Meryl Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television and film. Streep is the daughter of Mary Wolf, a commercial artist and former art editor, and Harry William Streep, Jr., a pharmaceutical executive. She has two brothers, Dana and Harry.
Her eighth great-grandfather, Lawrence Wilkinson, was one of the first Europeans to settle in Rhode Island. Streep is also a distant relative of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and records show her family were among the first purchasers of land in Pennsylvania. She grew up in New Jersey, where she attended Bernards High School. She received her B.A. in Drama at Vassar College in 1971. She subsequently earned an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama. While at Yale, she played a variety of roles onstage.
Streep performed in several theater productions in New York after graduating from Yale School of Drama, including the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure opposite Sam Waterston and John Cazale, who became her fiancé.
She starred on Broadway in the Brecht/Weill musical Happy End, and won an Obie for her performance in the all-sung off-Broadway production of Alice at the Palace.
Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with Julia. Both critical and commercial success came quickly with roles in The Deer Hunter (1978) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), the former giving Streep her first Oscar nomination and the latter her first win. She later won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Sophie's Choice (1982).
Streep has received 16 Academy Award nominations, winning two, and 25 Golden Globe nominations, winning seven, more nominations than any other actor in the history of either award. She was awarded the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
Meryl Streep was in a relationship with actor John Cazale until his death in March 1978. Streep married sculptor Don Gummer in 1978. They have four children.