Family & Companions
A versatile presence in features and television since the late 1980s, actress Glenne Headly moved from broad comedies like "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1989) to action epics like "Dick Tracy" (1990) and character-driven fare like "Mortal Thoughts" (1992) with effortless believability that netted her two Emmy nominations over the course of a multi-decade career on screen. An acclaimed stage actress in Chicago, she won praise and awards for her work on and off-Broadway before segueing into movies and television, with her big break coming in 1989 and 1990 with "Scoundrels," "Dick Tracy" and an Emmy nod for "Lonesome Dove" (CBS, 1989). Headly was best used in sympathetic character parts, where her soft voice and expressive features drew audiences' attention in projects like "Bastard Out of Carolina" (Showtime, 1996) and "On Golden Pond" (CBS, 2001). The birth of her son in 1997 slowed her output somewhat, but she remained a reliable presence in independent films and television, co-starring in films such as "The Namesake" (2006) and "Don Jon" (2013) and series such as the Nathan Lane sitcom "Encore! Encore!" (NBC 1998-99), which preserved her status as one of the most dependable character talents in the business. Glenne Headly died on June 8, 2017. She was 63.
Born Glenne Aimee Headly in New London, CT on March 13, 1955, she spent her first years shuttling between her mother's home in San Francisco and her maternal grandmother in Pennsylvania. Headly eventually settled with her mother in Greenwich Village during her elementary school years, which were filled with introductions to the arts and classes for gifted students. Acting took prominence among her many interests, and she soon graduated with honors from the High School of Performing Arts. Rather than immediately devote herself to a four-year drama program in college, Headly traveled to Switzerland to study at an American College to study literature and art history while gaining valuable life experience. After graduation, she relocated to New York City to study drama at the Herbert Berghof Studios, but a chance trip to Chicago introduced her to the city's thriving theater scene. Headly joined the New Works Ensemble at the St. Nicholas Theatre before joining the famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company for a production of Sam Shepard's "Curse of the Starving Class." Her co-star was actor John Malkovich, whom she would marry in 1982. While in Chicago, she would earn four Joseph Jefferson Awards for performances between 1980 and 1985 while earning her Actors Equity Card. In 1981, she landed her first screen role in Arthur Penn's low-key character drama "Four Friends."
In 1985, she returned with Malkovich to New York, where she appeared in several well-regarded productions, including revivals of "The Philanthropist," which earned her a Theatre World Award, and "Balm in Gilead" with Steppenwolf. Her film and television career soon expanded from bit roles in Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985) to sympathetic character turns in "Seize the Day" (PBS, 1987) opposite Robin Williams and Susan Seidelman's "Making Mr. Right" (1987) with Malkovich. A steady stream of supporting roles preceded her breakout part in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1989), a wry remake of "Bedtime Story" (1964), with Steve Martin and Michael Caine as international con men who meet their match in Headly's seemingly naïve heiress. That same year, she earned an Emmy nomination as Elmira Johnson, the cold-hearted wife of Chris Cooper's ill-fated sheriff, in the miniseries "Lonesome Dove" (CBS, 1989).
Her knack for both sly comedy and convincing drama attracted the attention of director Warren Beatty, who cast her as Tess Trueheart, long-suffering girlfriend to comic strip hero Dick Tracy, in his big-budget 1990 film adaptation. The heights of the film's success were somewhat dampened by her divorce from Malkovich that same year, though she quickly rebounded with a co-starring turn opposite Demi Moore in Alan Rudolph's thriller "Mortal Thoughts," as an abused wife who allegedly conspired to dispatch her abusive husband (Bruce Willis). After playing real-life physician and scientist Mary Guinan, who was an integral part of early research into AIDS, in the HBO drama "And the Band Played On" (1993), Headly met her second husband, electrical grip and editor Byron McCulloch, on the set of the Canadian drama "Ordinary Magic."
