Blair Brown

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Blair Brown
Blair Brown by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Brown at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2010
BornBonnie Blair Brown
(1947-04-23) April 23, 1947 (age 67)
Washington, D.C.
EducationNational Theatre School of Canada
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For the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in British politics, see Blair-Brown.
Blair Brown
Blair Brown by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Brown at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2010
BornBonnie Blair Brown
(1947-04-23) April 23, 1947 (age 67)
Washington, D.C.
EducationNational Theatre School of Canada

Bonnie Blair Brown (born April 23, 1947) is an American theater, film, and television actress. She has had a number of high-profile roles, including a Tony Award-winning turn in the play Copenhagen on Broadway, as well as a run as the title character in the television comedy-drama The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, which ran from 1987 to 1991.[1] Brown is well known for her recent role as Nina Sharp in the television series Fringe, broadcast on Fox.

Personal life[edit]

Brown was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Elizabeth Ann (née Blair), a teacher, and Milton Henry Brown, a U.S. intelligence agent.[2][3] She graduated from The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia before going on to pursue acting at the National Theatre School of Canada, graduating in 1969.[4] She gained notice as a participating actor at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and spent several years honing her work on the stage.[1]

Brown had a relationship with actor Richard Jordan, whom she met while filming the miniseries Captains and the Kings in 1976. The couple lived together from 1976 to 1985; they had one son, Robert Anson Jordan III, born in 1983.[5]



Brown's first feature film role was in the Oscar-winning 1973 film The Paper Chase; her first major starring role was in The Choirboys in 1977. Among her other film credits were Altered States (opposite William Hurt), One Trick Pony, the film Stealing Home (opposite Mark Harmon) and A Flash Of Green (1984). Her arguably highest profile film role to date was the romantic lead opposite John Belushi in Continental Divide (1981) for which she received her first Golden Globe Award nomination, in the category of Best Motion Picture Actress in a Comedy/Musical.

Other film roles include: And I Alone Survived (1978), Strapless (1989), The Astronaut's Wife (1999), Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys (2000), Lars von Trier's Dogville, the Kevin Bacon-directed Loverboy (2005) and The Sentinel (2006).


Brown appeared in several television movies and miniseries, primarily during the 1980s. A high-profile role as Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1983 TV miniseries Kennedy earned her a second Golden Globe nomination, for Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, as well as a BAFTA nomination. She also appeared in several other programs about the Kennedys, including the 1996 miniseries A Season in Purgatory, which was a thinly veiled portrait of the family, as well as an appearance as Anna Roosevelt in a telefilm about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Brown is perhaps best known for her five-year run (1987–1991) on the Emmy Award-nominated comedy-drama series The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. Brown played the title role, and she, and the show, earned a small but dedicated following. Brown received five consecutive Emmy Award nominations for each season, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, but never won. The show spent two years on NBC, then moved to the Lifetime cable channel for the remainder of its run.

Brown also appeared in other prime-time series including The Rockford Files, Kojak, Frasier, Smallville, Touched by an Angel, ER, and Ed. Beginning in 2008, Brown starred as Nina Sharp in the Fox television series Fringe.


Brown has been involved with theater since the beginning of her career. She appeared in the 1975 New York Shakespeare Festival production of The Comedy of Errors.[6] Among her earlier roles was a run as Lucy Brown in the 1976 production of Brecht & Weill's The Threepenny Opera, produced by Joe Papp and directed by Richard Foreman. She left the production for film work, but after being away from the production for eight months, Ellen Greene, who was playing the part of Jenny, fell ill. Brown astounded the stage manager of the production by coming in and, with one hour of rehearsal, put on a "brilliant" performance as Jenny.[7] Her first major appearance on the Broadway came in 1989, in the play Secret Rapture, written by David Hare.

Once "Molly Dodd" concluded, Brown became a prolific Broadway actress, appearing in a number of roles. Among them were roles in Tom Stoppard's 1995 Lincoln Center Theater production of Arcadia[8] and two separate runs as Frau Schneider in the revival of Cabaret (1998 and 2003).[9] She played Margrethe, the wife of physicist Niels Bohr, in the play Copenhagen,[10] a role for which she won a 2000 Tony Award in the category of Best Featured Actress in a Play.[11] Brown played the lead role in Sarah Ruhl's 2006 play The Clean House at Lincoln Center.[12]


In the 1990s, Brown expanded her career into voiceover work, narrating both audiobooks and films and documentaries. Her audiobooks projects include John Grisham's The Client, Lois Lowry's Number the Stars, Stephen King's Rose Madder, Kevin Henkes' Olive's Ocean, Sue Miller's 2005 novel Lost in the Forest, and Isabel Allende's Inés of My Soul.

Her voiceovers are heard on a number of documentaries, including PBS's American Experience series and the 2007 PBS series The Mysterious Human Heart. Other documentary narrations include the scientific series The Secret Life of the Brain, a documentary on Aimee Semple McPherson, which aired in April 2007, and a 2006 PBS documentary about Marie Antoinette. In April, 2010, she co-narrated the PBS special The Buddha with Richard Gere.



