A spiritual guru in great demand amid Hollywood circles throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Marianne Williamson drew a myriad of followers with her inspirational sermons that combined nondenominational Christian tenets with pop psychology and New Age exhortations. Williamson grew up as the daughter of a wealthy Texas attorney, and then (after a reported "wild youth") moved to Southern California and began to posit herself as a disciple of a text called A Course in Miracles, written not by herself but by a Jewish psychologist, Dr. Helen Schucman. Believing the book to have inherent value, Williamson (who discovered Schucman's writings in the late '70s) began teaching from the text at Los Angeles' Philosophical Research Society, while supporting herself as a temp. In time, her following grew meteorically, and she expanded into cassette tapes, books, and seminars that spanned two coasts, while netting celebrity friends including Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Ovitz, Penny Marshall, David Geffen, and -- most visibly -- Oprah Winfrey. Williamson also founded a series of ministries including The Angel Food Service, an organization that caters meals to AIDS-afflicted shut-ins.
Williamson soon extended her presence into the home-video market as well, where her instructional films (many based on her books) scored with buyers. These included A Course in Miracles: Exploring Spiritual Principles of Love & Wisdom (2000) and Marianne Williamson: Everyday Grace (2003). In 2007, Williamson participated alongside Elie Wiesel, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others in the spiritually themed documentary The Power of Forgiveness. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi