Jane Kaczmarek


Actor

About

Also Known As
Jane Frances Kaczmarek
Birth Place
Greendale, Wisconsin, USA
Born
December 21, 1955

Biography

Jane Kaczmarek had already had a long and fruitful acting career comprised of roles on stage and screen, but it was her role as harried mother Lois on the hit sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06) that finally placed her firmly in the spotlight. The wife of fellow actor Bradley Whitford of "West Wing" fame since 1993, this attractive and versatile brunette routinely turned in not...

Family & Companions

Bradley Whitford
Husband
Actor. Married in 1993.

Biography

Jane Kaczmarek had already had a long and fruitful acting career comprised of roles on stage and screen, but it was her role as harried mother Lois on the hit sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06) that finally placed her firmly in the spotlight. The wife of fellow actor Bradley Whitford of "West Wing" fame since 1993, this attractive and versatile brunette routinely turned in noteworthy performances. Kaczmarek had about her an air of determined self-possession that she molded around her characters, regardless of whether she was playing rich, snooty socialites or underprivileged scrappers. One obvious result of Kaczmarek's extreme dedication was her exceptionally realistic portrayals of older women who were either accomplished or embittered with their lives.

Born in Milwaukee, WI on Dec. 21, 1955, Jane Frances Kaczmarek was the oldest of four children born to Defense Department employee Edward Kaczmarek and his wife, Evelyn, a teacher. Initially intent on following in her mother's footsteps, Kaczmarek enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the mid-1970s to pursue a degree in education. There, she met a fellow student, a fledgling actor named Tony Shalhoub, who convinced her to give acting a try. She did, and the rest was history. After receiving her BFA in Theatre from U. of W.-M., Kaczmarek got serious about her acting and applied to the prestigious Yale School of Drama in New Haven, CT, where she was accepted. There, Kaczmarek reunited with her friend Shalhoub and became part of the school's famed repertory company.

After a year or two of honing her acting chops on stage, Kaczmarek finally made the leap into television in 1982 with a role in "For Lovers Only," a failed pilot about a honeymoon resort that aired as an ABC TV-movie. The following year, however, Kaczmarek had better luck when she landed a recurring role as a nurse on the hit hospital drama, "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88). That led to subsequent guest-star roles in episodes of the fluffy romantic caper series, "Remington Steele" (NBC, 1982-87) and "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" (CBS, 1983-87). That same year, Kaczmarek appeared on the big screen as the long-suffering wife of Fred Ward's haunted Vietnam vet in 1984's "Uncommon Valor." Audiences would also get to see Kaczmarek deliver a well-deserved, reverberant slap to her unfaithful movie husband, Robert De Niro, in director Ulu Grosbard's 1984 romance, "Falling in Love." Though the film was predicted to be a big hit and should have marked Kaczmarek's breakthrough, little came of the box office misfire. A starring role in the cutesy critical failure, "The Heavenly Kid" (1985), did even less to launch her career.

Although she had already made the leap to features, the actress did not shy away from TV work. A wise decision, as it would later turn out being the medium made for her. In 1984 alone, Kaczmarek impressed with a supporting turn in the groundbreaking sexual abuse drama, "Something About Amelia" (ABC) and a co-starring role in a moving syndicated adaptation of O. Henry's "The Last Leaf." The following year, Kaczmarek made her regular series debut on the critically praised, but short-lived drama, "Hometown" (CBS, 1985-86). Although the show failed to grab an audience and was subsequently cancelled, Kaczmarek did not stay down for long. Less than a year later, she reemerged with several new TV movie projects, including "The Right of the People" (ABC, 1987) and "The Christmas Gift" (CBS, 1986). The year 1987 also saw Kaczmarek landing a featured part in the glitzy, marathon-length miniseries, "I'll Take Manhattan" based on the novel by Judth Krantz.

Kaczmarek appeared in two films in 1988; first, the highly derivative body-switcheroo comedy "Vice Versa" starring Judd Reinhold and Fred Savage; second, the Dennis Quaid-Meg Ryan thriller remake, "D.O.A." She then made a triumphant, albeit short, return to the small screen as attorney Linda Bauer on the hard-hitting courtroom drama, "Equal Justice" (ABC, 1990-91). In 1993, the actress added a failed sitcom, "Big Wave Dave's" (CBS, 1993-94), to her list of short-lived series regular gigs. In 1994, between making guest-star appearances on the celebrated legal dramas "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994) and "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), Kaczmarek returned to doing stage work. She wowed theatergoers with her award-winning performances in the riveting Holocaust drama, "Kindertransport" (1994, 1996), in which she portrayed a mother who sends her child to England to be saved from the Nazis. She then followed up in 1995 with the absurdist comedy "Raised in Captivity," playing a self-loathing psychologist.

Most people would remember her, though, as the tough, but friendly traffic cop who flirted with a speeding Kelsey Grammer in a 1996 episode of "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). That same year, she also turned in a strong supporting performance in "The Chamber," the 1996 filmic adaptation of John Grisham's runaway bestseller. Kaczmarek later revisited her wronged-wife roots in the independent drama, "Wildly Available" (1997), before playing the "real world" mom of Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon's characters in the charming fantasy, "Pleasantville" (1998). Finally, Kaczmarek closed out the decade with a recurring role as the confronted and conflicted birth mother of Felicity Porter's best friend, Julie (Amy Jo Johnson) on the angst-ridden late 90's drama, "Felicity" (WB, 1998-2002).

The year 2000 finally saw Kaczmarek striking mid-season gold, starring as the harried, edgy mother of four on the surprise hit sitcom, "Malcolm in the Middle." Touted as "The Simpsons" with real people, the show's unnamed fictional family bucked all of the television norms: a father (Bryan Cranston) who did NOT know best, a mother who was not always sweet (or even fully dressed, for that matter) and a pack of kids who actually got into some serious troubles. Kaczmarek's take as the drill sergeant-like matriarch, Lois, was a particular highlight of the show and no doubt rang true to female viewers. Simultaneously manipulative and demanding, yet smotheringly affectionate and forgiving, Kaczmarek played Lois with nary a hint of the syrupy clich├ęs that often characterized TV moms. The uncompromising character proved a good fit for the actress. Overwhelmingly popular, Kaczmarek received numerous SAG, Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role.

After a long and successful run on Fox, "Malcolm in the Middle" ended production in 2006. After that, Kaczmarek made a number of recurring guest appearances on the Ted Danson comedy series, "Help Me Help You" (CBS, 2006-) .

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

6 Balloons (2018)
The Wolves at the Door (2017)
CHiPs (2017)
Lost on Purpose (2013)
Reviving Ophelia (2010)
The Jenifer Estess Story (2001)
Valerie Estess
Pleasantville (1998)
Wildly Available (1997)
Rita
The Chamber (1996)
Dr Anne Biddows
Without Warning (1994)
All's Fair (1989)
D.O.A. (1988)
Vice Versa (1988)
The Three Kings (1987)
The Christmas Gift (1986)
Susan
Right of the People (1986)
The Heavenly Kid (1985)
Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac (1984)
Donna Olian
Door to Door (1984)
Katharine Holloway
Falling in Love (1984)
Something About Amelia (1984)
Uncommon Valor (1983)
For Lovers Only (1982)
Margie Spoleto

Cast (Special)

