Adrienne Barbeau

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Adrienne Barbeau
Barbeau in June 2011
BornAdrienne Jo Barbeau
(1945-06-11) June 11, 1945 (age 69)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Occupationactress and writer
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)John Carpenter (1979–84)
Billy Van Zandt (1992–present)
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Adrienne Barbeau
Barbeau in June 2011
BornAdrienne Jo Barbeau
(1945-06-11) June 11, 1945 (age 69)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Occupationactress and writer
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)John Carpenter (1979–84)
Billy Van Zandt (1992–present)

Adrienne Jo Barbeau (born June 11, 1945) is an American actress and the author of three books. Barbeau came to prominence in the 1970s as Broadway's original Rizzo in the musical Grease, and as Carol Traynor, the divorced daughter of Maude Findlay (played by Bea Arthur) in the sitcom Maude. In the early 1980s, Barbeau was a sex symbol, starring in several horror and science fiction films, including The Fog, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, and Escape from New York. During the 1990s, she became known for providing the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series and subsequent Batman cartoon series. In the 2000s (decade), she appeared in the HBO series Carnivàle as Ruthie the snake dancer.

Early life[edit]

Barbeau was born and raised in Sacramento, California,[1] the daughter of Armene (née Nalbandian) and Joseph Barbeau, who was a public relations executive for Mobil Oil.[2] Her mother was of Armenian descent and her father's ancestry included French-Canadian, Irish, and German.[3] She has a sister, Jocelyn, and a half brother on her father's side, Robert Barbeau, who still resides in the Sacramento area.[4] She attended Del Mar High School in San Jose, California. In her autobiography, Barbeau says that she first caught the show business bug while entertaining troops at army bases throughout Southeast Asia, touring with the San Jose Civic Light Opera.


1960s to 1989[edit]

In the late 1960s, Barbeau moved to New York City and worked "for the mob"[4] as a go-go dancer. She made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof, and later took the role of Hodel, Tevye's daughter; Bette Midler played her sister. She left Fiddler in 1971 to play the leading role of Cookie Kovac in the off-Broadway nudie musical Stag Movie. Barbeau, as Cookie Kovac, and Brad Sullivan, as Rip Cord, were "quite jolly and deserve to be congratulated on the lack of embarrassment they show when, on occasion, they have to wander around stark naked. They may not be sexy but they certainly keep cheerful," wrote The New York Times theater critic Clive Barnes in an otherwise negative review.[5] Barbeau went on to star in more than 25 musicals and plays, including Women Behind Bars, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Grease. She received a Theater World Award and a 1972 Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of tough-girl Rizzo in Grease.

During the 1970s, Barbeau starred as Carol Traynor, the daughter of Be a Arthur's title character in the comedy series Maude, which ran from 1972 to 1978 (actress Marcia Rodd had originated the role of Carol in a 1972 episode of All in the Family, also titled "Maude", alongside Arthur). In her autobiography, There Are Worse Things I Could Do, Barbeau remarked: "What I didn't know is that when I said [my lines] I was usually walking down a flight of stairs and no one was even listening to me. They were just watching my breasts precede me." During the last season of Maude, Barbeau did not appear in the majority of the episodes. In a 2009 Entertainment Tonight TV interview, Barbeau mentioned that she had good on- and off-camera chemistry with Arthur; she said that the two stayed close until Arthur's death on April 25, 2009. Barbeau and Arthur reunited on camera during a 2007 taping of The View, reminiscing about their long-running friendship and their years as co-stars on Maude.

