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Vassar Grad Meryl Steep Racks Up 20th Oscar Nomination

New Jersey native Meryl Streep just racked up her 20th Oscar nod for her turn in "Florence Foster Jenkins." The actress, singer and writer studied drama at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie.
New Jersey native Meryl Streep just racked up her 20th Oscar nod for her turn in "Florence Foster Jenkins." The actress, singer and writer studied drama at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. Photo Credit: usbotschaftberlin via flickr

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Believe it or not, actress Meryl Streep wasn’t all that interested in serious theater until she trod the boards as a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie.

Streep, who just picked up her 20th Academy Awards nomination for her role as the splendiferously off-key amateur opera singer and socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, had performed in many plays while in high school in Bernardsville, N.J., where she grew up. (Mary Louise Streep, as she was known then, was born in Summit, N.J.)

But it wasn’t until she was cast in 1969 as the lead in “Miss Julie,” a dark drama by August Strinberg that deals with power in its various forms, that Streep really heeded the siren call of applause and audience adulation.

Her drama professors were also bowled over by Streep’s ability to mimic accents, a talent that has served her well through dozens of films, including “Sophie’s Choice,” where she played a Polish immigrant with a terrible secret, and “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” a British romantic drama.

Said Vassar professor, Clinton J. Atkinson, is oft quoted as saying no one ever “taught” Streep to act; she just had a natural talent for it.

Streep graduated cum laude from the college in 1971 and then went to the Yale School of Drama. She also was a visiting student at Dartmouth College, one of 60 co-eds who were attending the school while it was still all-male.

To pay the bills, she waitressed and did some typing.

But her workload, plus appearances in a dozen stage productions a year, took its toll.

Steep, stressed out and ailing from ulcers, thought seriously about quitting acting and taking up law.

However, much to the delight of her fans today, Streep hung in there, graduated and went on to win three Oscars and a massive number of awards and nominations for her stage and screen appearances.

Now 67, Streep leads in the number of Academy Award nods, this latest for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Only Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson have ever come close, with 12 apiece.

According to multiple media reports, Streep reacted by sending out a GIF of her kicking up her heels.

Steep also just won the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards for lifetime achievement.

She used her acceptance speech to lambaste one Bedford resident, President Donald J. Trump, for his campaign rhetoric and for making fun of a disabled reporter.

The perpetually tweeting commander-in-chief lost no time striking back, calling Streep “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood,” according to multiple media reports.

On Sunday, Feb. 26, when the folks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, parcel out the coveted golden statuettes in Los Angeles, Steep may get the chance to make Trump eat those words.

The 89th Academy Awards show is being hosted by comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

For the full list of nominees, click here.

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