Christine Baranski

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Christine Baranski
ROMY 2012 04 Christine Baranski crop.JPG
Baranski at the Romy TV Awards in April 2012.
BornChristine Jane Baranski
(1952-05-02) May 2, 1952 (age 62)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
EducationJuilliard School (1974)
Years active1974–present
Spouse(s)Matthew Cowles (m. 1983; his death 2014)
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Christine Baranski
ROMY 2012 04 Christine Baranski crop.JPG
Baranski at the Romy TV Awards in April 2012.
BornChristine Jane Baranski
(1952-05-02) May 2, 1952 (age 62)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
EducationJuilliard School (1974)
Years active1974–present
Spouse(s)Matthew Cowles (m. 1983; his death 2014)

Christine Jane Baranski (born May 2, 1952) is an American stage and screen actress. She is an Emmy Award winner and a two-time Tony Award winner.

Baranski made her stage debut in 1974 and her Broadway debut in Hide and Seek in 1980. She has won two Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play, for The Real Thing in 1984 and Rumors in 1989. Other Broadway credits include, Hurlyburly (1984), The House of Blue Leaves (1986) and Boeing Boeing (2008).

On television, she is known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Maryanne Thorpe in the sitcom Cybill (1995-1998), and her Emmy-nominated portrayals of Dr. Beverly Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory and Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife. She has received a total of eleven Emmy nominations. Her film roles include 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), Legal Eagles (1986), Reversal of Fortune (1990), Addams Family Values (1993), Jeffrey (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Bulworth (1998), Cruel Intentions (1999), Chicago (2002) and Mamma Mia! (2008).

Early life and education[edit]

Baranski was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Virginia (née Mazurowski) and Lucien Baranski, who edited a Polish-language newspaper.[1][2] She is of Polish descent and her grandparents were actors in the Polish theater.[3][4] Baranski attended high school at the Villa Maria Academy in Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo.[5][6] She then studied at New York City's Juilliard School[7] (Drama Division Group 3: 1970–1974)[8] where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974.[9]



Baranski made her Off-Broadway debut in Coming Attractions at Playwrights Horizons in 1980, and has appeared in several Off Broadway productions at the Manhattan Theatre Club, starting with Sally and Marsha in 1982.

Baranski made her Broadway debut in Hide & Seek in 1980. For her next Broadway performance, in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, she won the 1984 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play. Other Broadway credits include: Hurlyburly, The House of Blue Leaves, Rumors (for which she won her second Tony), Regrets Only, Nick & Nora, and the Encores! concert staging of Follies.

At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Baranski starred as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd in 2002[10] (for which she won the 2003 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical) and as the titular Mame in 2006.[6]

In her first Broadway production since 1991, she was featured as the maid "Berthe" in the 2008 revival of Boeing Boeing.[11] The show garnered two Tony Awards, one for Best Revival of a Play and the other for Best Actor (Mark Rylance). The original cast was Bradley Whitford (Bernard), Kathryn Hahn (Gloria), Christine Baranski (Berthe), Gina Gershon (Gabriella), and Mary McCormack (Gretchen). The show closed on January 4, 2009.

She also appeared in a one night only concert benefit performance of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music for Roundabout Theatre Company as Countess Charlotte Malcolm on January 12, 2009.[12] The cast included Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Victor Garber, and Marc Kudisch, among others.

She has won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards twice.


Baranski has also starred in various roles in films and television. In film, some of her better known roles are as Katherine Archer in The Birdcage, Mary Sunshine in the musical Chicago, Martha May Whovier in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Connie Chasseur in The Ref and as Tanya Chisham-Leigh in the hit musical Mamma Mia! She will also play Cinderella's Stepmother in the film adaptation of the musical, Into the Woods.[13]

Television work[edit]

Baranski at the Metropolitan Opera 2010 opening night of Das Rheingold.

Though widely reported to have worked as a child actress under the name "Chris Charney," Baranski denies ever having appeared on The Brady Bunch,[14] adamant that "the first real TV show" that she worked on was Cybill.

