On this day in 1976, Carrie, a horror film starring Sissy Spacek and based on Stephen King’s 1974 best-selling first novel, opens in theaters around the United States. Directed by Brian De Palma, the film tells the story of high school outcast Carrie White, who uses her telekinetic powers to exact a violent revenge on her teenage tormenters on prom night. In addition to Spacek, who received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance in the title role, the film’s cast included Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen and a then relatively unknown John Travolta. Carrie became a classic of the horror genre and is considered by many critics to be one of the best big-screen adaptations of Stephen King’s work.
After Spacek’s big breakout performance in Carrie, the freckle-faced actress—born on December 25, 1949—went on to become one of Hollywood’s favorite leading ladies during the 1980s. She collected a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the country singer Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) and earned nominations in the same category for her work in Missing (1982), The River (1984) and Crimes of the Heart (1986). She scored her sixth Best Actress Oscar nod in 2002, for her portrayal of an anguished mother in Todd Field’s In the Bedroom (2001).
Carrie was also the first major box-office hit for director Brian De Palma, who was born on September 11, 1940. De Palma went on to helm a lengthy list of films, including Dressed to Kill (1980) with Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson, Scarface (1983) with Al Pacino, The Untouchables (1987) with Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Robert De Niro, Carlito’s Way (1993) with Pacino and Mission: Impossible (1996), with Tom Cruise.
Following the success of Carrie—in print and on the big screen—Stephen King, who was born on September 21, 1947, eventually became one of America’s best-known and top-selling authors. Much of the prolific Maine native’s work has been adapted for television and film, including The Shining (1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson; Stand by Me (1986), directed by Rob Reiner and starring River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman and Wil Wheaton; Misery (1990), also directed by Reiner and featuring Kathy Bates and James Caan; The Shawshank Redemption (1994), with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins; Dolores Claiborne (1995), with Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh; and The Green Mile (1999), with Tom Hanks.