Penelope Spheeris  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Penelope Spheeris (born December 2, 1945) is an American director, producer, and screenwriter.

Life and work

Penelope Spheeris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Greek immigrant father who owned the Magic Empire Shows (Majick Empire). She spent her first seven years traveling around the American South and American Midwest with her father's carnival. She majored in film at UCLA in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, California.

Spheeris launched her career by producing short subjects for satirist Albert Brooks, many of them being highlights in the first season of the TV series Saturday Night Live. Her first auteur feature film was The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), a punk rock documentary that she wrote, produced, and directed. She followed up with The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years, this time about the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1988, with footage and interviews of legendary metal bands such as Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Megadeth and Motörhead.

She was also a writer for the TV series Roseanne (1988-1997).

In the 1990s, Spheeris directed Wayne's World, a comedy based on Mike Myers' skits from Saturday Night Live. The movie grossed an impressive $121 million and became a popular hit. Spheeris didn't direct the sequel.

She directed the TV-show-based comedies The Beverly Hillbillies and The Little Rascals (in which she co-wrote the screenplay), along with the Chris Farley comedy Black Sheep and the Marlon Wayans comedy Senseless.

Spheeris continues to direct. In 2005 she directed the Tom Arnold movie The Kid & I. Spheeris will return to rock drama: as of 2006 she is at work on Gospel According to Janis, about Janis Joplin.


  • Penelope is the sister of singer Jimmie Spheeris.
  • She is the first cousin of musician Chris Spheeris and the Greek-French director Costa Gavras, whom she says makes her consider that there is something to the genetic aspects to the job description.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Penelope Spheeris" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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