Swoosie Kurtz

Active - 1977 - 2018  |   Born - Sep 6, 1944 in Omaha, Nebraska, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama, Romance

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Whether on stage, screen, or television, award-winning supporting, character, and occasional leading actress Swoosie Kurtz has the rare gift of stealing almost every scene in which she appears. The daughter of a U.S. Air Force colonel, she was named after her father's WWII plane, which in turn was named after a popular Kay Kyser song. Following college, Kurtz studied drama in London and gained early experience during the late '60s, appearing in regional theater back in the States. In New York, Kurtz won an Obie for an off-Broadway production of The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon-Marigolds. Her success in this part led to a stage career that resulted in her winning such major New York theater awards as a Tony and a Drama Desk award. Kurtz made her Hollywood debut in the TV soap As the World Turns, playing Ellie Bradley, in 1971. She did not make her feature-film debut until she landed a role in the box-office flop First Love (1977). She next appeared in Slapshot (1977) and then in another stinker, Oliver's Story (1978). In 1982, Kurtz had her first real success in films playing a prostitute in the critically acclaimed adaptation of John Iriving's The World According to Garp.

Through the 1980s, Kurtz appeared in major films in ventures ranging from Against All Odds (1984) to Dangerous Liaisons (1989) and on television in films like A Caribbean Mystery (1983) and The Image (1989). Kurtz has also had success in television series such as the short-lived Love, Sydney (1981), for which she won an Emmy, and a starring role in the long-running Sisters(1991-1996), playing eldest sibling Alex Reed Halsey. Notable movie appearances from the '90s include a turn as a crusading lesbian in Citizen Ruth (aka Meet Ruth Stoops) (1996) and a small but fun part as an exasperated lawyer taking on a crazy Jim Carrey in Liar Liar (1997). Frequently alternating between television and film in the years to follow, Kurtz would build an impressive body of work with memorable roles in such television mini-series as More Tales from the City (1998) and films including Cruel Intentions (1999) and Get Over It (2001). Her turn as a paranoid overprotective mother in Bubble Boy (2001) found Kurtz utilizing her comic talents to maximum effect, and after returning to the small screen for that same year's The Wilde Girls, the talented actress joined the cast of Roger Avary's satirical teen drama The Rules of the Game (2002). She appeared in the black comedy Duplex, then found success on the small screen with roles on Huff and Lost, finally being cast in a major role in Bryan Fuller's cult favorite Pushing Daisies.

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  • Father won an Olympic bronze medal for diving in 1932.
  • Named after "The Swoose," a plane that her father, a decorated Air Force Colonel, piloted during WWII.
  • Developed an interest in acting in high school after delivering a monologue performed by Bette Davis in the movie Dark Victory.
  • Television acting debut was playing Ellie Bradley on As the World Turns in 1971.
  • Awarded Broadway's "Triple Crown" (the Tony, Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle Award) for her role as Gwen in Lanford Wilson's The Fifth of July in 1981.
  • Appeared in both Dangerous Liaisons in 1988 and the remake Cruel Intentions in 1999.
  • Played the eye-patched, agoraphobic, ex-synchronized swimmer Lily Charles on the whimsical and critically acclaimed but short-lived Pushing Daisies.