Pamela Reed

Active - 1978 - 2018  |   Born - Apr 2, 1949 in Tacoma, Washington, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Although her earthy and somewhat plain appearance might have prevented her from landing the sort of glamorous parts Hollywood seems to reserve for A-list beauty queens, actress Pamela Reed still managed to maintain a healthy career with a series of winning supporting roles. A Washington native who spent the majority of her childhood in Maryland, Reed moved back to the Northwest for an opportunity to work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. There, she began to study drama at the University of Washington, where she stood out amongst her classmates due to her age (she was nearly 30 when she graduated and began seeking out roles in New York and L.A.). She later appeared off-Broadway in Curse of the Starving Class and impressed audiences with her performance in Aunt Dan and Lemonand her skillful interpretation of Shakespeare in All's Well That Ends Well. In 1978, Reed made her Broadway debut in a production of The November People. With a solid stage resumé, the actress moved to the screen in Walter Hill's 1980 Western The Long Riders. Reed could bring style and depth to even the most threadbare of roles, and in the years that followed, she made a name for herself by essaying key supporting parts in such films as Eyewitness (1981) and The Right Stuff (1983); though her characters rarely broke the mold of supportive wife/girlfriend, her performances were always graceful and believable.

Reed took a turn toward the small screen with a role in the 1990 comedy series Grand, and alternated frequently between film and television for the remainder of the decade. From her scene-stealing turn alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop (1990) to her performance as a housewife with a history in the made-for-TV mystery Woman With a Past, Reed proved equally adept at both comedy and drama. Following a memorable role in Tim Robbins' 1992 political satire (and directorial debut) Bob Roberts, the actress returned to television in 1995 for the short-lived comedy series The Home Court. She built a sturdy fan base of Lifetime viewers with such made-for-cable features as The Man Next Door (1995), and continued to appear in such hit features as Bean (1997) and Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998). Reed later starred in the 2000 blockbuster Proof of Life, and appeared in the small-screen drama Book of Days (2003) and Glory Days in 2004.

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  • Her childhood ambition was to become an airline stewardess.
  • Helped pay for college by working as a cook's helper on the Alaska pipeline, north of the Arctic Circle.
  • In 1979 won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Marsha Norman's Getting Out; received an OBIE Award in 1984 for "sustained excellence of performance" in theater.
  • Her film debut was portraying Old West outlaw Belle Starr in 1980's The Long Riders.
  • Won a 1988 Cable ACE Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for Tanner '88.
  • Her future husband, Sandy Smolan, directed her in the 1987 feature Rachel River.