Streep, who grew up in Bernardsville, New Jersey, was Bernards High's homecoming queen in 1967.
After graduating from Vassar, Streep studied drama in Yale's MFA program, where her roles included Helena in this 1975 production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Streep in Joseph Papp's 1978 production of "The Taming of the Shrew" in New York's Central Park.
That same year, Streep co-starred in "The Deer Hunter," opposite Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken. It was her second film role (her screen debut was in 1977's "Julia.")
After living with fellow actor John Cazale for three years, until his death in March 1978, Streep married sculptor Don Gummer the following fall. They are still married.
On a rainy day in her Manhattan neighborhood, in 1979.
Arriving for the 51st Academy Awards on April 9, 1979. Streep had been nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for "The Deer Hunter."
In 1979's "Manhattan," Streep played Woody Allen's lesbian ex-wife, Jill.
After the release of "The Seduction of Joe Tynan" (1979), Streep admitted she'd played the role "on automatic pilot" because of her grief over John Cazale's still recent death.
Streep won her first Academy Award in 1980, for "Kramer vs. Kramer." Co-star Dustin Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor.
In 1981's "The French Lieutenant's Woman." Guess what—she was nominated for Best Actress.
In a 1981 photo by Annie Leibovitz, from a Rolling Stone cover shoot.
Leibovitz: "[Streep] talked about how she didn't want to be anyone, she was nobody, just an actress. I suggested that she didn't have to be anybody in particular and maybe she would like to put on white face … to be a mime. This put her at ease. She had a role to play."
In 1982's "Still of the Night." Three decades later, when talk show host Andy Cohen asked her to "name one bad film that you have made," Streep singled out this one.
Streep racked up another Academy Award nomination for her performance opposite Robert Redford in 1985's "Out of Africa." She currently holds the record of most-nominated actor, with 19 Oscar nominations.
Photographed by Brigitte Lacombe for the December 1988 issue of Interview, when Streep was promoting "A Cry in the Dark."
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