skip navigation
Kate Burton

Kate Burton

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Tony Palmer's Film of in from... Few great actors have been so unfairly represented in the public image. Drunk, a... more info $16.95was $18.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Katherine Burton Died:
Born: September 10, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Switzerland Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Primarily a stage and television actress, Kate Burton managed to forge a career without constant comparisons to her late father, Richard Burton. She was perhaps best known to small screen viewers as Henry Winkler's liberal wife on the ill-fated sitcom "Monty" (Fox, 1994) and later, as a district attorney in a recurring role on the ABC series "The Practice" (1997).Born in Switzerland on Sept. 10, 1957, but raised in Manhattan after her parents' famous divorce, Burton retained her British citizenship, yet considered herself an American actress, having spent most of her life in the USA. Intent on a diplomatic career, she majored in history and Russian studies at Brown before succumbing to the family business in her senior year. Burton went on to earn an MFA at the Yale School of Drama and began her stage career in the 1983 Circle-in-the-Square revival of "Present Laughter," directed by George C Scott. Subsequently, she starred in the title role of "Alice in Wonderland" (in which she made her TV debut in the 1983 PBS version). Among her other well-received stage appearances were the musical "Doonesbury," "Wild Honey," opposite Ian McKellen, "Some Americans Abroad," and the 1995 revival of Stephen...

Primarily a stage and television actress, Kate Burton managed to forge a career without constant comparisons to her late father, Richard Burton. She was perhaps best known to small screen viewers as Henry Winkler's liberal wife on the ill-fated sitcom "Monty" (Fox, 1994) and later, as a district attorney in a recurring role on the ABC series "The Practice" (1997).

Born in Switzerland on Sept. 10, 1957, but raised in Manhattan after her parents' famous divorce, Burton retained her British citizenship, yet considered herself an American actress, having spent most of her life in the USA. Intent on a diplomatic career, she majored in history and Russian studies at Brown before succumbing to the family business in her senior year. Burton went on to earn an MFA at the Yale School of Drama and began her stage career in the 1983 Circle-in-the-Square revival of "Present Laughter," directed by George C Scott. Subsequently, she starred in the title role of "Alice in Wonderland" (in which she made her TV debut in the 1983 PBS version). Among her other well-received stage appearances were the musical "Doonesbury," "Wild Honey," opposite Ian McKellen, "Some Americans Abroad," and the 1995 revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Company."

In 1984, Burton co-starred with her father in the CBS miniseries "Ellis Island" and had featured roles in Showtime's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1987) and as Eugene O'Neill's wife Agnes in "Journey Into Genius" (PBS, 1988). But it really wasn't until the 1990s that her small screen presence increased. Burton played a nun accused of molesting a teenaged girl in a 1991 episode of NBC's "Law & Order" and made her series debut as the mother who mourned the loss of her social activism in "Home Fires" (NBC, 1992). She won a Daytime Emmy as a mother suffering with breast cancer in "Notes For My Daughter," a 1996 "ABC Afterschool Special."

On the big screen, Burton could first be glimpsed in a small role in "Anne of a Thousand Days" (1969), which co-starred her father. Her adult debut was as a ditsy reporter opposite Kurt Russell in "Big Trouble in Little China" (1986). She was the TV Mom featured in clip sequences in "Life With Mikey" (1993) and had her biggest role to date as the younger wife of a professor in "August" (1996), the directorial debut of Anthony Hopkins which transposed Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" from Russia to 19th Century Wales. She next co-starred opposite Bill Pullman in "Mistrial" (HBO, 1996), playing the worried wife of a homicide detective who takes a courtroom hostage after a jury sets a cop killer free. In 1997, she began appearing as District Attorney Susan Anderson on the legal drama, "The Practice" (NBC, 1996-2004), a recurring role that lasted until the show's final episode. Meanwhile, Burton was seen in "Ellen Foster" (CBS, 1997) as the hippyish art teacher of a young foster child (Jena Malone) left with her alcoholic and abusive father (Ted Levine) after the death of her mother (Glynnis O'Connor).

Returning to features, Burton had supporting roles in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" (1997) and Woody Allen's "Celebrity" (1998), then a brief appearance in "The Opportunists" (2000). She then went back to series television with episodes of "100 Centre Street" (A&E, 2000-2002) and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001-2006). In "Obsessed" (Lifetime, 2002), Burton played an attorney who takes the case of a woman (Jenna Elfman) arrested for stalking a physician (Sam Robarbs) while claiming to be having an affair with him. She next played the friend of a bored woman (Diane Lane) who embarks on a steamy extramarital affair in "Unfaithful" (2002), then was the mother of a near-perfect high school senior (Jesse Bradford) whose life is destroyed by an alluring new student (Erika Christensen) with a dark past. An unremarkable performance in "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer" (ABC, 2003), prequel to Stephen King's thriller "Rose Red," was followed by episodes of "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) and "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005).

