Meredith Baxter

Active - 1972 - 2013  |   Born - Jun 21, 1947 in South Pasadena, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The daughter of actress Whitney Blake, Meredith Baxter received extensive training in the arts at the Interlochen Summer Camp in Michigan. Meredith worked as an usher, file clerk and cafeteria checker before getting her first film break in Ben (1971). The 5'7" blonde actress entered the "America's sweetheart" category when she was cast as Bridget Fitzgerald Steinberg, the prettier half of a Catholic-Jewish married couple, in the TV sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie (1972). While the series lasted only a year, her "reel" marriage became a "real" one when, in 1974, she wed her B Loves B co-star David Birney. In addition to yielding a new, hyphenated professional name for Meredith, her union with Birney produced three children before the couple divorced in the early 1990s (she also had two children from a previous marriage). In between stage appearances in such productions as Hamlet, Guys and Dolls and Butterflies are Free, Meredith played Nancy Lawrence Maitland on the TV dramedy Family, winning two Emmy nominations during her four-year (1976-80) stint with this series. In 1982, Meredith agreed to star as flower child-turned-suburban mom Elyse Keaton on the weekly TV comedy Family Ties, having been assured that she would be the star of the series in fact as well as in name. As it happened, Family Ties was dominated throughout its seven-year run by co-star Michael J. Fox. A prolific TV-movie actress, she owns the distinction of playing the same real-life character twice, with two entirely different interpretations. When she first played accused murderess Betty Broderick in 1992's A Woman Scorned, Meredith was sympathetic to Broderick's plight, and played the role accordingly (earning an Emmy nomination in the process); but by the time 1993's Her Final Fury rolled around, Meredith, like everyone else involved in the project, was convinced that Betty Broderick deserved what she got--and played the role in the manner of a Gothic Novel villainess. A made-for-TV movie fixture over the course of the next decade, Baxter remained a familiar face on the small screen thanks to appearances in such popular shows as The Closer and Cold Case, later showing her playful side with voice work in such animated series' as Family Guy and Dan Vs. A breast-cancer survivor, she received a public-awareness award from the National Breast Cancer Coalition for starring in and coproducing the 1994 drama My Breast.

Movie Highlights

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  • Made feature-film debut in the 1972 thriller Ben.
  • Played the role of a young adoptee in search of her biological mother in the 1974 made-for-TV drama The Stranger Who Looks Like Me; her real-life mother, Whitney Blake, was cast as her on-screen birth mom.
  • Starred opposite then-husband David Birney in the CBS movie The Long Way Home (1987).
  • A breast-cancer survivor, she received a public-awareness award from the National Breast Cancer Coalition for starring in and coproducing the 1994 drama My Breast.
  • Developed Meredith Baxter Skin Care Products.
  • Spearheaded the Meredith Baxter Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.