The 56th Annual Writers Guild Awards (2004)
Host
The 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2004)
John Ritter Remembered (2003)
Tracey Ullman in the Trailer Tales (2003)
The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2003)
Presenter
Great Women of Television Comedy: A Museum of Television & Radio Special (2003)
Interviewee
TV GUIDE'S GREATEST MOMENTS (2003)
Intimate Portrait: Jane Kaczmarek (2002)
The 3rd Annual Family Television Awards (2001)
Performer
The 15th Annual American Comedy Awards (2001)
Performer
America: A Tribute to Heroes (2001)
The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2001)
Presenter
The 2001 TV Guide Awards (2001)
Performer
Wisconsin: An American Portrait (2000)
Voice
SAG Awards Show (1999)
Performer
Educating Mom (1996)
Nancy Gallagher
Boys Will Be Boys (1994)
Journey Into Genius (1988)
The Last Leaf (1984)
Joanna Brady

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Apollo 11 (1996)
Spooner (1989)
I'll Take Manhattan (1987)

Life Events

1982

First television role was that of Margie Spoletto on "For Lovers Only" (ABC)

1983

Co-starred as the wife of Fred Ward's Vietnam vet in the gripping drama "Uncommon Valor"

1983

Played Nurse Sandy Burns in a three-episode recurring role on the NBC drama "St. Elsewhere"

1984

Featured in the ABC TV-movie "Something About Amelia"

1984

Played the wife of Robert De Niro's unfaithful husband in "Falling in Love"

1985

Appeared in the supernatural comedy "The Heavenly Kid"

1986

Starred in the TV-movies "The Right of the People" (ABC) and "The Christmas Gift" (CBS)

1987

Had a co-starring role in the marathon miniseries "I'll Take Manhattan" (CBS)

1988

Appeared in the role-reversal comedy "Vice Versa"

1988

Featured as the ex-wife of Dennis Quaid's doomed lead character in a remake of "D.O.A."

1990

Played attorney Linda Bauer on the ABC legal drama "Equal Justice"

1993

Was a regular on the short-lived sitcom "Big Wave Dave's" (CBS)

1994

Acted in the Off-Broadway play "Kindertransport" as a Jewish woman who sends her daughter to England for safety during WWII

1995

Appeared on three-episodes of the FOX drama "Party of Five"

1996

Had a recurring role as a love interest to Martin Crane (John Mahoney) on "Frasier" (NBC)

1996

Had a recurring role on "Cybill" (CBS) as Holly

1996

Reprised her "Kindertransport" role for a run at West Hollywood's Tiffany Theater

1997

Co-starred in the independent film "Wildly Available"

1998

Played the real life mother of Tobey Maguire's character in "Pleasantville"

1998

Starred in the South Coast Repertory comedy production of "Dinner With Friends"

1999

Had a recurring role as the birth mother of Julie on the college-set drama "Felicity" (WB)

2000

Starred as Lois, mother of four outrageously mischievous sons, on the FOX sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle"; earned Emmy (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), Golden Globe (2001, 2002, 2003) and SAG (2001, 2003) nominations for Best Actress

2001

Voiced Judge Constance Harm on several episodes of "The Simpsons" (FOX)

2006

Co-starred with Ted Danson on the short-lived series "Help Me Help You" (ABC)

2008

Cast on the TNT series "Raising the Bar" as Judge Trudy Kessler

2012

Voiced Red Jessica on the animated children's series "Jake and the Never Land Pirates"

2012

Returned to the stage in the Geffen Playhouse production of David Lindsay-Abaire's "Good People"

2014

Had the recurring role of Gwen Crawford on "Playing House"

2018

Appeared in the heroin drama "6 Balloons"

Family

Edward Kaczmarek
Father
Worked for the Defense Department.
Evelyn Kaczmarek
Mother
Teacher.
Jim Kaczmarek
Brother
Teacher.
Bill Kaczmarek
Brother
Entrepreneur.
Mary Kaczmarek
Sister
Younger; worked in real estate and Internet firms.
Frances Whitford
Daughter
Born c. January 1998.
George Whitford
Son
Born on December 23, 1999.
Mary Louisa Whitford
Daughter
Born November 25, 2002.

Companions

Bradley Whitford
Husband
Actor. Married in 1993.

Bibliography