Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
April 29
Uma Thurman April 29, 1970
Uma Thurman born

It has become almost predictable for some of the most beautiful actresses in the world to talk about their "awkward" childhoods, but for Uma Thurman, born on this day in 1970, it is definitely not just empty words. Thurman is the daughter of Nena von Schlebrügge, a former model who was previously married to LSD guru Timothy Leary (after they were introduced by Salvador Dalí), and Dr. Robert Thurman, a Tibetan Buddhist scholar who became the first Westerner to be ordained as a Buddhist monk. Buddhism was a central part of life in the decidedly offbeat Thurman household: the children were all given Eastern names - Uma Karuna, Ganden, Dechen and Mipam, and they spent part of their upbringing in the Indian town of Almora, where the Dalai Lama would sometimes visit them. There, the Thurman kids' names were not unusual, but they mostly grew up in Amherst and Woodstock, where having a name like Uma Karuna was an invitation to ridicule. (Thurman would later give her middle name as Karen.) Physically, Thurman also stood out. Now a statuesque actress, then she was a tall, gangly girl with enormous feet (she is a size 11 shoe) who was mocked by her schoolmates because of her size and suffered from body dysmorphia disorder. As with so many others who grew up feeling uncomfortable about themselves, she found an escape in acting. At the age of only 15, Thurman moved to New York to attend the specialty stage school Professional Children's School, determined she would make it as an actress. At the same time, she began modeling and her striking appearance got her noticed for movie work too. In 1988, at the age of 18, Thurman was a high school dropout who had four movies coming out that year, including her memorable turn as Venus De Milo in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and her breakout performance in Dangerous Liaisons.


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