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Dana Delany

Dana Delany

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Also Known As: Dana Welles Delany Died:
Born: March 13, 1956 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An Emmy Award-winning actress, Dana Delany first made her mark on primetime audiences during the 1980s as the star of the Vietnam War-set medical drama "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-1991). After her role as a mild-mannered Midwestern nurse with the highly desirable hairstyle, Delany became a frequent star in made-for-TV-movies like "Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story" (1995) and "True Women" (CBS, 1997), where she embodied "every day" women who found great courage in the face of adversity. Feature films rarely offered as many challenging portraits of heroic women, and while Delany did make supporting film appearances, she spent the majority of her career as a mainstay on hour-long medical, family, and legal dramas, earning considerable attention for her run on the dramedy "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). Meanwhile, Delany held down a lucrative side career as an animation voiceover artist, primarily playing Lois Lane in the DC animated universe as well as on "The Batman" (The WB/The CW, 2004-08). But it was live action where Delany truly thrived and after her run on "Desperate Housewives" ended, she moved on to another hit show, "Body of Proof" (ABC, 2011- ), where she played a former...

An Emmy Award-winning actress, Dana Delany first made her mark on primetime audiences during the 1980s as the star of the Vietnam War-set medical drama "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-1991). After her role as a mild-mannered Midwestern nurse with the highly desirable hairstyle, Delany became a frequent star in made-for-TV-movies like "Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story" (1995) and "True Women" (CBS, 1997), where she embodied "every day" women who found great courage in the face of adversity. Feature films rarely offered as many challenging portraits of heroic women, and while Delany did make supporting film appearances, she spent the majority of her career as a mainstay on hour-long medical, family, and legal dramas, earning considerable attention for her run on the dramedy "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). Meanwhile, Delany held down a lucrative side career as an animation voiceover artist, primarily playing Lois Lane in the DC animated universe as well as on "The Batman" (The WB/The CW, 2004-08). But it was live action where Delany truly thrived and after her run on "Desperate Housewives" ended, she moved on to another hit show, "Body of Proof" (ABC, 2011- ), where she played a former neurosurgeon turned medical examiner. Delanyâ¿¿s performance confirmed that she was an actress of considerable range able to tackle a wide array of complicated roles.

Born March 13, 1956, Delany was raised in upper-middle-class Stamford, CT. As a child, she was inspired to act by the Broadway shows her family attended as well as her intense love of movies. She first took the stage while attending the tony Phillips Academy in Massachusetts, and at Wesleyan University she studied theater and began building a resume in summer stock productions. Delany graduated with a Bachelors degree in 1978, and found work in New York in TV commercials and on daytime serials like "Love of Life" (CBS, 1951-1980) and "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956-2010). Her first notoriety, however, came for her stage work. She was cast as the young version of Roy Dotrice's wife in the Broadway production of Hugh Leonard's play, "A Life," and received some positive ink for her dual role in Nicholas Kazan's "Blood Moon." When she moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, Delany got right to work with guest spots on shows like "Magnum, P.I." (CBS, 1980-88) and "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-89). A few TV movies later, she hit theaters in the Rob Lowe-headlined thriller "Masquerade" (1988), and played a member of the extremist political group the SLA in "Patty Hearst" (1988), directed by Paul Schrader.

Delany became a primetime regular and a recognizable TV star later that year when she was cast as lead actor on the risky ABC series, "China Beach," a medical drama set during the Vietnam War. The relative unknown took center stage in the ensemble series, playing wholesome, Midwestern Army nurse Colleen McMurphy. She took home two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe nominations for her powerful performance as a young woman transformed by the realities of war. So popular was the actress that the Colleen McMurphy 'bob' hairstyle became something of fashion craze during the show's brief but illustrious run. The series was continuously praised by critics, but low ratings led to its cancellation in 1991. Regardless, Delany had already proven her screen appeal as a relatable everywoman who found unknown strength when faced with adversity. She segued right into a string of supporting feature film roles, playing a suburban professional in the hit romantic comedy "Housesitter" (1992) starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and re-teaming with Schrader as Willem Dafoe's suicidal ex-lover in "Light Sleeper" (1992).