Baranski was featured as Cybill Shepherd's hard-drinking friend Maryanne Thorpe in the CBS sitcom Cybill, which ran from 1995 until 1998, during which time she hosted Saturday Night Live and won an Emmy Award as best supporting actress in a comedy series along with three other nominations. The next year, Baranski received an Emmy nomination for a guest starring role as an intimidating radio psychiatrist on an episode of the NBC series Frasier. She had an uncredited role in the series Now and Again as the voice of Roger's overbearing wife Ruth, who was never seen by viewers.

She later appeared in the 2000–2001 sitcom Welcome to New York and, with John Laroquette, in the 2003–2004 NBC sitcom Happy Family. She co-starred with Bernadette Peters in a pilot for an ABC sitcom, Adopted, in 2005, which was not picked up. She also played Faith Clancy, the mother of Jim Clancy in Ghost Whisperer. Around the same time, she also portrayed a librarian named Sonja Umdahl in the episode "Dick and the Single Girl" of the series 3rd Rock from the Sun[15] and guest starred in The Big Bang Theory as Dr. Beverly Hofstadter, an unemotional expert in psychiatry and neuroscience who is the mother of one of the protagonists, Leonard Hofstadter. She appeared in the second season episode entitled "The Maternal Capacitance", for which she received an Emmy nomination. Due to the popularity of her first appearance, Baranski returned in the third season for the Christmas episode, "The Maternal Congruence" receiving another Emmy nomination.

Since 2009, she has played the role of Diane Lockhart, a top litigator and senior partner of a Chicago law firm on The Good Wife. She was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Besides her work on The Good Wife and the aforementioned guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory, other recent appearances include Ugly Betty in 2009 as Victoria Hartley, the haughty mother of Betty's new boyfriend.

Personal life[edit]

Baranski married actor Matthew Cowles in October 1983. They were married until his death on May 22, 2014.[2][16] They have two daughters, Isabel (born 1984) and Lily (born 1987).[17]



1982Soup for OneBlonde in Bar
1983The OutsidersGirl at Dairy Queen asking for money
19869½ WeeksThea
1986Legal EaglesCarol Freeman
1987Pick-up Artist, TheThe Pick-up ArtistHarriet
1990Reversal of FortuneAndrea Reynolds, Claus' Girlfriend
1993Night We Never Met, TheThe Night We Never MetLucy
1993Life with MikeyCarol
1993Addams Family ValuesBecky Martin-Granger
1994Ref, TheThe RefConnie Chasseur
1994Getting InMrs. Margaret "Maggie" Higgs
1994War, TheThe WarMiss Strapford
1995New Jersey DriveProsecutor
1995JeffreyAnn Marwood Bartle
1996Birdcage, TheThe BirdcageKatherine Archer
1998Odd Couple II, TheThe Odd Couple IIThelma
1998BulworthConstance Bulworth
1999Cruel IntentionsBunny Caldwell
2000Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole ChristmasMartha May Whovier
2002The GuruShantal
2002ChicagoMary Sunshine
2003Marci XMary Ellen Spinkle
2004Welcome to MooseportCharlotte Cole
2005Scooby Doo! in Where's My Mummy?Amelia Von Butch (voice)
2006Falling for GraceBree
2006Relative StrangersArleen Clayton
2008Mamma Mia!Tanya Chisham-Leigh
2010Bounty Hunter, TheThe Bounty HunterKitty Hurley
2012Foodfight!Hedda Shopper (voice)
2014Into The Woods[13]Cinderella's Stepmother


