The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Winona Ryder

b. October 21, 1971

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Winona Ryder until we are able to commission a full entry.

Winona Ryder in 2009. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Winona Ryder’s capacity to depict quirky characters with empathy made her a cinematic icon for outsiders throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Born Winona Laura Horowitz, Ryder began studying acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco at age twelve, in 1983. Three years later, she made her film debut in Lucas, but her career took off in 1988 with two blockbuster movies, Beetlejuice and Heathers. Over the next ten years she performed in seventeen movies, including Mermaids; Edward Scissorhands; Reality Bites; Little Women; and Girl, Interrupted, playing social misfits whose struggles reflected the frustrations of Generation X. Girl, Interrupted also served as her debut as an executive producer. Despite her struggles with depression and the negative publicity of a 2001 arrest for shoplifting, Ryder continued working steadily, appearing in at least one movie every year throughout the 2000s and 2010s. In 2016 she reignited her popularity with Stranger Things, a wildly successful science fiction/horror series set in the 1980s, in which she plays Joyce Byers, whose determination to find her missing child makes her appear insane.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Winona Ryder." (Viewed on May 29, 2023) <>.


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