Mercedes Ruehl

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Mercedes Ruehl
Ruehl in East Hampton, New York in October 2009
BornMercedes J. Ruehl
(1948-02-28) February 28, 1948 (age 66)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Years active1976–present
Spouse(s)David Geiser
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Mercedes Ruehl
Ruehl in East Hampton, New York in October 2009
BornMercedes J. Ruehl
(1948-02-28) February 28, 1948 (age 66)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Years active1976–present
Spouse(s)David Geiser

Mercedes J. Ruehl (born February 28, 1948) is an American theater, television, and film actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1992 for The Fisher King.

Personal life[edit]

Ruehl was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City,[1] the daughter of Mercedes J. Ruehl, a school teacher, and Vincent Ruehl, an FBI agent.[2][3] She was raised Catholic.[4] Her father was of German and Irish descent and her mother was of Cuban and Irish ancestry.[5][6] Ruehl attended College of New Rochelle[7] and graduated in 1969. She is married to painter David Geiser, with whom she adopted a son, Jake (born 1995).[8] She had another son, Christopher, whom she placed in adoption in 1976; he later became Jake's godfather.[8]

Her brother, Peter Ruehl, moved to Australia in 1987 where he was a popular newspaper columnist until his death in 2011.[9]


Ruehl began her career in regional theatre with the Denver Center Theatre Company, taking odd jobs between engagements. Her first starring role on Broadway came in 1984's I'm Not Rappaport. She then went on to win the 1984 Obie Award for her performance in The Marriage of Bette and Boo and twenty years later, an Obie for Woman Before a Glass. She also received a 1991 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers and continued her role in the show during its tour with co-star Mercedes McCambridge. Her performances in two other plays earned her two other Tony nominations: in 1995, as Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) for a revival of The Shadow Box; and in 2002, as Best Actress (Play) for Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?.[10]

Her most acclaimed film role was in The Fisher King; her performance in the film earned her the 1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an American Comedy Award, a Boston Society of Film Critics Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and a Golden Globe. Earlier she had won the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Married to the Mob. She played KACL station manager Kate Costas in five episodes of Frasier, and had a major role in the made-for-TV film All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. She is the first Cuban American female Academy Award winner. In 2005, she (along with Esai Morales) received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. She later played the mother of main character Vincent Chase in HBO's Entourage.

In 2009, Ruehl returned to the Broadway stage in Manhattan Theater Club's production of Richard Greenberg's The American Plan playing the role of Eva Adler.[11] The production opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre and the limited engagement ran From January 22 until March 22.[12] In his rave review in The New York Times, Ben Brantley called Ruehl's performance "masterly".[13] Ruehl next appeared in the drama/horror film What Ever Happened to Barker Daniels?, which was released in 2009.[14] In January 2012, Ruehl starred in Sarah Treem's play The How and The Why, directed by Emily Mann at McCarter Theatre of Princeton University.[15]


Though not a singer herself, Ruehl was involved in the production of the album Haunted by Poe; she also reads passages from the book House of Leaves by Poe's brother Mark Z. Danielewski on the CD Don't be Scared, issued to cross-promote both projects.



YearFilmRoleOther notes
1976Dona Flor and Her Two HusbandsAmerican girl in casino
1979The WarriorsPolicewoman in Central Park
1981Four FriendsWoman in Taxi
1987Leader of the BandMiss Cooper
Radio DaysAd Men
84 Charing Cross RoadKay
The Secret of My SuccessSheila
1988BigMrs. Baskin
Married to the MobConnie RussoNational Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1989Slaves of New YorkSamantha
Crimes and MisdemeanorsParty Guestuncredited
1990Crazy PeopleDr. Liz Baylor
1991Another YouElaine
The Fisher KingAnne NapolitanoAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Pasinetti Award for Best Actress (Venice Film Festival)
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993Lost in YonkersBella Kurnitz
Last Action HeroIrene Madigan
1994On HopeWendy
1995Indictment: The McMartin TrialLael Rubin
1997For RoseannaRoseanna 'Rosa'
1999The Minus ManJane Durwin
Out of the ColdTina
2000Spooky HouseBoss
What's Cooking?Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Avila
More Dogs Than BonesVictoria 'Vic' Galletti
The Amati GirlsGrace
2004Zeyda and the HitmanEsther
2007A Happy DeathAunt Rosa
2009Loving LeahJanice Lever


1984Mom's on StrikeSandy
1985Our Family HonorLouise TaylorEpisode: "Homecoming"
1986Kate & AllieMillieEpisode: "Late Bloomer"
1990Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby ShowBernadette FoleyEpisode: "The Moves"
1995Indictment: The McMartin TrialLael RubinNominated — CableACE Award for Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1995–1996FrasierKate Costas5 episodes
1997SUBWAY Stories: Tales from the UndergroundLeylaSegment: "Underground"
North Shore FishFlorence
1998GiaKathleen Carangi
2000All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau StoryJane Newhall
Lost Child, TheThe Lost ChildRebeccaHallmark Hall of Fame
2001Mr. Life
2002Guilt by AssociationSusan Walker
WidowsDolly RawlinsMiniseries
20041-800-MissingEmanuelle BakerEpisode: "These Dreams Before Me"
Bad AppleLorraine Gibbons
Law & OrderZina RybakovEpisode: "All in the Family"
2005Mom at SixteenTerry JeffriesNominated — Prism Award Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries
2006EntourageRita ChaseEpisodes: "Aquamom" and "Return To Queens Blvd"
A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo StorySylvia GuerreroNominated — Imagen Award for Best Actress - Television
2007PsychDetective GoochbergEpisode: "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast"
2009Law & OrderJudge Clara LloydEpisode: "By Perjury"


  1. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (26 March 1992). "Mercedes Ruehl, Driven; The Manic Actress On the Road to Oscar". The Washington Post (HighBeam Research). Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  2. ^ "Mercedes Ruehl biography (1948?- )". Film Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  3. ^ Stark, John; Hutchings, David (5 September 1988). "Playing a Gangster's Spitfire Wife, Mercedes Ruehl Heists the Spotlight in Married to the Mob". People. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  4. ^ Ruehl, Mercedes. Casting a new light on a dark subject - novelist Cynthia Ozick - Interview. Interview. August 1994.[dead link]
  5. ^ Corliss, Richard (6 April 2002). "That Old Feeling: The Oscar Race". Time. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  6. ^ Buckley, Michael. "STAGE TO SCREENS: Mercedes Ruehl, the Macy-Mamet Connection and Remembering Brad Sullivan". Playbill. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  7. ^ "About CNR". College of New Rochelle. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  8. ^ a b "Mercedes Ruehl". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  9. ^ "Newspaper columnist Peter Ruehl dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  10. ^ "Biography: Mercedes Ruehl". American Theatre Wing. February 2005. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth (22 January 2009). "Ruehl & Rabe Are Mother and Daughter in Broadway's American Plan, Opening Jan. 22". Playbill ( Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth (19 February 2009). "Broadway's American Plan Is Extended to March 22". Playbill ( Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  13. ^ "Rapunzel in the Catskills". The New York Times ( 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  14. ^ Retrieved on 2009-24-04[dead link]
  15. ^ Filichia, Peter (18 January 2011). "'The How and the Why' review: Princeton play premiere proves to be all-inclusive success". The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey: Retrieved 2013-10-25. 

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