Regarding the character of Maude, Barbeau has said: "Thousands of people came up to me and said, 'I've got an aunt who's just like Maude, my mother is just like Maude.' I think many, many people related to Bea's character, in that way. There were others who found her too abrasive who didn't like the character, and that big woman with a low voice, saying those things." Regarding Bea Arthur's desire to entertain the audience of Maude, she said: "I at least was; and I'm sure that Bea was very proud of being something that was socially significant that was entertaining people, and making them laugh, at the same time, slipping her philosophy." Regarding Bea Arthur's decision to leave the show, Barbeau said: "I think she was tired, but I also knew she wanted to go out strong, yet, we were still in the Top 20, right through the sixth season, but I think she was probably feeling, 'How many more scripts are there'?, and you know, where we can be as good as we've been!" Of her overall experience on Maude, she said: "It was wonderful, all the way through, and so much of that was because of Bea, because, we had such a great group of people that we were working with, who, we were like a family." For more than 35 years, until Arthur's death in 2009, she and Barbeau continued to be good friends, long after the cancellation of Maude. The death of Arthur's mother in 1986 drew her and Barbeau even closer.

Barbeau was cast in numerous television films and shows such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Valentine Magic on Love Island, and Battle of the Network Stars. In her autobiography she claimed: "I actually thought CBS asked me to be on Battle of the Network Stars because they thought I was athletic. My husband clued me in: who cared if I won the race, as long as I bounced when I ran?"[4]

The popularity of Barbeau's 1978 cheesecake poster confirmed her status as a sex symbol. Barbeau's popularity stemmed partly from what critic Joe Bob Briggs referred to as the "two enormous talents on that woman",[6] and her typecasting as a "tough broad". Despite her initial success, she said at the time that she thought of Hollywood as a "flesh market", and that she would rather appear in films that "explore the human condition" and "deal with issues".[7]

Barbeau's then-husband, director John Carpenter, cast her in his 1980 horror film, The Fog, which was her first theatrical film appearance. The film was released in on February 1, 1980, and was a theatrical success, grossing over $21 million in the United States alone,[8] and establishing Barbeau as a genre film star. She subsequently appeared in a number of early-1980s horror and science fiction films, a number of which have now become cult film classics, including Escape from New York (also from Carpenter), Creepshow, and Swamp Thing. Of her screen work with Carpenter, Barbeau has stated: "John is a great director. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. It's simple and it's easy [working with him]."[9]

She also appeared in the high-grossing Burt Reynolds comedy The Cannonball Run (1981)—her character wins the race—and as the shrewish wife of Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School (1986). Barbeau also starred, alongside talk show host Bill Maher and Shannon Tweed, in the comedy Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989).

1990s – present[edit]

In the 1990s, Barbeau mostly appeared in made-for-television films such as Scott Turow's The Burden of Proof in 1992, as well as playing Oswald's mother on The Drew Carey Show and gaining new fame among animation fans as Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series and Gotham Girls. Coincidentally, Barbeau's on-screen son on The Drew Carey Show, Diedrich Bader, would go on to perform the voice of Batman on the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

She also worked as a television talk show host and a weekly book reviewer for KABC talk radio in Los Angeles. In 1999, she guest starred in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" as Romulan Senator Kimara Cretak. In 1994, she also appeared in the Babylon 5 episode "Spider in the Web" as Amanda Carter.

In 1998, Barbeau released her debut album as a folk singer, the self-titled Adrienne Barbeau. She starred in the cartoon series Totally Spies! doing the voice of villainess Helga Von Guggen in seasons 1, 2 and 4.

From 2003 to 2005, she starred in the HBO series Carnivàle. From March to May 2006, she starred as Judy Garland in the off-Broadway play The Property Known as Garland.[10]

Barbeau played a cameo role in Rob Zombie's Halloween, a "reimagining" of the 1978 film of the same name, written and directed by her first husband, John Carpenter. Her scene was cut from the theatrical version of the film but is included in the DVD version.

In 2009, Barbeau was cast as "The Cat Lady" in the family comedy The Dog Who Saved Christmas, as Scooter's Mom in the 3D animated feature Fly Me to the Moon and as a hospice patient in the love-story "Reach For Me" .[citation needed]

Also in 2009, Barbeau had guest spots in the first episode of Showtime's hit series Dexter (season 4), as well as on Grey's Anatomy.

