Christine Baranski

Active - 1980 - 2020  |   Born - May 2, 1952 in Buffalo, New York, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Designer label-clad force of nature, neurotic diva, and the owner of one of the most expansive mouths in the free world, Christine Baranski is one of the more distinctive actresses working on the stage and screen today. Known to television audiences for her portrayal of Cybill Shepard's brassy and unapologetically arrogant best friend on the sitcom Cybill, Baranski has also made a name for herself on the New York stage, where she has won a number of awards, and has worked as a character actress on a variety of films.

Born in Buffalo, New York, on May 2, 1952, Baranski was influenced from a young age by her Polish grandparents, who were both actors. After studying acting at Julliard, she began working on the New York stage and on various TV shows, and made her film debut in 1982. The stage proved to be a particularly good medium for Baranski's talents; a staple of many New York productions, the actress earned Tony Awards and a number of other honors for her work in the Broadway productions of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and Neil Simon's Rumors.

Usually cast as a supporting player onscreen, Baranski has done particularly notable work in Jeffrey (1995), in which she played a New York socialite; The Birdcage (1996), which featured her as the brassy mother of Robin Williams' grown son; and Cruel Intentions (1999), in which she did another hilarious turn as a New York socialite. In one of her rare excursions as a lead, Baranski gave a memorable performance as a struggling actress in Bowfinger (1999), sharing the screen with the likes of Steve Martin, Heather Graham, and Eddie Murphy.

In 2002 Baranski appeared in the Best Picture Oscar winner Chicago, and she continued to work steadily on TV, in movies, and on stage appearing in projects as diverse as Eloise at the Plaza, Welcome to Mooseport, and the smash hit adaptation of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! In 2009 she began work on the well-respected CBS drama series The Good Wife opposite Julianna Margulies.

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  • Was introduced to theater at a young age by her Polish grandparents, both actors.
  • While at Juilliard, was awarded $1000 for being "the most hard-working economically needy student" in her class, and instead of putting the money toward living expenses, used it to travel for two months through Europe.
  • Made her Broadway debut in 1980's Hide and Seek, which closed after only five previews and eight performances.
  • First film appearance was a cameo role in 1982's Soup for One.
  • Had an uncredited role in the 1999 CBS sitcom Now and Again as the voice of Roger's domineering wife, Ruth, whom the audience never saw.
  • Stage musical roles at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, include that of  Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (2002) and the titular aunt in Mame (2006).
  • Received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Banff World Media Festival.