Publicity notwithstanding, Lesley Ann Warren did not exactly burst fully grown into the world in 1966 to star in the Rodgers and Hammerstein TV special Cinderella. Trained at New York's Professional Children's School, Lesley Ann studied under Lee Strasberg before making her Broadway debut in 110 in the Shade, the 1964 musical version of The Rainmaker. On the strength of Cinderella, Lesley Ann was signed to a Disney contract; but after starring in The Happiest Millionaire (1966) and The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band, she rebelled against her studio-imposed sweetness-'n'-light image. Upon replacing Barbara Bain in the long-running espionage TVer Mission: Impossible in 1970, Warren publicly emphasized that her character, Dana Lambert, was a "now" person, wise in the ways of sex. She stayed with Mission for only a year, after which she established herself as a leading light in the made-for-TV movie field, frequently cast as an older woman involved romantically with a much-younger man. She earned an Academy Award nomination for her hilarious performance as bleach-blond gangster's moll Norma in Victor/Victoria (1981), then starred in a couple of intriguing Alan Rudolph-directed dramas, Choose Me (1984) and The Songwriter (1986). Her more recent roles include Molly, the homeless woman in Mel Brooks' Life Stinks(1991), who goes into a "death throes" act whenever she feels like it, and the barracuda booking agent for c-and-w star George Strait in Pure Country (1994). For nearly a decade, Lesley Ann Warren was the wife of producer/hairstylist Jon Peters.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Made Broadway debut as the ingenue Snooky in the 1963 musical 110 in the Shade.
- At 17, became the then-youngest student accepted by the Actors Studio.
- Role as Cinderella in 1965 led to Walt Disney signing her for movie debut in 1967's The Happiest Millionaire.
- Tested for role of Liesl, the oldest daughter, in The Sound of Music.
- Best-remembered movie role was as James Garner's ditsy girlfriend in Victor/Victoria, for which she received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
- Played Lois Lane in It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman (1975), an obscure TV adaptation of the 1966 Broadway musical, and though she was one of many who auditioned for the part of Lane in the 1978 blockbuster Superman, the role went to Margot Kidder.