Martha Coolidge began her career in her native Connecticut as a stage actress appearing with a local theater company. While attending the Rhode Island School of Design, she began to make films and found her true calling, turning out six student films. After further studies at NYC’s School of Visual Arts and at Columbia University, she landed her first professional gig as a writer and producer of the Canadian daily children’s show Magic Tom. Returning to the USA, Coolidge went on to direct the award-winning documentaries David: On and Off (1972) and Old Fashioned Woman (1974). Coolidge broke into Hollywood as a screenwriter receiving credit for contributing to the spy comedy The Omega Connection (1979).
Her directorial debut, Valley Girl, (1983) quickly established her as one to watch. With her growing reputation as an actor’s director, Coolidge helmed Real Genius (1985), which featured a star-making turn by Val Kilmer. Further adding to her reputation was Rambling Rose (1991), which earned the mother and daughter team of Diane Ladd and Laura Dern Oscar nominations. In 1999 Coolidge earned an Emmy nomination for directing the acclaimed Dorothy Dandridge biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Coolidge continues to work in television and film.