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Frances Conroy

Frances Conroy

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 13, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Monroe, Georgia, USA Profession: actress, gift shop employee (at NYC's Museum of Modern Art)

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Classically trained and extremely versatile, actress Frances Conroy crafted a wide-ranging career as a supporting player in an admirable array of films, television projects, and live stage productions. After graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School, she performed in several New York Shakespeare Festival productions prior to making early appearances in films like "Manhattan" (1979) and "Falling in Love" (1984). The increasingly in-demand actress juggled TV guest spots on shows like "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-87), with turns in such films as "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988), as well as award-winning performances in Broadway productions like "The Secret Rapture" (1989). In the early 1990s, Conroy began a fruitful working relationship with American playwright Arthur Miller, starring in a number of his stage efforts over the decade, as well as in the screen adaptation of his classic work, "The Crucible" (1996). However, Conroy would become best known for her role as the emotionally distant matriarch of a troubled family of morticians on the acclaimed cable drama "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2000-05). For her role as the frustratingly naïve Ruth Fisher, Conroy would be nominated for an Emmy for each...

Classically trained and extremely versatile, actress Frances Conroy crafted a wide-ranging career as a supporting player in an admirable array of films, television projects, and live stage productions. After graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School, she performed in several New York Shakespeare Festival productions prior to making early appearances in films like "Manhattan" (1979) and "Falling in Love" (1984). The increasingly in-demand actress juggled TV guest spots on shows like "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-87), with turns in such films as "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988), as well as award-winning performances in Broadway productions like "The Secret Rapture" (1989). In the early 1990s, Conroy began a fruitful working relationship with American playwright Arthur Miller, starring in a number of his stage efforts over the decade, as well as in the screen adaptation of his classic work, "The Crucible" (1996). However, Conroy would become best known for her role as the emotionally distant matriarch of a troubled family of morticians on the acclaimed cable drama "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2000-05). For her role as the frustratingly naïve Ruth Fisher, Conroy would be nominated for an Emmy for each season of the show, in addition to winning a Golden Globe for her portrayal. Post-"Six Feet Under" work found her making several noteworthy appearances on the hit series "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012), and sharing screen time with Robert De Niro in the crime drama "Stone" (2010). Though seldom receiving top-billing in her numerable projects, Conroy nonetheless became one of the most respected working actresses during her time on stage and screen.

Born on Nov. 13, 1953 in Monroe, GA, Conroy grew up in and around the New York City area and was encouraged by her parents to pursue her interest in theater from an early age. After attending high school in Long Island, she trained at NYC's prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse and graduated from the Juilliard Schoolâ¿¿s drama division, attending workshops taught by revered guest lecturers, such as actor John Houseman. Conroy went on to appear in numerous New York Shakespeare Festival productions, including "Measure for Measure" (1976), and starred as Desdemona in "Othello" (1979), alongside Richard Dreyfuss and Raul Julia. Conroy made one of her earliest feature film appearances in director Woody Allenâ¿¿s tale of a middle-aged manâ¿¿s quest for love, "Manhattan" (1979), appearing briefly as a Shakespearian actress. In addition to her already impressive list of stage credits, Conroy began making appearances in television fare, such as the political biopic "Kennedy" (NBC, 1983), which covered the assassinated presidentâ¿¿s all-too-brief term in office. The following year saw Conroy landing another small role in the Robert De Niro/Meryl Streep romantic drama "Falling in Love" (1984). Work in episodic television also began to come her way, as with her leading role in a segment of the second revival of the classic science fiction anthology series "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-87) in 1986.

