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"The Shining" Twins

Updated on March 6, 2015
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Come Play with the Grady Twins - For Ever and Ever

Iconic Images from "The Shining"

Here's all you need to know about the Grady twins, from their real names to what they are doing now, how they looked on screen and perhaps on whom they were modelled. There are also some ideas for how to make your own scary appearance as a Grady Twin at Halloween - costume ideas are at the bottom of the page!

Stanley Kubrick's 1980 screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel "The Shining" is consistently voted one of the scariest films of all time. It's a claustrophobic psychological horror story taking place almost entirely inside the menacing Overlook Hotel, a malevolent entity which gradually overcomes writer Jack Torrance and uses him for its own evil ends.

There are a number of iconic images from the film. Perhaps the most famous is that of Jack Torrance's (Jack Nicholson) manic leer through the gap he has just hacked in the bathroom door. Other enduring images are a torrent of blood bursting through the open elevator doors, little Danny Torrance pedalling along long, empty hotel corridors on his tricycle and of course, the Twins. In actual fact, these are Kubrick's images, not King's. Nonetheless, the Twins are definitely one of the most memorable features of "The Shining" film.

The Real Life Twins from "The Shining"

Lisa and Louise Burns had a very short acting career; this was their only role and it was a very short one too. What they lacked in screen time they certainly made up for with impact.

The twins were born in 1968 and were 12 years old when their scenes were shot. Louise is apparently the elder of the girls, born 11 minutes before her sister. The sisters put acting behind them, Louise becoming a microbiologist whilst Lisa studied Literature.

The Grady Twins in "The Shining"

The Grady girls aren't actually twins in the novel, but are described as the daughters of a former caretaker, Charles Grady. Stuart Ullman, the hotel manager, says that the girls were about "8 or 10". The sisters were murdered when their father lost his mind and slaughtered his family. The girls don't actually make an appearance in the novel; the well-known shot of them at the end of the corridor is an invention of Kubrick's.

Kubrick chose real life twins to play the sisters and they appear dressed alike, so they are generally referred to as the "Grady Twins". The girls were Lisa and Louise Burns whose roles in the film marked their first and last movie roles.

The twins appear only to Danny Torrance. We meet them when Danny cycles around a corner into a corridor with blue rose-clad wallpaper. Danny comes to a sudden stop, his eyes filled with fear. There, at the end of the corridor, are two little girls, dressed identically in pale blue dresses and holding hands. They speak to Danny softly and in unison, inviting him to come and play with them - for ever and ever. Danny's image of the girls is interspersed with a more horrifying scene; their bodies, mutilated and bloody alongside an axe, lying in the same corridor. He stares at the vision before him for a few moments before covering his eyes with his hands.

Diane Arbus, Stanley Kubrick and The Twins

Many people have pointed out that the image of the Twins standing in the corridor has echoes of Diane Arbus' famous 1967 photograph "Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey" which portrayed the 7 year old Wade twins, Cathleen and Colleen.

Kubrick's widow has said that he did not intentionally reference the photograph, but Kubrick not only knew Arbus, but studied photography under her.

The Shining Twins Halloween Costume

The Twins are instantly recognisable so would make quite an impact at Halloween. Here's what you need for a costume:

  • A friend
  • Two pale blue dresses. In the film they have Peter Pan collars, short puff sleeves and a frill at the bottom of the skirt. Collar, sleeves and hem are trimmed with white lace.
  • (An "Alice in Wonderland" costume - see right - could easily be adapted, leave off the apron)
  • Two lengths of white ribbon and four medium-sized pink silk roses (for the waist sashes)
  • Two pairs of white knee length socks
  • Two pairs of flat black Mary-Jane type shoes
  • Two white barrettes/hair slides
  • Shoulder length medium brown hair, parted to the side.

Having problems finding a costume? Try this link for a custom-made Grady Twin outfit.

Comments

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  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 3 years ago from UK

    Hi grand old lady - so much eeriness in the film! Thanks for reading :-)

  • grand old lady profile image

    Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

    I don't read Stephen King bit maybe I should start reading him now. The end was quite eerie when the boy talked to his finger.

  • Judi Bee profile image
    Author

    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi Rachael - my daughter and I look alike too, and one day, I hope, we'll try this out too. If you do try it out, have fun!

  • RachaelLefler profile image

    Rachael Lefler 4 years ago from Illinois

    That is an interesting idea for a costume. Everyone's always telling me about how much I resemble my mother, maybe this costume could be a good one for us to do together!

  • Judi Bee profile image
    Author

    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi Mr Deltoid - I shall look out for the film by Rob Ager. I have never actually watched all of Barry Lyndon - don't know why, but I've only ever seen bits of it. I've not read the book either (again, don't know why, because I really like Vanity Fair - read it a few times). So - I think you had better do the Barry Lyndon hub!

    Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, it's appreciated.

