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Christine Lahti

Christine Lahti

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 4, 1950 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Birmingham, Michigan, USA Profession: actor, director, mime, waitress

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Beginning in the late 1970s, acclaimed film, television and stage actress Christine Lahti carved out a niche for herself in an emerging field for Hollywood actresses - roles as professional, independent career women. Uninterested in wasting her dedication to acting on thinly-written supporting roles as girlfriends and wives, Lahti was in the right place at the right time and gave strong showings in character-driven films like "Whose Life is it Anyway?" (1981), "Swing Shift" (1984) and "Running on Empty" (1988), for which she earned an Academy Award nomination. In between film roles as smart, compassionate doctors, lawyers, and educators, Lahti was a constant television presence with her Golden Globe-winning run on the medical drama "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000) and award-winning telepics like the homeless family chronicle "No Place Like Home" (CBS, 1989). Throughout her career, Lahti regularly revisited her roots as a theater actress, notably in several plays by Wendy Wasserstein, and also branched out to direct episodic TV and films, making her one of the most respected women in Hollywood and one with a palpable commitment to quality storytelling.

Beginning in the late 1970s, acclaimed film, television and stage actress Christine Lahti carved out a niche for herself in an emerging field for Hollywood actresses - roles as professional, independent career women. Uninterested in wasting her dedication to acting on thinly-written supporting roles as girlfriends and wives, Lahti was in the right place at the right time and gave strong showings in character-driven films like "Whose Life is it Anyway?" (1981), "Swing Shift" (1984) and "Running on Empty" (1988), for which she earned an Academy Award nomination. In between film roles as smart, compassionate doctors, lawyers, and educators, Lahti was a constant television presence with her Golden Globe-winning run on the medical drama "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000) and award-winning telepics like the homeless family chronicle "No Place Like Home" (CBS, 1989). Throughout her career, Lahti regularly revisited her roots as a theater actress, notably in several plays by Wendy Wasserstein, and also branched out to direct episodic TV and films, making her one of the most respected women in Hollywood and one with a palpable commitment to quality storytelling.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  My First Mister (2001) Director
2.
  Lieberman in Love (1995) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Truck Stop (2013)
3.
 Flying Lessons (2010)
4.
 Obsessed (2009)
5.
 Yonkers Joe (2008)
6.
 Smart People (2008)
7.
8.
 Book of Ruth, The (2004) Maylene Grey
9.
 Open House (2003) Samantha Morrow
10.
 Out of the Ashes (2003) Dr. Gisella Perl
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as a singing waitress one summer during college; travelled to Scotland as a member of the Ann Arbor Mime Troupe, then went to London, appearing in a mime production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest"
1973:
Moved to New York City; supported herself as a waitress by day and performed off-off Broadway by night; even worked as a mime for a while in Central Park, battling an imaginary wind as her roommate honked inexpertly on a clarinet
:
Appeared in commercials first for rug shampoo Spray 'n Vac, then for eight other products including Sominex and Joy dishwashing liquid
1977:
First Off-Broadway appearance as the female lead opposite Chris Sarandon in David Mamet's "The Woods" at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater
1978:
TV debut as Tania Reston in live-action, comic book adventure (movie-series pilot) "Dr Scorpion"
1978:
Had regular role as Harvey Korman's daughter in short-lived ABC sitcom "The Harvey Korman Show"
1979:
Feature film acting debut in "... And Justice For All"
1979:
Succeeded Roxane Hart opposite Kevin Kline in Michael Weller's Off-Broadway play, "Loose Ends"
1980:
Made Broadway debut in Steve Tesich's "Division Street"
1981:
Turned in excellent portrayal of a doctor in John Badham's feature "Whose Life Is It Anyway?"
1982:
Played Brenda Nicol in NBC miniseries "The Executioner's Song", based on the Norman Mailer book
1984:
Breakthrough film role in "Swing Shift" earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
1987:
Her Emmy nomination (Best Supporting Actress) was perhaps the lone high point of the ABC miniseries "Amerika", a ponderous 14-hour epic which incurred the wrath of the UN and USSR before airing
1987:
Delivered a wonderful performance as the free-spirited aunt in the underrated Housekeeping"
1988:
Starred with River Phoenix and Judd Hirsch in Sidney Lumet's "Running on Empty"
1989:
Appeared on Broadway (replacing Joan Allen) in Wendy Wasserstein's "The Heidi Chronicles"
1991:
Won a CableACE Award for Best Actress for her performance in the TNT movie "Crazy from the Heart", directed by husband Thomas Schlamme
1991:
Acted opposite William Hurt in "The Doctor"
1992:
Was atypically insufferable in the female buddy flick "Leaving Normal"
1992:
Starred with Ron Rifkin in the Off-Broadway production of Jon Robin Baitz's "Three Hotels"
1995:
Replaced Mandy Patinkin as a star of CBS drama "Chicago Hope", playing ambitious cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr Kathryn Austin; left series in spring of 1999
1995:
Directorial debut, "Lieberman in Love", earned her an Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film; also starred opposite Danny Aiello; film aired on Showtime cable network
1997:
Starred in TNT movie "Hope", directed by "Swing Shift" co-star Goldie Hawn
1999:
Signed to make feature directorial debut with "My First Mister"
2000:
Had leading role of a US Senator's daughter nominated to be Surgeon General in the Lifetime adaptation of "An American Daughter" based on Wendy Wasserstein's play
2001:
Feature directorial debut, "My First Mister", screened at Sundance
2003:
Cast in lead role of a female Jewish doctor who survived the Holocaust in the Showtime biopic "Out of the Ashes"
2004:
Cast as Grace McCallister in the WB drama "Jack and Bobby"; received Golden Globe (2004) and SAG (2005) nominations for Best Actress in a Drama Series
2006:
Cast as a minister and bible scholar in the Playwrights Horizons production of Keith Bunin's "The Busy World is Hushed"
2009:
Will play a recurring role on "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC) as assistant district attorney
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Florida State University: Tallahassee , Florida -
Herbert Berghof Studio: New York , New York -
Neighborhood Studio: New York , New York -
University of Michigan: Ann Arbor , Michigan - 1972
University of Michigan: Ann Arbor , Michigan - 1972

