Swoosie Kurtz

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Swoosie Kurtz
Swoosie Kurtz Shankbone 2009 Tribeca.jpg
Kurtz at the 2009 premiere of PoliWood
Born(1944-09-06) September 6, 1944 (age 69)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Years active1968–present
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Swoosie Kurtz
Swoosie Kurtz Shankbone 2009 Tribeca.jpg
Kurtz at the 2009 premiere of PoliWood
Born(1944-09-06) September 6, 1944 (age 69)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Years active1968–present

Swoosie Kurtz (/ˌswsi ˈkɜrts/, SWOO-si; born September 6, 1944) is an American actress. She is an Emmy Award and two-time Tony Award winner.

Kurtz made her Broadway debut in the 1975 revival of Ah, Wilderness. She has received five Tony Award nominations, winning two, for Fifth of July in 1981 and The House of Blue Leaves in 1986. Her other nominations were for Tartuffe in 1988, Frozen in 2004 and Heartbreak House in 2007.

For her television work, she has received eight Emmy Award nominations, with one win for Carol and Company in 1990. Other television credits include the NBC drama Sisters (1991-1996), Huff (2004-2006), Pushing Daisies (2007-2009) and since 2010, the hit CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. Her films include, Wildcats (1986), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Stanley and Iris (1990), Citizen Ruth (1996) and Liar Liar (1997).

Early life[edit]

Kurtz was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the only child of author Margaret "Margo" (née Rogers) and Air Force Colonel Frank Allen Kurtz, Jr., a much-decorated WWII American bomber pilot.[1][2][3] She got her unique first name "Swoosie" (which rhymes with Lucy, rather than woozy) from her father. It is derived from the sole surviving example of the early Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress bomber, named "The Swoose" or simply "Swoose"—half swan, half goose—which her father piloted, breaking all Pacific records[4] during World War II.[5] As a military brat, Kurtz moved frequently. Kurtz attended the University of Southern California where she majored in drama. She then attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.


John Guare and Kurtz at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

Kurtz's first television appearance at age seventeen was on The Donna Reed Show 4th season episode "The Golden Trap" (February, 1962). She also appeared on To Tell the Truth at eighteen, identifying her father from two impostors. Kurtz began her career in theater, making her Broadway debut in the 1975 revival of Ah, Wilderness!. She first gained wide recognition in 1978 for two theatrical productions, Uncommon Women and Others, the breakthrough play by Wendy Wasserstein in which she appeared in a 1977 workshop at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and then Off-Broadway, and the musical A History of the American Film for which she won a Drama Desk Award. Kurtz was soon awarded Broadway's "triple crown" (the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards) for her portrayal of Gwen in Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July. She won a second Tony for her performance as Bananas in a 1986 revival of The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare. She starred as playwright Lillian Hellman in the 2002 Nora Ephron play Imaginary Friends.

Cynthia Nixon, John Hurt and Kurtz at the premiere of An Englishman in New York.

In 1978, Kurtz was part of the ensemble cast of Mary Tyler Moore's short-lived variety series Mary, that also included David Letterman and Michael Keaton. In 1981, Kurtz began two seasons alongside Tony Randall in the sitcom Love, Sidney, in a role that earned her the first of her 10 Emmy Award nominations. In 1990, she won her first Emmy for a guest-starring role on Carol Burnett's comedy series Carol & Company.

From 1991 to 1996, Kurtz had her longest-running television role, starring as wealthy divorcee Alex Reed Halsey on the NBC drama Sisters, a role that earned her two more Emmy Award nominations. She also starred in the ABC television series Pushing Daisies as Lily Charles.

In recent years, Kurtz has guest-starred on the hit shows ER and Lost and Desperate Housewives and has also had recurring roles as Valerie on the drama That's Life, as Judy's mother Helen on the sitcom Still Standing, as Madeleine Sullivan on the Showtime drama series Huff, and most recently as part of a lesbian married couple with Blythe Danner in the TV drama Nurse Jackie. Kurtz can currently be seen in CBS sitcom Mike & Molly as Joyce Flynn, mother of Molly (Melissa McCarthy) and Victoria (Katy Mixon).

Although her main focus has been television, Kurtz has starred in several major Hollywood films including the Agatha Christie drama Caribbean Mystery in 1983, Dangerous Liaisons in 1988, its 1999 remake Cruel Intentions, as a lesbian activist in the acclaimed indie film Citizen Ruth, and perhaps most notably, alongside Jim Carrey in 1997's Liar Liar.


