Texas native Judith Ivey studied acting at Illinois State University, and began her acting career in the same state shortly afterward; by 1974, Ivey had debuted in a Chicago production of The Sea, and would continue to build her resumé until her move to New York City in the late '70s. A series of on- and off-Broadway performances met her there, as did two Tony awards (the first for her largely nude performance in Steaming , and the second for her role as an abused go-go dancer in Hurlyburly ). Known for her Southern charm and distinctive, rather nasal, voice, Ivey could be seen in film roles throughout the 1980s, appearing alongside Steve Martin in The Lonely Guy, Paul Newman in the family drama Harry and Son, Gene Wilder in The Woman in Red, and in the role of the outspoken best friend of Susan Sarandon in Compromising Positions (1985). The actress also found a great deal of success on the small screen -- Ivey starred in television productions of The Long, Hot Summer (1985), Dixie: Changing Habits (1985), We Are the Children (1987), and Decoration Day (1990) before landing several prominent sitcom roles. In 1991, Ivey returned to her Texas roots for NBC's Down Home, though she found more success playing wealthy widow B.J. Poteet on the final season of the long-running sitcom Designing Women (also NBC). Though Ivey continued to make regular appearances on television (including a performance on the Emmy-winning series Frasier), she found moderate success in several films. In 1997, Ivey played the well-to-do mother of Celine (Cameron Diaz) in Danny Boyle's A Life Less Ordinary; the same year, she would play supporting roles in Washington Square and The Devil's Advocate with Al Pacino. After appearing in several inconsequential films throughout the late '90s, Ivey was featured in Rose Red, Stephen King's popular television miniseries. In 2003, she had a prominent role in the independant film What Alice Found, which won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. She could next be seen alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth McGovern, and Peter Sarsgaard in 2004's In God's Hands.