After delivering fine support opposite Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp in the solidly entertaining Western, "Tombstone" (1993), Delany tackled her first screen lead as a leather-clad dominatrix in Garry Marshall's dreadful crime-sex farce "Exit to Eden" (1994). She recovered her reputation when she refocused on her strength for inspirational everyday-women-turned-heroines; first taking the leading role in the Lifetime biopic, "Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story" (1995), about the famed women's health pioneer, and following that up as a schoolteacher stricken with scleroderma in "For Hope" (ABC, 1996). That project also launched the actress' career-long philanthropic efforts on behalf of scleroderma-related charities. The following year, she launched another career-long endeavor: voicing animated versions of Lois Lane. From her debut as the Daily Planet reporter and Superman-swooner in "Superman: The Animated Series" (The WB, 1996-2000), Delany briefly returned to the big screen to support Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin in the acclaimed and visually stunning family film, "Fly Away Home" (1996).

More voiceover work followed with the animated series "Batman: The Animated Series" (Fox, 1992-95), and Delany cemented her image as a movie-of-the-week heroine by starring as a Texas suffragette in the Western miniseries, "True Women" (CBS, 1997), and as one-half of a Dutch farm couple who harbor Jews during WWII in the 1998 Showtime original, "Rescuers: Stories of Courage: Two Couples." Mixing things up with a family comedy and an edge-of-your-seat thriller, Delany had supporting big screen roles in "Wide Awake" (1998) and "Curve" (1998) before stepping into Ellen Burstyn's Oscar-nominated role as a car crash survivor who develops healing powers in a TV remake of "Resurrection" (ABC, 1999). She returned to the stage in the Pulitzer-winning off-Broadway play "Dinner with Friends" in 2000, while a guest turn on an episode of CBS' "Family Law" (CBS, 1999-2002) netted Delany another Emmy nomination. In the fall of 2001, she returned to regular series work with a leading role as a society heiress on Fox's soapy serial, "Pasadena" (Fox, 2001), which paired her again with her "Rescuers" onscreen husband, Martin Donovan.

When that series was unceremoniously cancelled early in its run, Delany was quickly snapped up by CBS to play an oncologist in "Presidio Med" (CBS, 2002-03), an hour-long medical drama about a group of renegade doctors who eschew modern bureaucracy for a more hands-on, patient-centered approach to medicine. Despite a solid cast, "Presidio Med" was cancelled after only a few episodes, but Delany continued to be highly sought after for TV movies, even as her feature film offers dwindled significantly. She offered a passionate performance as a Quaker teacher who helps a hardened criminal (Omar Epps) earn his college degree after a brush with Shakespeare's sonnets invigorates his mind in "Conviction" (Showtime, 2002), and in "A Time to Remember" (Hallmark, 2003), she starred as the estranged daughter of a woman (Doris Roberts) suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She reprised her Lois Lane voiceover role on the animated series "Justice League Unlimited" (Cartoon Network, 2004-06), and in 2004, Delany starred in the heart-tugging true story "Baby for Sale" (Lifetime, 2004), as a woman who agrees to go undercover to expose a baby-selling ring.