1972House of LoversGeorge Thacker
1973DraculaTelevision film
The Paper ChaseMiss Farranti
1977Eleanor and Franklin: The White House YearsAnna RooseveltTelevision film
Charlie Cobb: Nice Night for a HangingCharityTelevision film
The 3,000 Mile ChaseRachel KaneTelevision film
The QuinnsMillicent PriestleyTelevision film
The ChoirboysKimberly Lyles
1978And I Alone SurvivedLauren ElderTelevision film
1979The Child StealerJan RodmanTelevision film
1980One Trick PonyMarion
Altered StatesEmily Jessup
1981Continental DivideNell PorterNominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1983The Skin of Our TeethSabinaTelevision film
1984A Flash of GreenKat Hubble
1985The Bad SeedChristine PenmarkTelevision film
1987Hands of a StrangerDiane BentonTelevision film
1988Stealing HomeGinny Wyatt
1989StraplessDr. Lillian Hempel
1990Extreme Close-UpMargaret TollTelevision film
1991The Good Policeman
Lethal InnocenceSally HatchTelevision film
1992Those SecretsNeille BaneshTelevision film
Passed AwayAmy Scanlan
Majority RuleGen. Katherine TaylorTelevision film
1993Rio ShannonElizabeth ClearyTelevision film
The Day My Parents Ran AwayMrs. Judy MillerTelevision film
1994Moment of Truth: To Walk AgainCarol KeatingTelevision film
The Gift of LoveHelen PorterTelevision film
1996The Ultimate LieJoan 'Joanie' McGrathTelevision film
A Season in PurgatoryGrace BradleyTelevision film
1997ConvictionsZalinda DorcheusTelevision film
1999The Astronaut's WifeShelly McLaren
2000Space CowboysDr. Anne Caruthers
2000In His Life: The John Lennon StoryMimi SmithTelevision film
HamletGertrudeTelevision film
2001Follow the Stars HomeHannah ParkerTelevision film
2002GraspJean Malcheck
2003DogvilleMrs. Henson
2004Dark ShadowsElizabeth Collins StoddardTelevision film
CopshopFrances HardingTelevision film
2005LoverboyJeanette Rawley
2006The SentinelNational Security Advisor
The TreatmentMiss Callucci
Griffin & PhoenixEve
2007Dark MatterHildy
First BornLaura's Mother
2011The Speed of ThoughtBridgerPost-Production

TV series[edit]

1971Police SurgeonDulcy
1972The Whiteoaks of JalnaPheasan Vaughan
Marcus Welby, M.D.
The Rockford FilesDep. DA Kate Doyle / Kate Flanders
1976The Oregon TrailJessica Thorpe
Captains and the KingsElizabeth HealeyMiniseries
1977FamilyMiss Jessup
1978WheelsBarbara LiptonMiniseries
1983KennedyJacqueline KennedyMiniseries
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1985SpacePenny Hardesty PopeMiniseries
ABC Afterschool SpecialJoan Stewart
1986Comedy FactoryValerie Arnold
1987-1991The Days and Nights of Molly DoddMolly Dodd / Lorna LaSalleNominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1997FedsErica Stanton
2001Touched by an AngelVictoria
2002SmallvilleRachel Dunleavy
Benjamin FranklinJane Franklin MecomMiniseries documentary
Young Dr. FreudNarratorDocumentary
CSI: MiamiMargie Winters
2003Law & OrderVirginia Masters
2003-2004EdMary Burton
2004ERDr. Vicki Ford
Law & Order: Special Victims UnitAttorney Lynne Riff
2005MissingEmma Roderick
1995-2007American ExperienceNarrator / Evelyn NesbitDocumentary
2011Falling SkiesSonyaGuest appearance
2008-2013FringeNina SharpMain cast
2015Orange Is The New Black-Recurring Character


  1. ^ a b "We're Sorry". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce (April 27, 1995). "At Home With: Blair Brown; Never the Ingenue". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Blair Brown biography". 
  4. ^ "Alumni: 1963-1969". National Theatre School of Canada. 
  5. ^ Blair Brown at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ O'Hare, Patricia (April 19, 2000). "Red-haired Brown liable to lasso two Tony nominations". New York Daily News. 
  7. ^ Gindi, Roger (February 6, 2000). "Blair Brown; To the Rescue". New York Times. 
  8. ^ "PHOTO ARCHIVE: Arcadia in 1995, With Billy Crudup, Blair Brown and Victor Garber". 
  9. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (September 8, 2003). "Tony Roberts and Blair Brown Are Cabaret's New Schultz and Schneider, Sept. 22". 
  10. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 12, 2000). "Theater Review; A Fiery Power In the Behavior Of Particles And Humans". New York Times. 
  11. ^ McBride, Murdoch (June 4, 2000). "2000 TONY AWARD WINNER: Best Featured Actress In A Play - Blair Brown". 
  12. ^ Isherwood, Charles (October 31, 2006). "Theater Review: 'The Clean House'". New York Times. 

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