Burton next had a meatier role in the multi-award-winning miniseries, "Empire Falls" (HBO, 2005), playing the disabled daughter of a small town matriarch (Joanne Woodward) who owns a diner where a man with little ambition (Ed Harris) reflects on his wasted life. Episodes of "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004- ) and "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2004- ) were followed by a recurring role on "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ), playing the famous surgeon mother of a surgical intern (Ellen Pompeo) struggling to follow her footsteps in the competitive environment of a Seattle hospital. Burton made a brief but lasting impression with her performance in "Stay" (2005), playing the strange mother of a psychiatric patient (Ryan Gosling) planning to commit suicide on his 21st birthday. Burton eventually left "Grey's Anatomy" during the 2006-07 season after a dramatic three-episode arc involving a ferry crash and the near-death of her character's daughter, Meredith. In 2006 and 2007, she earned consecutive Emmy award nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Martyrs (2016)
2.
 Bleeding Heart (2015)
3.
 Barefoot (2014)
4.
 Don't Look Back (2014)
5.
 Liberal Arts (2012)
6.
 Puncture (2011)
7.
 127 Hours (2010)
8.
 Remember Me (2010)
9.
 Spooner (2009)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Moved to U.S. at age four; grew up in Manhattan
1969:
Made screen debut in small role in "Anne of a Thousand Days," starring her father Richard Burton
1982:
Made New York stage debut in "Present Laughter"
1983:
Played title role in off-Broadway production of "Alice in Wonderland"; recreated role for PBS version, which also featured her father
1983:
Made stage musical debut in "Doonesbury"
1984:
Co-starred with her father in the CBS miniseries "Ellis Island"
1986:
Had featured role in "Big Trouble in Little China"
1992:
Played the mother on NBC series "Home Fires"
1992:
Landed recurring role on NBC's "Law & Order"
1994:
Appeared as Henry Winkler's wife on short-lived Fox sitcom "Monty"
1996:
Starred in "Notes for My Daughter," an "ABC Afterschool Special"; won Daytime Emmy for performance
1997:
Had featured role in L.A. production of Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia"
1997:
Played recurring role of district attorney Susan Alexander on legal drama "The Practice" (ABC)
1997:
Returned to Broadway, succeeding Kate Nelligan in "An American Daughter"
1998:
Had supporting role in Woody Allen's "Celebrity"
1999:
Assumed leading role in the Broadway production of "The Beauty Queen of Lenane"
2000:
Reprised role in Irish staging of "The Beauty Queen of Lenane" in Waterford
2001:
Received rave reviews for her turn as "Hedda Gabler" on Broadway
2002:
Co-starred as Mrs. Kendal in the Brodway revival of "The Elephant Man," starring Billy Crudup
2002:
Cast opposite Diane Lane in Adrian Lyne's "Unfaithful"
2005:
Cast in HBO miniseries "Empire Falls," based on Richard Russo's novel
2005:
Appeared with Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling in Marc Forster's "Stay"
2005:
Portrayed Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) mother, an ex-surgeon who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease on ABC medical drama "Grey's Anatomy"; earned an Emmy nomination in 2006 and 2007 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2005:
Starred in the revival of W. Somerset Maugham's "The Constant Wife"; earned a Tony nomination for her performance
2008:
Cast alongside Robert De Niro and Sean Penn in "What Just Happened"
2010:
Portrayed Aron Ralston's mother in Danny Boyle's feature adaptation of "127 Hours"
2012:
Played the Vice President on ABC's "Scandal"
2012:
Cast opposite writer and director Josh Radnor in romantic comedy "Liberal Arts"
2015:
Joined the cast of "Extant"
2015:
Nabbed a role in the horror film "Martyrs"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Brown University: Providence , Rhode Island - 1979
School of Drama, Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1982

Notes

"I chose very specifically to stay in the United States because I thought, 'It's going to be hard enough to be Richard Burton's daughter, but if I'm an American actress and I'm a woman, I'll have my own identity. . . . My childhood really was not that screwed up, actually. It was a very constant and consistent childhood, and I think that has served me, especially being in such a nutty business." --Kate Burton in LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 12, 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Michael Ritchie. Stage manager, theatrical producer. Married in June 1985; not to be confused with film director ("Downhill Racer", "Smile") of same name.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Richard Burton. Actor. Died in 1984.
mother:
Sybil Burton. Producer.
godmother:
Radie Harris. Columnist.
step-mother:
Elizabeth Taylor. Actor. Twice married to Richard Burton.
step-father:
Jordan Christopher.
sister:
Jessica Burton. Born c. 1959; autistic.
sister:
Maria Burton. Adopted by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
half-sister:
Amy Christopher.
son:
Morgan Ritchie. Born c. 1988.
daughter:
Charlotte Ritchie. Born c. 1998.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute