Winona Ryder: Snapshot

Winona Ryder
Date of Birth
October 29, 1971
Birth Place
Winona, Minnesota
After making an indelible impression as a morose teen outcast in Beetlejuice, Winona Ryder became the dream girl of Gen X slackers with her starring turns in Heathers, Edward Scissorhands and Reality Bites. Her vulnerability and natural talent won over directors onscreen – and hunky actors (Johnny Depp, Matt Damon) offscreen.

But in 2001, the waifish beauty fell from her pedestal when she was caught stealing from Saks Fifth Avenue. The controversy exposed her psychological instability and extensive use of painkillers. Her much-publicized trial left a "Free Winona" T-shirt imprinted on pop culture.

After retreating from the spotlight for five years, the twice Oscar-nominated actress made buzzworthy turns as Spock's mom in Star Trek and a cracked prima ballerina in Black Swan before launching her leading lady comeback with The Iceman.

Winona Ryder: Five Fun Facts

  1. Winona Ryder says her natural hair color is actually blonde, but she's been dyeing it ever since she was asked to do so for her first film, Lucas, in 1986.
  2. In 1988, Winona Ryder's classmates at Petaluma High School taunted the 16-year-old for her role in the dark comedy Beetlejuice. "Those hick kids thought I was a witch," Ryder told Time in 1995.
  3. In 1997, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph Califano Jr. publicly referred to Winona Ryder as a negative role model for having done "more damage to young girls" than any other actress "because she smokes all the time in every movie she makes."
  4. When Winona Ryder was living with Johnny Depp in 1991, he once sent 200 packets of her favorite food, Oriental-flavored Ramen noodles, to her hotel room when she was away working on a film.
  5. Winona Ryder has an eclectic collection of old celebrity memorabilia – such as Louis Armstrong's signed bongo drums, Leslie Caron's dress from An American in Paris and Sandra Dee's bikini from the string of Tammy movies.

Winona Ryder: Biography


Winona Ryder

March 31

Heathers Breakout

The L.A. Times declares that Ryder is "Hollywood's hottest young heartthrob, heiress apparent to Molly Ringwald's teen throne" when she stars in the dark teen film Heathers (right). The movie quickly achieves cult-hit status with Ryder as teen murderess Veronica Sawyer. "As soon as we saw her onscreen, everybody immediately said: 'That girl is a movie star,'" director Michael Lehmann tells Los Angeles Magazine. Ryder confesses of her luck, "I never had to do the Hollywood thing, to move to L.A. and do commercials or sitcoms. That probably pisses people off. But I've worked really hard. I'm not going to apologize for not struggling."

Winona Ryder

Meeting Johnny Depp

Ryder works with director Tim Burton again as the empathetic Kim Boggs in the box-office hit Edward Scissorhands. While filming, Ryder begins dating costar Johnny Depp (left). "There's been nothing in my 27 years that's comparable to the feeling I have with Winona," Depp tells PEOPLE. The two move in together, become engaged in 1990, and Depp famously has "Winona Forever" tattooed on his upper right arm (he'll later alter it to "Wino Forever" after they call it quits after three years).


Winona Ryder

Winona's Mental Issues

After dropping out of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part III, Ryder checks into a psychiatric hospital after suffering from exhaustion, anxiety and depression. But she leaves the facility in less than two weeks. "I just realized that no matter how much money you pay," Ryder, who appears on a 1991 cover of Rolling Stone, says, "these places don't have the answers. Because there are no answers. You're just a human being, and you make a choice to go on with your life."

Read More on Winona Ryder's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Kobal Collection/Wireimage; Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Edited by Julia Wang

Winona Ryder

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