Before long, both the frequency of Conroyâ¿¿s film work and the size of her roles increased, and she found herself working with an impressive array of actors and directors. Supporting roles included a turn in director Mike Newellâ¿¿s "Amazing Grace and Chuck" (1987) alongside Gregory Peck and Jamie Leigh Curtis; in "Rocket Gibraltar" (1988) as one of star Burt Lancasterâ¿¿s daughters; and in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988) as a wealthy woman targeted by hilariously immoral con men Michael Caine and Steve Martin. That same year, she reunited with Woody Allen with a small part in his forgotten drama "Another Woman" (1988), starring Gena Rowlands, Mia Farrow and Gene Hackman. Combining the stage with the small screen, Conroy played Mrs. Gibbs in a televised production of Thorton Wilderâ¿¿s "Our Town" (PBS, 1989). The acclaimed theatrical adaptation, with famed monologist Spaulding Gray in the role of the Stage Manager, was originally performed at Broadwayâ¿¿s Lyceum Theater and aired as a part of the ongoing series "Great Performances" (PBS, 1972- ). Conroy won her first Drama Desk Award that same year for her performance as Marion French, an ambitious conservative politician in David Hare's "The Secret Rapture" (1989). There was another brief appearance in Allenâ¿¿s "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989), in addition to a small part in the period mob drama "Billy Bathgate" (1991), starring Dustin Hoffman as crime boss Dutch Schultz.

In 1992, Conroy began what would prove to be an exceptionally rewarding and collaborative relationship with the legendary playwright Arthur Miller, when she appeared in his off-Broadway play "The Last Yankee," earning an OBIE Award for her performance. Other credits on her growing film résumé included turns in such efforts as "Scent of A Woman" (1992), starring Al Pacino; an adaptation of the Mark Twain classic "The Adventures of Huck Finn" (1993), with a young Elijah Wood in the title role; and the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic blockbuster "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993). She later appeared in Miller's drama "Broken Glass" at Broadway⿿s Booth Theater in 1994, followed by the feature film adaptation of the playwright⿿s metaphorical parable on the communist witch hunts of the 1950s, "The Crucible" (1996), for which he also wrote the screenplay. Conroy once again reteamed with Miller for the theatrical mounting of his drama "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" in 1998, a role for which she garnered a Tony nomination when she reprised it two years later on Broadway. Interspersed with her busy rotating schedule of stage and screen work, Conroy continued to rack up TV credits, such as a second appearance on the long-running legal system procedural "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) in 1999. The following year, she was cast as Ruth Fisher in the quirky, dysfunctional family drama "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2000-05). It was in the role of the well-intentioned, albeit, neurotic and emotionally disconnected mother of the Fisher clan that Conroy earned several Emmy nominations and won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama in 2004.

Even as "Six Feet Under" entered its final season, Conroy continued to appear in major feature films â¿¿ among them, Martin Scorseseâ¿¿s biopic covering the early days of Howard Hughes, "The Aviator" (2004), in addition to a turn in the embarrassing comic book adaptation "Catwoman" (2004), featuring a latex-clad Halle Berry. She also had a role in the romantic comedy based on the novel by Steve Martin "Shopgirl" (2005), starring Martin and Claire Danes, and appeared as an ex-girlfriend of Bill Murrayâ¿¿s in the Jim Jarmusch quasi-mystery "Broken Flowers" (2005). Other work included turns in the less-than-successful remake of the occult classic "The Wicker Man" (2006), starring Nicholas Cage, and the poorly-received adaptation of the childrenâ¿¿s fantasy novel "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising" (2007). Conroy also tried her hand at voice work in the animated fable "The Tale of Despereaux" (2008), and returned to TV that same year with the recurring role of Virginia Hildebrand on the hit melodrama "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). She played Jennifer Anistonâ¿¿s mother in the romantic drama "Love Happens" (2009), prior to joining the cast of the critically snubbed "Happy Town" (ABC, 2009-10), an ill-prepared mix of David Lynch and Stephen King storytelling, which was cancelled shortly after its premiere. As the decade came to a close, Conroy kept busy with guest spots on programs like "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005-2014) (on which she had a recurring role as Barney Stinson's mother Loretta), "Greyâ¿¿s Anatomy" (ABC, 2004- ), and picked up recurring voice work on "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated" (Cartoon Network, 2009- ) as the voice of Angie Dinkley, mother of bespectacled teen-sleuth Velma. She also impressed in a supporting role as Robert De Niroâ¿¿s pious wife in the ensemble thriller "Stone" (2010), co-starring Edward Norton.

