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Camryn Manheim

Camryn Manheim

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Also Known As: Debra Manheim Died:
Born: March 8, 1961 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Caldwell, New Jersey, USA Profession: actor, improvisation teacher at NYU, sign language interpreter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A full-figured, self-described "Amazon," Camryn Manheim stands at 5'10" and weighs upwards of 200 pounds, but without being self-deprecating has managed to turn this into a career asset. She scored a personal triumph with her one-person Off-Broadway hit "Wake Up, I'm Fat" which has led to a growing number of roles in all media. Manheim landed the regular role of the opinionated lawyer Ellenor Frutt on the ABC series "The Practice" (1997- ). Her best-recalled big screen roles were "The Road to Wellville" (1994), in which she appeared in the nude and spent most of the time explaining the ins and outs of the spa to Bridget Fonda, and "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" (1997), in which she was Toby, the perennial organizer of events and object of Janeane Garofalo's barbs.Born in New Jersey and raised in Illinois and California by her teacher parents, Manheim moved to NYC after college to pursue graduate studies at NYU. Overlooked for parts because of her size, she lost 87 pounds and became a leading player, although once she graduated and was unable to find steady employment, she gained back the weight. Fellow NYU student Tony Kushner provided a role for her Off-Off-Broadway debut in "Hydriotaphia"...

A full-figured, self-described "Amazon," Camryn Manheim stands at 5'10" and weighs upwards of 200 pounds, but without being self-deprecating has managed to turn this into a career asset. She scored a personal triumph with her one-person Off-Broadway hit "Wake Up, I'm Fat" which has led to a growing number of roles in all media. Manheim landed the regular role of the opinionated lawyer Ellenor Frutt on the ABC series "The Practice" (1997- ). Her best-recalled big screen roles were "The Road to Wellville" (1994), in which she appeared in the nude and spent most of the time explaining the ins and outs of the spa to Bridget Fonda, and "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" (1997), in which she was Toby, the perennial organizer of events and object of Janeane Garofalo's barbs.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Illinois and California by her teacher parents, Manheim moved to NYC after college to pursue graduate studies at NYU. Overlooked for parts because of her size, she lost 87 pounds and became a leading player, although once she graduated and was unable to find steady employment, she gained back the weight. Fellow NYU student Tony Kushner provided a role for her Off-Off-Broadway debut in "Hydriotaphia" in 1987. Playwright-director Michael Mayer cast her in seven productions and Stephen Sondheim helped her find an agent. Manheim received an OBIE Award for her performance in a 1994 production of Craig Lucas' "Missing Persons".