Headly would enjoy a long spate of appearances in features like "Mr. Holland's Opus" (1995), as Richard Dreyfuss' faithful wife, and Anjelica Huston's "Bastard Out of Carolina" (Showtime, 1996), which earned her a second Emmy nomination as the kindly aunt of an abused child. During this period, she also appeared in the third season of "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) as pediatrician Dr. Abby Keaton. In 1997, she gave birth to a son, who became the focus of Headly's life; projects were chosen based on whether they were filmed near the family's home, or if they took place during summer vacations or school breaks. Though her appearances were fewer, they remained substantive. She was a thinly veiled version of actress and saloon owner Texas Guinan, who funneled Broadway gossip to columnist Walter Winchell (Stanley Tucci), in the HBO biopic "Winchell" (1998), then returned to the stage after a 10-year absence to co-star with Miranda Richardson in a London production of "Aunt Dan and Lemon" in 1999. Because she was a fan of the TV series, she also made an uncredited cameo as a bartender who cuts off Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) in the successful film adaptation of "The X-Files: Fight the Future" (1998).
On television, she played Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews' daughter in a live adaptation of "On Golden Pond." There were also brief stints as a series regular on "Encore! Encore" (NBC, 1998) as the sister of vain opera star Nathan Lane, and a recurring turn as Tony Shalhoub's environmentally conscious ex-wife on "Monk" (USA, 2002-09). In 2003, she starred with David Hyde Pierce in a Los Angeles production of "The Guys," then traveled that same year to Ireland to appear in the one-woman play, "My Brilliant Divorce." Headly soon balanced regular work as maternal figures in Hollywood product like "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" (2004) and "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" (2008) with edgier work in independent features like "The Amateurs" (2005), Mira Nair's "The Namesake" (2006) and "The Joneses" (2009), which reunited her with her "Mortal Thoughts" co-star, Demi Moore. Headly co-starred in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Don Jon" (2013), indie drama "Strange Weather" (2016) and social media thriller "The Circle" (2017) while maintaining a television presence in a supporting role on miniseries "The Night Of" (HBO 2016) and guest spots on sitcoms "Parks and Recreation" (NBC 2009-2015) and "The League" (FX/FXX 2009-2015). Glenne Headly died on June 8, 2017 at the age of 63. At the time of her death, she was in production on a comedy series, "Future Man" (Hulu 2017- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made feature film debut in Arthur Penn's "Four Friends"
Had first leading role in "Seize the Day," which aired on PBS's "Great Performances" and also released theatrically
Early TV work, lent her voice to the CBS animated children's special, "Santabear's Highflying Adventure"
Played female lead in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" as the target of a wager between con men Steve Martin and Michael Caine
Appeared in the CBS miniseries, "Lonesome Dove"
Joined an ensemble cast in the AIDS themed HBO drama, "And the Band Played On"
Joined the cast of NBC's medical drama "ER" as Dr. Abby Keaton
Cast as Nathan Lane's sister in the NBC sitcom, "Encore! Encore!"
Made London stage debut alongside Miranda Richardson in "Aunt Dan and Lemon"
Played a psychiatrist in Mike Figgis' experimental feature, "Time Code"
Co-starred with Alan Arkin and Lauren Holly in "Counting Sheep"
Cast as Lindsay Lohan's mother in the teen comedy "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen"
Co-starred in the black comedy "Eulogy"
Was cast in the independent comedy "The Amateurs"
Re-teamed with Arkin and Holly for Neal Miller's character-driven film, "Raising Flagg"
Joined Abigail Breslin for the family film, "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl"
Co-starred with David Duchovny and Demi Moore in the independent comedy "The Joneses"
Appeared alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in dark romantic comedy "Don Jon"
Played Alison Crowe on HBO mini-series "The Night Of"
Appeared as Bonnie in sci-fi thriller "The Circle"
Played final role as Margarite in the posthumously released "Villa Capri"