Grace Zabriskie

Active - 1979 - 2021  |   Born - May 17, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

To say that Grace Zabriskie has specialized in maternal roles is hardly adequate. Many of the mothers portrayed by Zabriskie in films and on TV are the sort of parents that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy: clinging, castrating, and constantly jabbering away about nothing in particular (to be fair, she has essayed a few benign, likeable moms). She has been prominently featured in such films as Norma Rae (1979), Drugstore Cowboy (1988), and The Big Easy (1989). Her TV work includes the roles of Laura Palmer's hysterical mother in Twin Peaks (1990) and the recurring part of Thada Duvall in the NBC daytimer Santa Barbara. Undoubtedly, Zabriskie's most bizarre screen assignment was her S&M sex scene in Chain of Desire (1991). As brash and outspoken as ever, Grace Zabriskie played Granny in first-time director Anjelica Huston's controversial Bastard out of Carolina (1996).

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Grew up in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where her father founded two cafés, one of which was frequented by Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.
  • Following college, moved to Atlanta, where she acted, painted and read her poetry in coffeehouses.
  • Made her feature debut in the 1979 drama Norma Rae
  • Played Laura Palmer's mother on the David Lynch series Twin Peaks; also appeared in the director's films Wild at Heart (1990) and Inland Empire (2006).
  • Other notable TV roles include Theda Bassett on the soap Santa Barbara and Susan Ross' mother on several episodes of Seinfeld.
  • Returned to the small screen in 2006 as a series regular on the HBO drama Big Love.
  • Collaborates with her daughter, Marion Lane, on creating  "functional art," including boxes, lamps and sculptures.
  • Published a book of her poetry, simply titled Poems, in 2010.