1977Busting LooseDebbieTV series: Episode "The Decision: Part 1"
1980Playing for TimeOlgaTV movie
1982Midsummer Night's Dream, AA Midsummer Night's DreamHelenaTV movie
1982Another WorldBeverly TuckerTV series, unknown episodes
1984All My ChildrenJewel ManiscaloTV series, unknown episodes
1985Big Shots in AmericaTV movie
1985Equalizer, TheThe EqualizerVictoria BainesTV series, episode: "Mama's Boy"
1987House of Blue Leaves, TheThe House of Blue LeavesBunny FlingusTV movie
1988The ThornsPollyTV series, episode: "The Maid"
1991Law & OrderKatherine Masucci BeigelTV series, episodes: "The Torrents of Greed Parts 1 & 2"
1992ScreenplayBlair BennettTV series, episode: "Buying a Landslide"
1993To Dance with the White DogKateTV movie
1994Law & OrderRose SiegalTV series, episode: "Nurture"
1995–1998CybillMaryanne ThorpeTV series, 87 episodes
1996Saturday Night LiveHostTV series, episode: "Christine Baranski/The Cure"
19973rd Rock from the SunSonja UmdahlTV series, episode: "Dick and the Single Girl"
1999Now and AgainRuth BenderEpisode: "Origins" (voice, uncredited)
1999FrasierDr. Nora FairchildTV series, series 6 episode 20: "Dr. Nora"
2000–2001Welcome to New YorkMarsha BicknerTV series, 13 episodes
2001Citizen BainesGlenn Ferguson Baines WelchTV series, episode: "Three Days in November"
2002Speed Racer XTrixie FontaineTV series, voice
2002Presidio MedDr. Terry HowlandTV series, episodes: "Pick Your Battles", "Best of Enemies"
2003Eloise at the PlazaPrunella SticklerTV movie
2003Eloise at ChristmastimePrunella SticklerTV movie
2003–2004Happy FamilyAnnie BrennanTV series, 22 episodes
2005Recipe for a Perfect ChristmasLee BellmontTV movie
2005AdoptedJudy RabinowitzTV movie
2005In the GameTV pilot
2005Ghost WhispererFaith ClancyTV series, episodes: "Voices", "The Crossing"
2006InseparableBarbaraTV movie
2006American Dad!Homeless WomanTV series, episode: "Failure Is Not a Factory-installed Option" (voice)
2009Ugly BettyVictoria HartleyTV series, 4 episodes
2009PsychAlice ClaytonTV series, episode: "He Dead"
2009–presentBig Bang Theory, TheThe Big Bang TheoryDr. Beverly HofstadterRecurring character, episodes: "The Maternal Congruence", "The Maternal Capacitance", "The Skank Reflex Analysis", "The Raiders Minimization", "The Status Quo Combustion"
2009–presentGood Wife, TheThe Good WifeDiane LockhartTV series, 90 episodes[18]
2011Who Is Simon Miller?AmandaTV movie
2011Ugly AmericansGrimes' mummyTV series, Season 2, episode 10: "Mummy Dearest"

Video games[edit]

2013Skylanders: Swap ForceKaos' Mother[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "Christine Baranski - Family and Companions - Yahoo!7 Movies"
  2. ^ a b "Christine Baranski Biography (1952-)", accessed April 29, 2011
  3. ^ "Western New York Public Broadcasting Association"
  4. ^ Triplett, William (May 12, 2002). "For Baranski, A Most Meaty Opportunity; In 'Sweeney Todd,' Actress Sinks Her Teeth Into a Singing Role". The Washington Post (HighBeam Research). 
  5. ^ Rousuck, J. Wynn (May 21, 2006). "The lady has it: Christine Baranski stars in 'Mame' for the 2nd time". The Baltimore Sun. 
  6. ^ a b Gans, Andrew (June 16, 2006). "DIVA TALK: Chatting with Mame's Christine Baranski". 
  7. ^ Shulman, Randy (June 8, 2006). "Christine Baranski: TV and stage actress talks about starring in 'Mame' and 'Cybill'". 
  8. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2009. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Christine Baranski". All Movie Guide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Adding Love To the Pies' Time-Tested Recipe", New York Times, May 15, 2002
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert. "PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Christine Baranski",, May 7, 2008
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Starry A Little Night Music Concert Presented in Manhattan Jan. 12",, January 12, 2009
  13. ^ a b WORLD EXCLUSIVE! New Confirmed Casting For the INTO THE WOODS Movie, Starring Streep & Depp Broadway World, Retrieved July 27, 2013
  14. ^ Christine Baranski: Wasn't Me on 'The Brady Bunch'!
  15. ^ "3rd Rock from the Sun"; Dick and the Single Girl (1997) — Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Matthew Cowles, Actor and Husband of Christine Baranski, Dies", May 27, 2014
  17. ^ Klein, Alvin (January 25, 1998). "THEATER; Being Irish And Being Married". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Filmography by TV series for Christine Baranski". Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  19. ^ Skylanders Swap Force E3 2013 - Epic Interview Pt 2 (Kaos's Mom, TarClops) on YouTube

External links[edit]