Family & Companions
Beginning in the mid-1970s, Kate Mulgrew established herself as a remarkably commanding leading lady, mostly in TV, who brought authority to her portrayals of no-nonsense professional women. As Entertainment Weekly accurately observed: "With her clear Irish features and throaty, resonant voice, she bears an eerie resemblance to a young Katharine Hepburn." Mulgrew made her TV debut with a two-year stint (1975-77) as Mary Ryan, the strong-willed daughter on the ABC daytime soap "Ryan's Hope". At age 23, she was approached by NBC programming head Fred Silverman with a role intended to keep a valuable property alive--sort of. Mulgrew became a primetime star as the wife to whom Peter Falk's master detective, LAPD Lt. Columbo had always referred but whom audiences had never seen.
As Kate Columbo, Mulgrew was the mother of a seven year-old daughter who divided her time between homemaking, reporting for a suburban weekly paper and solving murders, while waiting for her husband to come home. "Mrs. Columbo" (NBC, 1979) was fairly well-received critically but failed to catch on with audiences despite several changes in title ("Kate Columbo", "Kate the Detective", "Kate Loves A Mystery" in syndication) and concept. (A divorcee in later episodes, she went under her maiden name Callahan.) Mulgrew was more widely seen as Sam Malone's (Ted Danson) love interest, a political aspirant who becomes a Boston councilwoman, in a memorable three-part storyline on "Cheers" in 1986. She returned to series TV starring in the feminist medical drama "HeartBeat" (ABC, 1988-89) as a dedicated gynecologist. In a supporting role, Mulgrew again wielded authority playing the unscrupulous mayor in James Garner's sitcom vehicle "Man of the People" (NBC, 1991). She remained a familiar TV face with numerous assignments in TV-movies, miniseries and guest shots, notably playing an alcoholic anchor in a memorable episode of "Murphy Brown".
Mulgrew has not prospered in features since her inauspicious debut, playing an imperiled newscaster, in the low-budget thriller "A Stranger Is Watching" (1981). She fared only marginally better as an Army major who functions as the romantic interest of Fred Ward in "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" (1985). Mulgrew's most memorable film role may be in Danny DeVito's "Throw Momma From the Train" (1987) as the shrewish wife of Billy Crystal. She starred in the 1992 comedy "Round Numbers", playing a woman who joins a health spa so as to keep her straying husband. However, the film went straight to video. Fortunately, Mulgrew had much better experiences in the theater. Her substantial stage work includes stints with the American Shakespeare Festival, the O'Neill Festival and at the Mark Taper Forum in L.A.
Mulgrew instantly earned a place in pop culture history when she signed on to command a Federation starship that is unexpectedly propelled to an uncharted realm of space. As Captain Kathryn Janeway on "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001), Mulgrew became the first woman to head a series in the astronomically lucrative "Trek" franchise. Though some of the early scripts were shaky, she demonstrated that she had the right stuff--a charismatic combination of toughness, tenderness and brains. Initially skeptical fans quickly embraced her. She reprised the role of Janeway in the feature "Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002), but that film's poor reviews and weak box office ended the film franchise until its 2009 reboot.
Mulgrew continued her science-fiction work in the cult series "Warehouse 13" (SyFy 2009-14), her work on Paul Scheer's surreal action parody "NTSF:SD:SUV::" (Adult Swim 2011-13) appealed to a similar demographic. She reached a new audience as prison chef Galina "Red" Reznikov on the critically-acclaimed "Orange is the New Black" (Netflix 2013- ), a role that garnered her a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Emmy nomination in 2014.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Delivered a school recitation of Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach" (date approximate)
Began working at 13-years-old (date approximate)
On her own by 16 (date approximate)
Played the role of Emily in a production of "Our Town" at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut
TV-movie debut, "Alien Lover"
TV series debut, played Mary Ryan on the ABC daytime serial, "Ryan's Hope"
TV miniseries debut, "The Word"
Debut as a primetime series star, "Mrs. Columbo/Kate the Detective/Kate Loves A Mystery"
Feature acting debut, "A Stranger Is Watching"
Taught audition technique at the Cornish Institute in Seattle, Washington
Briefly reprised the role of Mary Ryan on "Ryan's Hope"
Portrayed Councilwoman Janet Eldridge, a love interest of Sam Malone, on a three-part storyline on "Cheers"
Most high-profile feature supporting role, played the shrewish wife of Billy Crystal in Danny De Vito's "Throw Momma From the Train"
Starred as gynecologist Dr. Joanne Springsteen (subsequently Halloran) on the ABC medical drama, "HeartBeat"
Played Mayor Lisbeth Chardin on the short-lived NBC political sitcom, "Man of the People", starring James Garner
Acclaimed for a guest shot as an alcoholic anchor on "Murphy Brown"
Replaced Genevieve Bujold as the star early in the production of the pilot for "Star Trek: Voyager", the flagship series for the fledgling UPN network
Broadway debut, "Black Comedy"
Starred as Captain Kathryn Janeway on "Star Trek: Voyager"
Reportedly told a reporter that she wanted to leave "Voyager" at the end of the 1998-1999 season
Cast as actress Katharine Hepburn in the stage play "Tea at Five", produced at the Hartford Stage
Reprised role of Capt. Janeway in the feature "Star Trek: Nemesis"
Performed in "The Exonerated" at the Riverside Studios in London
Performed the lead role in the off Broadway production, "Our Leading Lady"
Appeared in the NBC series "The Black Donnellys" as Helen Donnelly