Notes

For the 1989 CBS movie "No Place Like Home", directed by Lee Grant, Lahti earned Best Actress honors at the Third Annual FIPA (Festival International da Programmes Audiovisuels) in Cannes, France.

"I love to play these crazy, neurotic and vulnerable women."---Christine Lahti to The New York Post, 1980.

"I think the way my career has gone has been absolutely right. It's been slow and steady. Because I'm not a big star, I've been able to take risks."---Christine Lahti quoted in the "The Baby Boomers" by James Robert Parish and Don Stanke, 1992.

Lahti once turned down a plum national TV commercial, rather than have sex . . . with two directors [the price for her big break]: "I should have done it. It would have saved me a lot of time. When I turned him [the casting agent] down he told me, 'You're not that special. You're not that gorgeous. You don't know anybody in the business. You'll never make it any other way. This is the way women have to do it.' It was such an eye-opener for me. So insulting. And it never occurred to me that I wouldn't be taken seriously for my talent. So that day I became a feminist. Since then my whole determination, my whole career has been to gain respect. It was never about fame. Never. I wanted to be respected as an actor, and now that I am, I could use a little fame and fortune."---Christine Lahti to TV Guide, August 19, 1995.

On taking a lackluster "earnest mom" role in "Hideaway" (1995): "At the time, I needed to get back to work. I had just had the twins. I needed to make some money, so I'm glad I did it. But I thought, 'I'm being wasted and I don't want to do that anymore.' I'm at my prime creatively, and suddenly I'm in an industry where I'm supposed to be invisible. Or less valuable. When I feel I'm at the peak. My peak."---Christine Lahti to The Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1995.

"I know there are things about her that people don't like, but I don't care. I just love her. I think she has a great heart; she just makes mistakes. You know, she's human."---Lahti on her "Chicago Hope" character to The New York Times, February 15, 1998.

In a memorable, show-stopping absence that generated considerable publicity, Lahti ended up in the ladies' room at the exact instant she was to accept her 1997 Golden Globe Award as best actress in a drama series for her role as Dr Kathryn Austin on "Chicago Hope". Enjoying the moment when she eventually hit the stage wearing a black Herve Leger gown and wide-screen grin, she grabbed a dinner napkin from Robin Williams and used it nonchalantly to dry her hands.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Thomas Schlamme. Director. Married on September 4, 1983; father of three children.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Paul Theodore Lahti. Surgeon. Of Finnish ancestry (Lahti means "bay of water" and is also the name of a town north of Helsinki).
mother:
Elizabeth M Lahti. Former nurse, painter. Had six children by Paul Lahti; of Finnish ancestry; died on December 23, 1995 of unreported causes at age 75.
son:
Wilson Schlamme. Born on July 5, 1988 in Jackson MI.
son:
Joseph Schlamme. Born on August 3, 1993; twin of Emma.
daughter:
Emma Schlamme. Born on August 3, 1993; twin of Joseph.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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