  • Mr Deltoid 1966 profile image

    Rich 4 years ago from New Jersey

    Great hub, I could talk The Shining, all day (and Kubrick). there is a film that can easily be found online by Rob Ager, on sublimianl themes (Not the moonlanding) in The Shining, that is worth seeing (if you have not already)......... you should do a hub on Barry Lyndon.

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi Michele - you're way ahead of me - no costume and no candy yet!

    Thanks very much for your comment, much appreciated.

  • Michele Travis profile image

    Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

    Very interesting hub. I saw the movie years ago and had not thought about the twins until now.

    Voted up ( even though I already have my costume and a whole bunch of candy to pass out!)

  • Judi Bee profile image
    Author

    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi Susan - I don't recall seeing it on the TV over here for ages - maybe it will be put on for Halloween!

    Hi Audrey - yes, it really is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of movie.

    Hi Laura - I do like Jack - he is so charismatic yet so scary - a real bad boy.

    Thanks for all your comments ladies, always appreciated.

  • LauraGSpeaks profile image

    LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

    ooooh, that was a great movie. It still scares the bejeebers out of me every time I watch it! Its one of my all time favorite Jack movies! I had forgotten all about the twins.

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

    This is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen--great hub!

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I enjoyed both the movie and the book. I'm pretty sure they're showing The Shining on one of the TV channels this week, and I hope to watch it. For me it's one of those movies I can watch time and time again.

  • gail641 profile image

    Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

    Your welcome. The Shining was a great movie and still is. I never get tired of watching it.

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi Janis - I don't like the gory slasher type horror movies, but The Shining works on a couple of different levels for me. There are the ghosts and the paranormal, but also the tense psychological drama too. It is scarily good!

    Thanks for your comments, always appreciated!

  • Janis Goad profile image

    Janis Goad 4 years ago

    I couldn't watch this movie. I saw glimpses at the start, but got so spooked I had to leave the house. Never got back to it. I never liked horror as a genre, don't like to put those ideas in my head. Lots of people do, though!

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi GoodLady - now that's an idea - dress as the hotel itself! Brilliant!

    Thanks so much for your comments, appreciated as always!

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

    I've never managed to get to the end of the movie, ever! So horribly scary. Interesting movie minutiae you have here. I think I'd dress as the hotel actually, put a massive mansion on my head, Halloween is so absurd!

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi justgrace1776 - no, but I've written a whole hub about the hotel, which includes the Stanley Hotel - and a bit about the maze too. Would love to visit all of the hotels used in the film!

  • justgrace1776 profile image

    justgrace1776 4 years ago

    Did you ever visit the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park? They talked about it on the tour. The scariest part for me was the garden chase in the snow!

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi gail641 - I should have included a poll - which was people's scariest part!

    Hi justgrace1776 - my other "Shining" hub (about the hotel) has more background on King and his feelings about the film. Glad you enjoyed reading this.

    Thanks to both of you, I appreciate your comments.

  • justgrace1776 profile image

    justgrace1776 4 years ago

    I like how you differentiated between the movie and the book. King was not happy with the movie. Thanks for the good read!

  • gail641 profile image

    Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

    Your welcome, yes, I thought the twins were one of the scariest parts, too. The woman in the bathtub was really scary, too.

  • Judi Bee profile image
    Author

    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi gail641 - yes, it's a scary film and the Twins are one of the scariest parts. Glad you found this interesting.

    Thanks so much for commenting, much appreciated!

  • gail641 profile image

    Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

    I love to watch, "The Shining!" The scene with the twins was really scary. They sure did make a big impact. Very interesting hub.

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi jmartin1344 - for the amount of time the Twins are on screen, they certainly make a big impact! I've never seen a movie at a drive-in - it's something I've always wanted to do, but never managed.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!

  • jmartin1344 profile image

    jmartin1344 4 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

    Nice hub Judi Bee.

    The Shining is one of my favorite movies of all time and as great as Jack's iconic scenes are "The Twins" were definitely the most memorable and chilling aspect of the film! As a kid they caused many a sleepless night!

    I went to see the film at a drive-in a few years ago and for some reason they're even scarier outside!

  • Judi Bee profile image
    Author

    Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

    Hi Pete - thanks for the information!

  • profile image

    Pete 4 years ago

    The scenes in which the twins appear were shot in the autumn of 1978, so the girls were 10, not 12.

  • Judi Bee profile image
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    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

    Hi tillsontitan - I just checked the poll voting on my other "Shining" hub and a slight majority agree with you - the book is better than the film. I am bound not to agree - I couldn't have written this hub without the film!

    Thanks for your comments, always great to hear from you.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

    Interesting hub. I was a fan of the book but not overly impressed with the movie. Never thought of using the 'twins' as a Halloween costume. Very original.

    Voted up.

  • Judi Bee profile image
    Author

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

    Hi Patty - I am fascinated by the film especially. I really enjoyed writing my first "Shining" hub (about the hotel location) and have been trying to think of another angle for months then this idea struck me a few nights ago. Couldn't find any copyright free photos though, which was a shame.

    Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it very much!

  • Patty Kenyon profile image

    Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

    Interesting Hub!! I love the movie as well as the book!!