She voiced the Greek goddess Hera in the video game God of War III released for the PlayStation 3 in March 2010. In August 2010, she began a role on the long-running ABC daytime drama General Hospital. In 2012, she voiced UNSC scientist Dr. Tilson in the highly anticipated game Halo 4, released on the Xbox 360 in November 2012.

She reprised her role as Catwoman in an animated remake of the third trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. This trailer was made to both celebrate the upcoming movie as well as to promote Hub's ten episode marathon of Batman: The Animated Series.

On October 22, 2013, she made a guest appearance on the FX series Sons of Anarchy.

Personal life[edit]

Barbeau was married to director John Carpenter from January 1, 1979 to 1984. The two met on the set of his 1978 TV movie, Someone's Watching Me!. The couple had a son, John Cody (born May 7, 1984) shortly before they separated. During their marriage, the couple remained "totally outside Hollywood's social circles".[7]

Barbeau married actor/playwright/producer Billy Van Zandt on December 31, 1992. The two met in 1991 when Barbeau was cast in the west coast premiere of his play, Drop Dead! Billy is the half-brother of musician/actor Steven Van Zandt. She gave birth to twin boys, Walker Steven and William Dalton Van Zandt, on March 17, 1997, at age 51, claiming she was the only one on the maternity ward who was also a member of AARP.[11]


Barbeau's autobiography There Are Worse Things I Could Do was published in 2006 by Carroll & Graf, rising to #11 on the Los Angeles Times best-sellers list. In July 2008, her first novel, Vampyres of Hollywood, was published by St. Martin's Press. The novel was co-written by Michael Scott. The sequel Love Bites was published in 2010.



1980Fog, TheThe FogStevie Wayne
1981Escape from New YorkMaggie
1981Cannonball Run, TheThe Cannonball RunMarcie
1982Swamp ThingAlice Cable
1982CreepshowWilma NorthrupSegment: "The Crate"
1984Next One, TheThe Next OneAndrea
1986Back to SchoolVanessa
1987Open HouseLisa Grant
1990Easter Story, TheThe Easter StoryMary Magdalene (voice)Video short
1990Two Evil EyesJessica ValdemarSegment: "The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar"
1993Father HoodCeleste
1994Silk DegreesViolet
1998Scooby-Doo on Zombie IslandSimone (voice)Video
1999Walk in Providence, AA Walk in ProvidenceAunt Lidia
2000Convent, TheThe ConventAdult Christine
2002No Place Like HomeEvie
2003Ghost RockMattie Baker
2008Reach for MeValerie
2009Alice Jacobs Is DeadAlice JacobsShort film
2012ComplacentJudy Sanderson
2012ArgoNina / Serski
????Bring Me the Head of Lance HenriksenAdriennePost-production


