Adrienne Barbeau

Active - 1976 - 2021  |   Born - Jun 11, 1945 in Sacramento, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actress Adrienne Barbeau was encouraged by her mother to take dancing and singing lessons. Adrienne was active in theatre both in high school and at Foothills Junior College; by age 19 she was touring Pacific military bases as a member of the San Jose Light Opera. After an unprepossessing job with a termite-control company, Adrienne set out for New York, paying the bills with a variety of jobs including go-go dancing in New Jersey nightclubs. In 1968 she was cast as Hodel in the long-running Broadway production Fiddler on the Roof, and three years later was featured in Grease, winning a Tony nomination through her rendition of "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee." From here, Adrienne was hired by Norman Lear to replace first-choice actress Marcia Rodd in the role of the divorced daughter on the controversial TV sitcom Maude. She played the role from 1972 through the series' cancellation in 1978, after which she began a whole new career as a successful horror-film star and sexy pin-up model. Adrienne married film director John Carpenter in 1979; most of her subsequent screen appearances were in such Carpenter-directed terrors as The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981) and Creepshow (1982). Perhaps Adrienne Barbeau's most enjoyable performance was as the Marlon Brando counterpart (!) in an uproarious distaff parody of Apocalypse Now, sublimely titled Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989). Barbeau would continue to act over the coming decades, appearing on TV shows like The Drew Carey Show, Carnivale, and the soap General Hospital.

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  • First major role came in 1968, when she played Hodel in the original Broadway cast of Fiddler on the Roof.
  • Became known to TV audiences in the early '70s as Carol Traynor, the divorced daughter of Bea Arthur's character on the pioneering sitcom Maude.
  • Made her big-screen debut in 1980, when she starred in then-husband John Carpenter's The Fog; re-teamed with Carpenter a year later for the director's classic Escape From New York.  
  • Met her second husband, actor, playwright and producer Billy Van Zandt, in 1991, when she was cast in the West Coast premiere of his play Drop Dead!
  • Gave birth to identical twin boys at the age of 51. 
  • Released a folk album in 1998.
  • Penned a 2006 autobiography, There Are Worse Things I Could Do; it was followed in 2008 by her first novel, Vampyres of Hollywood, co-authored by Michael Scott.