In 2011, she joined the cast of Ryan Murphy's anthology series "American Horror Story" (FX 2011- ), playing various characters for each season. While keeping busy with her steadily increasing TV work, she returned to the big screen with a supporting role in the family comedy-drama "Chasing Ghosts" (2014).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
3.
 Ring of Fire (2013)
4.
 6 Souls (2013)
5.
 Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz (2011) Glinda the Good Witch
6.
 Waking Madison (2011)
7.
 Bloodworth (2010)
8.
 Stone (2010)
9.
10.
 Love Happens (2009)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised on Long Island in New York
:
Was a member of The Acting Company under John Houseman
1976:
Made stage debut in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Measure for Measure"
1978:
Essayed the role of Cordelia in The Acting Company production of "King Lear" at American Place Theatre
1979:
Won acclaim for her performance as Desdemona opposite Raul Julia and Richard Dreyfuss in the Central Park production of "Othello"
1979:
One of her first film roles was playing a Shakespearean actress in Woody Allen's "Manhattan"
1980:
Broadway debut as Jo in Edward Albee's "The Lady from Dubuque"
1982:
Had a small role in the CBS TV-movie "The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana"
1985:
Joined the acting company at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California
1987:
Cast in a small role in Mike Newell's "Amazing Grace and Chuck" starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Gregory Peck
1987:
Appeared in the TV-movie, "LBJ: The Early Years" (NBC)
1988:
Appeared in the film "Rocket Gibraltar" opposite Burt Lancaster and Kevin Spacey
1988:
Cast as Mrs. Gibbs in the Lincoln Center production of "Our Town" (reprised role for the PBS production a year later)
1988:
Again collaborated with director, Woody Allen for "Another Woman"
1989:
Third film with Woody Allen, "Crimes and Misdemeanors"
1990:
Won acclaim for her performance in David Hare's "The Secret Rapture"
1991:
Cast in the Broadway production of "Two Shakespearean Actors"
1992:
Had a small role in "Scent of a Woman" starring Al Pacino
1993:
Appeared in the first of four Arthur Miller works in "The Last Yankee"
1993:
Played a small role in the Nora Ephron directed "Sleepless in Seattle"
1994:
Portrayed Margaret Hyman in Miller's Broadway play "Broken Glass"
1995:
Co-starred in the feature "Angela" directed by Rebecca Miller (Arthur's daughter)
1996:
Played Ann Putman in the film version of "The Crucible" (Miller adapted his play for the screen)
1997:
Essayed the role of Birdie Hubbard in "The Little Foxes"
1998:
Appeared in NYSF production of "The Skin of Our Teeth" opposite former "Roseanne" star John Goodman
1999:
Replaced Blythe Danner in role of Theo, one of Patrick Stewart's two wives, in Miller's Off-Broadway, "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan"
2000:
Nominated for Tony when she reprised her role for the Broadway production of "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" (again opposite Stewart)
2001:
Starred as the matriarch of a family that runs a mortuary in the HBO series "Six Feet Under"; earned four Best Actress Emmy nominations (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006)
2004:
Starred as Ophelia Powers in "Catwoman" opposite Halle Berry in the title role
2005:
Cast opposite Claire Danes and Steve Martin in "Shopgirl" (adapted by Martin from his novella)
2006:
After a six-year absence, returned to the theater in David Greig's "Pyrenees"
2007:
Cast as Jennifer Westfeldt's (Abby) mother in "Ira and Abby," a comedy feature written and produced by Westfeldt
2008:
Co-starred in "Humboldt County" a film about a community of counterculture pot farmers
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Education

Dickinson College: Carlisle , Pennsylvania -
The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre: New York , New York -
The Juilliard School: New York , New York - 1977

Notes

On the necessity of actors to constantly look for work, even while employed, Frances Conroy told TheaterWeek (October 30-November 5, 1989): "It's almost as if you're not allowed to savor something before you start going out on interviews for other things."

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Jan Munroe. Actor, mime. Married in 1992.

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