1968The FirebugsAnn
1970The Effect of Gamma RaysTillie/Janice Vickery
1977Slap ShotShirley Upton
1977First LoveMarsha
1978Oliver's StoryGwen Simpson
1979Walking Through the FireCariaTV movie
1980Marriage is Alive and WellJane TremontTV movie
1980The Mating SeasonRobertaTV movie
1982The World According to GarpThe Hooker
1983A Caribbean MysteryRuth Walter
1984Against All OddsEdie
1985Guilty ConscienceJackie WillisTV movie
1985A Time to LivePatriciaTV movie
1986WildcatsVerna McGrath
1986True StoriesMiss Rollings
1988Baja OklahomaDoris SteadmanNominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1988Vice VersaTina Brooks / Turk
1988Bright Lights, Big CityMegan
1988Dangerous LiaisonsMadame de Volanges
1990The ImageJoanne Winstow-DarvishNominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1990Stanley & IrisSharon
1990A Shock to the SystemLeslie Marshall
1991Walking the DogUnknownShort
1991Terror on Track 9Marcia HobbsTV movie
1993The Positively True Adventures
of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-
Murdering Mom
Marla HarperTV movie
1993And the Band Played OnMrs. JohnstoneCableACE Award for Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1994Reality BitesCharlane McGregor
1994One ChristmasEmilyTV movie
1995Betrayed: A Story of Three WomenJoan BixlerTV movie
1996Citizen Ruth'Diane Siegler
1996A Promise to CarolynKayTV movie
1996HarveyVeta SimmonsTV movie
1996StorybookQueen Evilia
1997Little Girls in Pretty BoxesAllison BryantTV movie
1997Liar LiarDana Appleton
1998My Own CountryHope FlandersTV movie
1998Outside OzonaRosalee
1999Cruel IntentionsDr. Greenbaum
1999The White River KidMummy Weed
2001Get Over ItBeverly Landers
2001Bubble BoyMrs. Livingston
2001The Wilde GirlsSierra LambertTV movie
2002The Rules of AttractionMrs. Jared
2003DuplexJeanaka Our House
2004Sleep Easy, Hutch RimesBinny Redwine
2005TrueUnknownTV movie
2005Category 7: The End of the WorldPenny HallTV movie
2005Nadine in Date LandUnknownTV movie
2007Superman: DoomsdayMartha Kent (voice)
2008Living ProofElizabethTV movie
2009An Englishman in New YorkConnie Clausen
1971As the World TurnsEllie Bradley [6]Unknown episodes
1976KojakJulie Di NataEpisode: "Black Thorn"
1978MarySkit charactersUnknown episodes
1979Uncommon Women and OthersRita AltabelUnknown episodes
1981–83Love, SidneyLaurie Morgan44 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1982, 1983)
1987American PlayhouseBananas Shaughnessy / Gwen Landis2 episodes
1987Trying TimesWandaEpisode: "The Visit"
1990Carol & CompanyLaurieEpisode: "Reunion"
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
1995Hope and GloriaHerselfEpisode: "How to Get an Ed in Business"
1995The Magic School BusDorothy Ann's Mom / NASA Woman (voice)Episode: "Out of This World"
1991–96SistersAlexandra 'Alex' Reed Halsey Barker127 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (1995)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1993, 1994)
1996Party GirlJudy Burkhard3 episodes
1997Touched by an AngelLibby KingEpisode: "Charades"
1996–97Suddenly SusanLiz Miller Keane3 episodes
1998ERTina Marie ChamblissEpisode: "Suffer the Little Children"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
1998More Tales of the CityBetty Borg Ramsey3 episodes
1999–00Love & MoneyEffie Conklin13 episodes
2000The Outer LimitsJustice Kendall WoodsEpisode: "Final Appeal"
2001The Fighting FitzgeraldsUnknownEpisode: "When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'"
2001–02That's LifeValerie Wilkinson4 episodes
2002Street TimeVictoria Van KleekEpisode: "The Truth Hurts... Bad"
2003The Wild ThornberrysMichelle Naidell (voice)Episode: "The Wild Snob-berry"
2005LostEmily Annabeth LockeEpisode: "Deus Ex Machina"
2005–presentAmerican Dad!Betty SmithRecurring role
2005Still StandingHelen Michaels2 episodes
2004–06HuffMadeleine Sullivan8 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2005, 2006)
2007–09Pushing DaisiesLily Charles22 episodes
2009Desperate HousewivesJessieEpisode: "The Story of Lucy and Jessie"
2009HeroesMillie Houston2 episodes
2009Law & Order: Special Victims UnitJudge Hilda MarsdenEpisode: "Crush"
2009Rita RocksMarilyn4 episodes
2010ChuckLaura TurnerEpisode: "Chuck Versus the Role Models"
2009–11Nurse JackieMrs. Scheinhorn2 episodes
2010–presentMike & MollyJoyce FlynnMain Cast

