the small screen". In 1992 Hershey appeared with Jane Alexander in the ABC miniseries Stay the Night. She starred in another TV miniseries in 1993, succeeding Anjelica Huston, as Clara Allen in the sequel series Return to Lonesome Dove. She was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for another TV appearance, The Staircase (1998). Between 1999 and 2000, she played Dr. Francesca Alberghetti in 22 episodes of the sixth season of the medical TV drama Chicago Hope.

Among her feature film appearances during the 1990s was Jane Campion's adaptation of the Henry James novel The Portrait of a Lady. Hershey earned an Oscar nomination, and won the Best Supporting Actress award from the National Society of Film Critics for her role as Madame Serena Merle in that picture. In 1999 Hershey starred in an independent film called Drowning on Dry Land; during production she met co-star Naveen Andrews, with whom she began a romantic relationship that lasted until 2010.


In 2001, Hershey appeared in the psychological thriller Lantana. She was the only American in a mostly Australian cast, which included Kerry Armstrong, Anthony LaPaglia, and Geoffrey Rush. Another thriller followed in 2003: 11:14, which also featured Rachael Leigh Cook, Patrick Swayze, Hillary Swank and Colin Hanks.

Hershey continued to appear on television during the 2000s, including a season on the series The Mountain. She also starred as Anne Shirley as an adult in Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, in 2008.


Hershey appeared as an American actress, Mrs. Hubbard, in an adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express for the British television series Poirot, starring David Suchet, which aired in the United States on PBS, in 2010. Also in 2010, Hershey co-starred in Darren Aronofsky's acclaimed psychological thriller Black Swan, opposite Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. The following year, she co-starred in the James Wan horror film Insidious. Starting in 2012, Barbara guest-starred in ABC's Once Upon a Time as the wicked and powerful Cora, the controlling mother of the Evil Queen.


Gallery of behind the scene stills released to promote the actor.

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