Guest appearances on "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08), "Kojak" (USA Network, 2005) and "Related" (The WB, 2005-06), led to Delany's casting on the NBC crime drama "Kidnapped" (2006-07), where she and Timothy Hutton played the wealthy parents of a kidnapped teen who join forces with a former FBI agent to find their son. She soldiered on after that failed outing to finally find some stability on an acclaimed and long-running series, following up her role as a U.S. senator on "The L Word" (Showtime, 2004-09) by becoming an additional cast member on the top-rated campy serial, "Desperate Housewives." As Katherine Mayfair, a former resident of Wisteria Lane who moves back to the suburban neighborhood with a mysterious secret about her absence and her family, Delany proved an invigorating sparring partner with über-perfect neighbor Bree Van de Camp (Marcia Cross). Delany went on to share the show's 2008 and 2009 Screen Actors Guild nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. In 2010, she starred opposite "Desperate" co-star Nathan Fillion in two episodes of "Castle" (ABC, 2009- ), where she played an FBI agent, but left "Housewives" that same year to star in her own show, "Body of Proof" (ABC, 2011- ), where she played a brilliant neurosurgeon who loses the dexterity in her hands after an accident and becomes a medical examiner instead. The series was warmly received, though a retooling of the cast before season three may have led to a poor showing in the ratings in early 2013.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Camp Hope (2011)
2.
3.
 Route 30 (2009)
4.
 Poliwood (2009)
5.
6.
 Baby for Sale (2004) Nathalie Johnson
7.
 Spin (2003) Margaret Swift-Bejarano
8.
 Mother Ghost (2002)
9.
 Conviction (2002) Martha
10.
 Final Jeopardy (2001) Alexandra "Coop" Cooper
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Stamford, Connecticut
:
After college, moved to NYC to pursue an acting career
:
Began appearing in TV commercials
1979:
Appeared in the CBS soap opera "Love of Life"
1980:
Performed in the Broadway play "A Life"
1981:
Briefly acted on the CBS daytime serial "As the World Turns"
1981:
Feature debut, small role in "The Fan", starring Lauren Bacall
:
Appeared in the Off-Broadway and L.A. stagings of "Bloodmoon" by Nicholas Kazan
1984:
Primetime TV debut in the busted NBC pilot "The Streets"
1987:
TV series debut in NBC's "Sweet Surrender"
1988:
First film with Paul Schrader, "Patty Hearst"
1988:
Breakthrough TV role as Nurse Coleen McMurphy on the ABC drama "China Beach"; won two Emmy Awards for the role
1992:
Returned to feature films after a four-year absence to play prominent supporting roles in "Housesitter" and Schrader's "Light Sleeper"
1993:
Had featured role as James Belushi's wife in the ABC miniseries "Wild Palms"
1993:
Cast as actress Josephine Marcus in the feature Western "Tombstone"
1994:
Played first leading role in a feature, cast as a leather-clad dominatrix in the comedy-drama "Exit to Eden"
1995:
Portrayed birth control advocate Margaret Sanger in the Lifetime TV biopic "Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story"
1995:
Returned to Broadway as co-star of the short-lived "Translations"
1996:
Appeared in "Fly Away Home"
1996:
Voiced the character of Lois Lane on the animated series "Superman" (The WB)
1996:
Starred in the ABC TV-movie "For Hope", playing a schoolteacher stricken with schleroderma
1997:
Starred in the CBS miniseries "True Women"
1998:
Played opposite Martin Donovan in the Showtime original drama "Rescuers: Stories of Courage: Two Couples"
1999:
Had lead in the small screen remake of "Resurrection"; played a woman who develops healing powers after surviving an automobile accident
2000:
Joined cast of the Pulitzer-winning Off-Broadway play "Dinner With Friends"
2001:
Made guest appearance on the CBS drama "Family Law"; received Emmy nomination
2002:
Co-Starred in the CBS drama series "Presidio Med," which also co-starred Blythe Danner
2004:
Cast in Lifetime's "Baby for Sale"
2004:
Appeared on an episode of ABC's freshman drama "Boston Legal" as a friend of Alan Shore (James Spader)
2006:
Guest-starred on an episode of "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Phillips Andover Academy: Andover , Massachusetts - 1974
Wesleyan University: Middletown , Connecticut - 1978

Notes

Delany has been a supporter of the Schleroderma Research Foundation since the early 1990s.

"Ambiguity in the script is one thing. Playing it [on stage] is another. One of the things I love about film is the ambiguity. You can let a million thoughts cross your face, and they'll all be right. Any one of them can have meaning. Onstage, that can't happen. You have to project or it doesn't work." --Dana Delany in New York Newsday, March 16, 1995.

"I'm not a big planner. I don't have goals, and I usually like to be surprised by what happens. My credo is by [the writer] Alice Walker: 'Expect nothing; live frugally on surprise.' It gives you a sense of freedom. I have a real belief that life takes care of itself. And it's usually much better than what I imagine." --Delany quoted in Parade Magagazine, August 14, 1994.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Treat Williams. Actor. Together in the early 1980s.
companion:
Don Henley. Singer. Formerly with the band The Eagles.
companion:
John Sacret Young. Producer. Co-creator of "China Beach"; no longer together.
companion:
Darius Anderson. Political consultant. Born c. 1963; dated from c. 1994 to c. 1995.
companion:
Henry Czerny. Actor. Met during the filming of the TV-movie "Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story" (1995); together from c. 1994; no longer together.
companion:
Christian Navarro. Wine salesman.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jack Delany. Divorced from Delany's mother in 1973; deceased.
mother:
Mary Delany. Divorced from Delany's father in 1973.

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