Theatre credits[edit]

1968The FirebugsAnnMartinique Theatre
July 1, 1968 – July 7, 1968
1970The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon MarigoldsJanice VickeryMercer Arts Center
April 07, 1970 – May 14, 1972
1975Ah, Wilderness!Muriel McComberCircle in the Square Theatre
September 18, 1975 – November 23, 1975
1976ChildrenJaneStage 73
October 20, 1976
1977Uncommon Women and OthersRita AltabelMarymount Manhattan Theatre
November 17, 1977 – December 4, 1977
1977TartuffeMarianeCircle in the Square Theatre
September 25, 1977 – November 20, 1977
1978A History of the American FilmBetteANTA Playhouse
March 30, 1978 – April 16, 1978
1979Wine UntouchedUnknownHarold Clurman Theater
June 18, 1979 – June 28, 1979
1980Fifth of JulyGwen LandisNew Apollo Theatre
November 5, 1980 – January 24, 1982
1985The Beach HouseAnnieCircle Repertory Company
December 19, 1985 – February 2, 1986
1986The House of Blue LeavesBananas ShaughnessyVivian Beaumont Theater
April 29, 1986 – March 15, 1987
1989Love LettersMelissa Gardner (replacement)Edison Theatre
November 14, 1989 – November 19, 1989
1991Lips Together, Teeth ApartSally TrumanNew York City Center
May 28, 1991 – January 5, 1992
1999The Mineola TwinsMyrna/MyraLaura Pels Theatre
February 18, 1999 – May 30, 1999
1999The Vagina MonologuesUnknownWestside Theatre
October 03, 1999 – January 26, 2003
2002The GuysUnknownThe Flea Theater
January 17, 2002 – December 20, 2002
2002Imaginary FriendsLillian HellmanEthel Barrymore Theatre
December 12, 2002 – February 16, 2003
2003Intrigue with FayeWomanAcorn Theater
June 11, 2003 – July 16, 2003
2004FrozenNancyCircle in the Square Theatre
May 4, 2004 – August 22, 2004
2006Heartbreak HouseHesione HushabyeAmerican Airlines Theatre
October 11, 2006 – December 17, 2006

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAwardCategoryNominated WorkResult
1978Tony AwardBest Performance by a Featured Actress in a PlayTartuffeNominated
Drama Desk AwardOutstanding Featured Actress in a PlayUncommon Women and OthersNominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a MusicalA History of the American FilmWon
1981Tony AwardBest Performance by a Featured Actress in a PlayFifth of JulyWon
Drama Desk AwardOutstanding Featured Actress in a PlayWon
Outer Critics Circle AwardOutstanding Actress in a PlayWon
1982Emmy AwardLead Actress in a Comedy SeriesLove, SidneyNominated
1986Tony AwardBest Performance by a Featured Actress in a PlayThe House of Blue LeavesWon
Drama Desk AwardOutstanding Actress in a PlayNominated
1993Emmy AwardLead Actress in a Drama SeriesSistersNominated
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or SpecialAnd the Band Played OnNominated
1998Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesERNominated
1999Drama Desk AwardOutstanding Actress in a PlayThe Mineola TwinsNominated
Drama League AwardDistinguished PerformanceNominated
Outer Critics Circle AwardOutstanding Actress in a PlayNominated
2004Tony AwardBest Performance by a Leading Actress in a PlayFrozenNominated
Outer Critics Circle AwardOutstanding Actress in a PlayNominated
2005Emmy AwardGuest Actress in a Drama SeriesHuffNominated
2007Tony AwardBest Performance by a Leading Actress in a PlayHeartbreak HouseNominated


  1. ^ Swoosie Kurtz - Profile, Latest News and Related Articles
  2. ^ Swoosie Kurtz Biography (1944-)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ National Archives photo 342-FH-3A40681A-21320AC shows the B-17 crew that broke all records in the Pacific. Annotated photo available at Fold3 with crew list on the reverse side
  5. ^ Friends Journal, published by the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., Vol 31, No 3, Fall 2008, p 15
  6. ^ Poll, Julie (1996). As the World Turns: The Complete Family Scrapbook, Special 40th Anniversary Edition. General Publishing Group. p. 295. 

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