Naval Officer Zack Mayo took factory worker Paula into his arms and whisked her from her employment in a classic romance, leaving people everywhere dreaming they were the gorgeous Debra Winger.
The iconic sequence in the romance classic An Officer and a Gentleman–in which Richard Gere played Officer Zack Mayo, the attractive hero in navy whites–became the standard for daydreaming fans.
Debra Winger was the envy of many when she was cast with Hollywood’s sexiest guys.
Winger, 67, is still as stunning as ever. Winger has been posting images of herself on Instagram for the past few years, initially with brown hair and now with a natural wavy gray.
Winger’s first big role was in the 1976 film Slumber Party ’57, which led to a role in the blockbuster TV series Wonder Woman (1979), where she played Drusilla, the younger sister of Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Winger was invited to appear more frequently, but she rejected, fearing she would be typecast by the character.
There were no second thoughts about that decision; the early 1980s would be fruitful for the emerging star.
At the height of her youthful career, she got multiple Academy and Golden Globe nominations for her performances in three legendary 1980s films.
In 1980, she co-starred in Urban Cowboy with John Travolta, who was then known for his smooth dance moves in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1988); as Paula in Officer and a Gentleman (1982); and as Emma in Terms of Endearment (1983), where she played Emma, a dying young woman with an overbearing mother, Aurora, played by Shirley MacLaine.
Despite her enormous success, Winger took a mini-Hollywood break, shaving hours from her acting schedule, and curiosity about why she quit persists more than four decades later.
The majority of these rumors concentrate around Winger’s feuds with her co-stars.
Though fans couldn’t get enough of Gere, it’s commonly claimed that Winger had had enough of him on set.
According to an excerpt from co-star Louis Gossett Jr.’s book, “An Actor and a Gentleman,” featured on ABC News: “The onscreen chemistry between the two of them was terrific, but it was a different story once the camera was turned off.” They couldn’t have been more far from one other.”
Gossett further states that Winger thought Gere’s performance was “a brick wall” and that she once characterized Gere as “a brick wall.” In addition, she referred to the film’s director, Taylor Hackford, as a “animal.”
It wasn’t just the characters in the film who ruffled her feathers.
Winger, a free spirit both in real life and as Emma, clashed with MacLaine, a glamorous, quirky, and seasoned veteran.
Their first meeting laid the groundwork for their future relationship.
“To see how my character would feel, I was wearing all my leftover movie-star fur coats,” MacLaine explained to People. “There was Debra, wearing combat boots and a miniskirt…”I thought to myself, ‘Oh my goodness.'”
“Indeed, the set became the source of Hollywood’s most relished rumors,” People says. Winger demanded first place. According to reports, one slugged the other.”
The women were then pitted against each other at the Oscars when both were nominated for best actress.
“I deserve this!” MacLaine declared in her acceptance speech as she accepted the prize.
Regardless of rumors, Winger claims she “paused” her career in Hollywood for personal reasons rather than professional ones.
“I wasn’t interested in the parts that were coming.” That was something I’d previously done or felt. I needed to be pushed. “My life challenged me more than the parts, so I threw myself into it wholeheartedly,” Winger told People.
Winger took a six-year sabbatical after appearing in the 1995 romcom Forget Paris with Billy Crystal.
At the time, she relocated to New York City and began dating actor Arliss Howard, whom she married in 1996. Gideon Babe, the couple’s son, was born in 1997, and she is the stepmother of Sam, Howard’s son from a previous marriage. She also has a biological kid, Noah Hutton, whom she had with her first husband, Timothy Hutton, from 1986 until 1990.
She resurfaced in the 2001 film Big Bad Love, directed and produced by her husband, who also co-starred with Winger and Rosanna Arquette, and her next production was the 2002 film Searching for Debra Winger. As the documentary’s director, Arquette seeks to explain why Winger left her career at its pinnacle.
Winger rose to prominence with appearances in Rachel Getting Married (2008) opposite Anne Hathaway, The Lovers (2017), and Kajillionaire (2020).
In 2021, she appeared in Volume 2 of the anthological drama film With/In, in the part Her Own, which was written and directed by her husband, who also co-starred.
“I’m not sure what Hollywood is.” I’m now living under the freaking sign, and all I can do is giggle at it. “Los Angeles is a place, but the concept of Hollywood doesn’t really exist for me,” Winger stated, adding, “…although there must be some in-crowds that I’m not aware of.”
We can’t fathom Hollywood without Debra Winger, and we hope she wins an Academy Award soon! Which Winger films are your favorites?