1972–1978MaudeCarol TraynorRegular role (93 episodes)
1976Great Houdini, TheThe Great HoudiniDaisy WhiteTV film
1976Julie Farr, M.D.Allie DugginTV film
1977Eight Is EnoughJennifer LindenEpisode: "Turnabout"
1977Red AlertJudy WycheTV film
1977Quincy, M.E.Carol BowenEpisode: "Let Me Light the Way"
1977Have I Got a Christmas for YouMarcia LevineTV film
1978Fighting Nightingales, TheThe Fighting NightingalesMaj. Kate SteeleTV film
1978Love Boat, TheThe Love BoatCathy Randall2 episodes
1978CrashVeronica DanielsTV film
1978Someone's Watching Me!SophieTV film
1978Fantasy IslandMargo Dean1 episode
1979Fantasy IslandBrenda Richards1 episode
1979Darker Side of Terror, TheThe Darker Side of TerrorMargaret CorwinTV Film
1980Top of the HillElizabeth StoneTV film
1980Valentine Magic on Love IslandBeverly McGrawTV film
1980TouristBarbara HugginsTV film
1981Charlie and the Great Balloon ChaseSusan O'NeillTV film
1983Fantasy IslandAdele Anthony1 episode
1984HotelBarbara HarringtonEpisode: "Tomorrows"
1985SeducedBarbara OrloffTV film
1985Murder, She WroteKathrynEpisode: "Jessica Behind Bars"
1985Bridge Across TimeLynn ChandlerTV film
1985The Twilight ZoneMiss PetersEpisode: "Teacher's Aide"
1986HotelEllieEpisode: "Shadow Play"
1987Murder, She WroteLynette BryantEpisode: "The Bottom Line Is Murder"
1987Ultraman: The Adventure BeginsLt. Beth O'Brien (voice)TV film
1989Head of the ClassGloriaEpisode: "The Little Sister"
1990CBS Schoolbreak SpecialMary MartelliEpisode: "The Fourth Man"
1991Blood RiverGeorginaTV film
1991DoublecrossedDebbie SealTV film
1992Burden of Proof, TheThe Burden of ProofSilvia HartnellTV film
1992Dream OnGloria GantzEpisode: "Bad Girls"
1992-1995Batman: The Animated SeriesCatwoman / Selina Kyle / Martha Wayne (voice)Recurring role (8 episodes)
1993FBI: The Untold StoriesMarguerite DobsonEpisode: "Dapper Drew"
1993ABC Weekend SpecialLucinda 'Lucy' CondrajEpisode: "The Parsley Garden"
1993Daddy DearestAnnetteEpisode: "You Bet Your Life"
1994One West WaikikiEdna JaynesEpisode: "A Model for Murder"
1994George Carlin Show, TheThe George Carlin ShowBarbara RossettiEpisode: "George Gets Caught in the Middle"
1994Babylon 5Amanda CarterEpisode: "Spider in the Web"
1996FlipperSydney BrewsterEpisodes: "Surf Gang", "The Girl Who Came to Dinner"
1996Wayans Bros., TheThe Wayans Bros.Trish NeidermeyerEpisode: "New Lease on Life"
1997Weird ScienceLilyEpisode: "Show Chett"
1997New Batman Adventures, TheThe New Batman AdventuresCatwoman / Selina Kyle (voice)Episode: "You Scratch My Back"
1998New Batman Adventures, TheThe New Batman AdventuresCatwoman / Selina Kyle (voice)Episode: "Cult of the Cat"
1998Champion's Fight, AA Champion's FightNancy MuldenhowerTV film
1998Diagnosis: MurderVivien SandersonEpisode: "Rain of Terror"
1998Angry Beavers, TheThe Angry BeaversToluca LakeEpisode: "The Day the Earth Got Really Screwed Up"
1998–2004Drew Carey Show, TheThe Drew Carey ShowKim HarveyRecurring role (6 episodes)
1999Love Boat: The Next WaveGrace BrooksEpisode: "Three Stages of Love"
1999Star Trek: Deep Space NineCretakEpisode: "Inter Arma Silent Leges"
2000–2002Gotham GirlsSelina Kyle / Catwoman / Det. Renee Montoya (voice)Main role (19 episodes)
2001Nash BridgesAnnie CorellEpisode; "Something Borrowed"
2002Totally Spies!Helga Von Guggen (voice)Episode: "Wild Styles"
2002Chronicle, TheThe ChronicleEvelyn HallEpisode: "Tears of a Clone"
2002Santa Trap, TheThe Santa TrapAliceTV film
2003–2005CarnivàleRuthieRegular role (24 episodes)
2004Ring of DarknessAlexTV film
2004Totally Spies!Helga Von Guggen (voice)Episode: "Fashion Faux Pas"
2006DeceitKathleen DarrowTV film
2006Marvel: Ultimate AllianceSif (voice)Video game
2006Christmas Do-OverTrudiTV film
2007K-VilleMarquetta DinoviEpisode: "Bedfellows"
2008Cold CaseHelen McCormickEpisode: "Wings"
2009War WolvesGail CashTV film
2009DexterSuzanna CoffeyEpisode: "Living the Dream"
2009Grey's AnatomyJodie CrawleyEpisode: "I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watchin' Me"
2010Proposition 8 Trial Re-EnactmentDr. Letitia PeplauTV documentary
2010God of War IIIHera (voice)Video game
2010Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation, TheThe Dog Who Saved Christmas VacationMildredTV film
2010–2011General HospitalSuzanne StanwyckRegular role
2011CSI: NYDr. Theola KumiEpisode: "Smooth Criminal"
2012Kingdoms of Amalur: ReckoningClara Sydamus (voice)Video game
2012Halo 4Dr. Tillson (voice)Video game
2012RevengeMarion HarperEpisode: "Lineage"
2013God of War: AscensionAlethia (voice)Video game
2013Sons of AnarchyAliceEpisode: "Sweet and Vaded"
2014Criminal MindsCissy HowardEpisode: "Blood Relations"

