Family & Companions
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" (1997-2004).
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, 2004-11) and "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2004-10) 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.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made screen debut in small role in "Anne of a Thousand Days," starring her father Richard Burton
Made New York stage debut in "Present Laughter"
Played title role in off-Broadway production of "Alice in Wonderland"; recreated role for PBS version, which also featured her father
Made stage musical debut in "Doonesbury"
Co-starred with her father in the CBS miniseries "Ellis Island"
Had feature role of Margo in "Big Trouble in Little China"
Played the mother on NBC series "Home Fires"
Landed recurring role on NBC's "Law & Order"
Appeared as Henry Winkler's wife on short-lived Fox sitcom "Monty"
Starred in "Notes for My Daughter," an "ABC Afterschool Special"; won Daytime Emmy for performance
Had featured role in L.A. production of Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia"
Returned to Broadway, succeeding Kate Nelligan in "An American Daughter"
Played recurring role of district attorney Susan Alexander on legal drama "The Practice" (ABC)
Had supporting role in Woody Allen's "Celebrity"
Assumed leading role in the Broadway production of "The Beauty Queen of Lenane"
Reprised role in Irish staging of "The Beauty Queen of Lenane" in Waterford
Received rave reviews for her turn as "Hedda Gabler" on Broadway
Co-starred as Mrs. Kendal in the Brodway revival of "The Elephant Man," starring Billy Crudup
Cast opposite Diane Lane in Adrian Lyne's "Unfaithful"
Appeared with Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling in Marc Forster's "Stay"
Starred in the revival of W. Somerset Maugham's "The Constant Wife"; earned a Tony nomination for her performance
Cast in HBO miniseries "Empire Falls," based on Richard Russo's novel
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
Cast alongside Robert De Niro and Sean Penn in "What Just Happened"
Portrayed Aron Ralston's mother in Danny Boyle's feature adaptation of "127 Hours"
Played the Vice President on ABC's "Scandal"
Cast opposite writer and director Josh Radnor in romantic comedy "Liberal Arts"
Nabbed a role in the horror film "Martyrs"
Appeared in the thriller "Amok"
Joined the cast of "Extant"
Returned for screen version of Noël Coward comedy "Present Laughter"
Had a recurring guest role on "This Is Us"