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By this time, she had shed Carradine and her "Seagull" pseudonym.
Some of the "women roles" that followed The Stunt Man included the horror movie The Entity (1982); Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff (1983), in which she played Glennis Yeager, wife of test pilot Chuck Yeager; and The Natural (1984), in which she shot Robert Redford's character, inspired by a real-life incident where Ruth Ann Steinhagen shot ballplayer Eddie Waitkus.
She publicly acknowledged the desire to be recognized in her own right.
Later, in 1974, she did just that, winning a Gold Medal at the Atlanta Film Festival for her role in the Dutch-produced film Love Comes Quietly.
In the same year, she acted in the controversial drama Last Summer, which was based on Evan Hunter's eponymous novel.
In this film, Hershey played Sandy, the "heavy" who influences two young men (played by Bruce Davison and Richard Thomas) to rape another girl, Rhoda (played by Catherine Burns).
By that time, the Chicago Tribune referred to her as "one of America's finest actresses." Hershey won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries/TV Film for her role in A Killing in a Small Town (1990).
Her father, Arnold Herzstein, also appeared in Americana.Her career suffered a decline during a six-year relationship with actor David Carradine, with whom she had a child.She experimented with a change in stage name that she later regretted.Although Corman publicized it as an exploitation piece with plenty of sex and violence, Scorsese's influence made it "something much more." Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote of the film's direction, "Martin Scorsese has gone for mood and atmosphere more than for action, and his violence is always blunt and unpleasant—never liberating and exhilarating, as the New Violence is supposed to be." Hershey's experience with Scorsese was extended to another major role for her 16 years later in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) as Mary Magdalene.During the filming of Boxcar Bertha, Hershey had introduced Scorsese to the Nikos Kazantzakis novel on which the latter film was based. By the mid 1970s, Hershey concluded, "I've been so tied up with David [Carradine] that people have forgotten that I am me.
She was also featured in Woody Allen's critically acclaimed Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), for which she was nominated for the British Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Garry Marshall's melodrama Beaches (1988), and she earned a second British Academy Award nomination for Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010).