Popular culture references[edit]

Captain Murphy, a character from the animated television series Sealab 2021, has an obsession with Barbeau and mentions her in several episodes. In the episode "I Robot" he ponders becoming an "Adrienne Barbeaubot" with laser beam eyes and "D-Cups Full of Justice". In the episode "I Robot Really" Captain Murphy succeeds in having his brain placed inside a robot body which he calls The Barbeau-bot. The Barbeau-bot not only has "D-Cups of Justice" but also chainsaw hands with laser targeting. Barbeau was mentioned in Adult Swim cartoons by the same people as far back as Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode 32.

Also, an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (season 6, episode 5) includes a storyline in which Miles is obsessed with Adrienne Barbeau. He buys a cardboard cut-out of her, and she guest stars at the end of the episode. Upon meeting her, Sabrina compliments Barbeau for her performance as Senator Cretak in the aforementioned Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode.

In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the movie "The Thing That Couldn't Die" Mike Nelson is being sent people he's thinking of by a race of omnipotent beings in one of the "host segments". The person appears and begins to beat up Mike in a manner similar to Finnegan in the classic Star Trek episode "Shore Leave". Mike thinks of Adrienne Barbeau at the insistence of one of his robot companions. Adrienne is played by Mike Nelson's real-life wife Bridget Jones Nelson.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adrienne, Barbeau (March 25, 2010). Michael Stever interviews Adrienne Barbeau. Interview with Stever, Michael. Landmark Jersey City Loews Movie Palace. 01:32-01:40 minutes in. 1st Annual Saturday Nightmare's Horror Expo!. Retrieved July 20, 2013. "…although I was born in Sacramento and I actually took my first acting class in third grade at the Sacrament Music Circus." 
  2. ^ "ADRIENNE BARBEAU PUTS "BEST' FOOT FORWARD". The Sacramento Bee. July 18, 1993. Retrieved December 10, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Adrienne Barbeau Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved October 29, 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c Barbeau, Adrienne (April 15, 2006). There Are Worse Things I Could Do. New York: Carroll & Graf. p. 33. ISBN 0-7867-1637-1. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Clive (January 4, 1971). "Stage: '71 Is Off to a Lamentable Start; 'Stag Movie,' a Musical, Opens at the Gate". The New York Times. p. 39. Retrieved June 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ Briggs, Joe Bob. ""The Fog" Intro". Archived from the original on March 7, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Roger Ebert (February 3, 1980). "Interview with Adrienne Barbeau". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 9, 2006. 
  8. ^ "The Fog (1980)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on February 13, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Terror and the Dame: An Interview with Adrienne Barbeau". The Terror Trap. February 2006. 
  10. ^ Isherwood, Charles (March 24, 2006). "At the Actors' Playhouse, Adrienne Barbeau Is Judy Garland". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Adrienne Barbeau Biography". IMDb. Retrieved July 29, 2007. 

External links[edit]