Who is Uma Thurman?
By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Uma was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 29, 1970, Uma
Karuna Thurman (named after a Hindu deity that means "bestowed of
blessings") spent her childhood in Amherst, Massachusetts, because
her father worked at Amherst College. She grew up in an eccentric,
Her father, Robert A.F. Thurman, was a professor who taught
Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. Her mother,
Nena Thurman, was a Swedish model-turned-psychotherapist who was
once married to LSD proponent Timothy Leary. Uma is the
granddaughter of Baron Karl von Schlebrugg (maternal grandparent;
jailed by Nazis in WWII for not betraying Jewish business partners),
Brigit Holmquist (maternal grandparent; famous Swedish beauty who
posed for a statue in Trelleborg) and Elizabeth Farrar (actress;
Her uncle, John Thurman, is a professional concert cellist who
performs with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Uma has three
brothers: Dechen Thurman, Mipam Thurman, and Ganden Thurman.
Thurman confronted childhood with an odd name and eccentric home
life, and nature seemingly conspired against her as well. Six feet
tall, from an early age she towered over everyone else in class. Her
famously large feet would soon sprout to size 11. She wore the
biggest shoes in class, which only provided another subject of
ridicule. Even her long nose moved one of her mother's friends to
helpfully suggest rhinoplasty -- to the ten-year-old Thurman. To
make matters worse, the family constantly relocated, making the
gangly, socially inept Thurman the new kid in class. The result was
a awkward, self-conscious, lonely and alienated childhood.
Young Uma Thurman attended Northfield Mount Herman School in
Northfield, Massachusetts and Amherst Regional Junior High School in
Amherst, Massachusetts. She also studied at the Professional
Children's High School in New York.
Uma thrived at acting in school plays. This interest, and her
lanky frame, perfect for modeling, led Thurman to New York City for
modeling work (including a layout in Glamour Magazine) as she sought
acting roles. The roles soon came, starting with a few forgettable
Hollywood products, but immediately followed by Terry Gilliam's The
Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and Stephen Frears' Dangerous
Liaisons (1988), both brought much attention to her unorthodox
sensuality and performances that combined innocence and worldliness.
The weird, gangly girl became a sex symbol virtually overnight.
Thurman continued to be offered good roles in Hollywood pictures
into the early '90s, the least commercially successful but probably
best-known, was her smoldering, adult performance as June, Henry
Miller's wife, in Henry & June (1990).
Uma was brilliant as Mia Wallace, that most unorthodox of all
gangster's, in Quentin Tarantino's hugely successful Pulp Fiction
(1994), a role for which Thurman received an Academy Award
Thurman starred in arty independents such as A Month by the Lake
(1995), supporting roles in which she has lent some glamorous
presence to a mixed batch of movies such as Batman & Robin (1997),
and her role as a martial arts assassin in Tarantino's controversial
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), a grueling
stretch for Thurman which proved her game for virtually any acting
Thurman had been briefly married to actor Gary Oldman, from 1990
to 1992. In 1998, she married Ethan Hawke, her co-star in the
offbeat futuristic thriller Gattaca (1997). The couple had two
children, Levon and Maya Hawke. Thurman filed for divorce from Hawke