While she has been able to carve a career as an actress, Manheim has often been rejected for roles because of her height and/or weight. Adamantly avoiding caricature roles, she has found work on New York-based soap operas, made four guest appearances on NBC's "Law & Order" and appeared in episodes of "Touched By an Angel" and "Chicago Hope" and had supporting roles in such projects as "Notes For My Daughter", a 1995 "ABC Afterschool Special", and the CBS TV-movie "Deadly Whispers" (1995). Manheim took home a 1998 Emmy and a 1999 Golden Globe for her work as "The Practice" hard-driving and occasionally ethically-challenged Eleanor Frutt, and her excellent dramatic work and off-screen popularity helped her survive the infamous 2003 bloodletting in which several long-standing castmembers--including leads Lara Flynn Boyle and Dylan McDermott--were released from the series. Building on her series success, Manheim nabbed supporting roles in numerous film and TV projects, including playing a post-modern Snow White in the miniseries "The 10th Kingdom" (2000), the Garry Shandling comedy "What Planet Are You From?" (2000), the respected indie "The Tic Code" (2000), the acclaimed HBO biopic "The Larramie Project" (2002), the horror movie spoof "Scary Movie 3" (2003) and director Phillip Kaufman's thriller "Twisted" (2004). In 2005 she landed the key role of Gladys Presley, mother of the future king of rock and roll in the CBS TV miniseries "Elvis," and she had a supporting turn as a school teacher in the horror thriller "Dark Water," starring Jennifer Connelly.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Fort McCoy (2014)
2.
 Return to Sender (2014)
3.
 Hot Flashes, The (2013)
4.
 Makeover, The (2013)
5.
6.
7.
 Love Hurts (2009)
8.
 Slipstream (2007)
9.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Peoria, Illinois, Michigan and Southern California
1977:
First professional "acting" work as a wench at the Renaissance Faire in Los Angeles
1987:
Made New York stage debut in Tony Kushner's "Hydriotaphia"
1990:
Made screen debut with bit in "The Bonfire of the Vanities"
1991:
Had early TV work guest-starring on "Law & Order" (NBC) for the first of four times
1993:
Starred in one-person Off-Broadway show, "Wake Up, I'm Fat"
1994:
Co-starred in "The Road to Wellville"
1995:
Made TV-movie debut in "Deadly Whispers" (CBS)
1997:
Had small role in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"
1997:
Played the regular supporting role of attorney Ellenor Frutt on "The Practice" (ABC)
1998:
Signed to pen a book tentatively titled "Wake Up, I'm Fat" (after her stage show); reportedly will receive in the neighborhood of $500,000
2000:
Played Snow White in the television mini series "The 10th Kingdom"
2001:
Appeared in "A Girl Thing," which starred Kate Capshaw, Stockard Channing and Mia Farrow
2002:
Cast in "The Laramie Project," the true story of an American town in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard
2003:
Cast in the comedy "Scary Movie 3" written by the Wayans brothers
2005:
Earned an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Gladys Presley in the CBS miniseries "Elvis"
2005:
Cast in Lasse Hallström's "An Unfinished Life" with Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Cabrillo Junior College: Santa Cruz , California -
University of California at Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz , California - 1984
New York University: New York , New York - 1987

Notes

Manheim rides a motorcycle and has since finishing at NYU also worked and volunteered as a sign language interpreter for the hearing-impaired.

She has 12 earrings in her right ear.

"I'm fat . . . a sexy, confident woman who embraces herself and isn't afraid." --Camryn Manheim in PEOPLE, November 21, 1994

"All the kids in California walked around in bathing suits; people went grocery shopping in bikinis. It was horrifying for me. I think gaining weight was a shield against that body-image stuff." --Manheim in PEOPLE, November 21, 1994

"She can play anyone." --stage director Michael Mayer in PEOPLE, November 21, 1994

"Someone has to dispel these myths that we [overweight people] are pathetic slobs. Yes, I'm fat. Yes, if there were a magic pill to make my body thin, I would take it. But I'm going to stop beating myself up, because what's inside that body is so worthwhile." --Manheim in PEOPLE, November 21, 1994

"There was a certain lack of support for Camryn at NYU. So she was pretty insecure. But Camryn is phenomenally talented and was perfect for the lead, so I cast her, which sort of shocked her. She was worried she wouldn't be taken seriously as a grown-up woman with adult sexual desires. She had no reason to be nervous. She's quite beautiful, immensely passionate." --Playwright Tony Kushner in THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 23, 1994

"I want to create my own type. I'm a five-foot-10 Amazon who isn't afraid to be naked or to kiss men or to be sexual anymore. I'm not pathetic, and I'm not self-deprecating. But I am still looking for a boyfriend, so I'd be really grateful if you could slip that in [the article] somewhere." --Manheim in THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 23, 1994

"I have always felt like a misfit in Hollywood, Well, actually, like a misfit in life. To be included in this very elite club [the Emmys] was more than just an honor. It felt like the fighting and the struggles I've been through will finally see an end." --Manheim quoted in USA TODAY, August 25, 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Gregory Hines. Actor, dancer. Reportedly dated in summer 1998.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jerry Manheim. College math professor.
mother:
Sylvia Manheim. Schoolteacher.
brother:
Karl Manheim. Lawyer. Older.
sister:
Lisa Manheim. Older.
son:
Milo Jacob Manheim. Born on March 6, 2001; Manheim refuses to identify the child's father.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Wake Up, I'm Fat!" Broadway Books

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