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Mare Winningham (born May 16, 1959), born Mary Megan Winningham, is an American actress and singer-songwriter. She has been nominated once for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Drama Desk, 7 times for Emmy Awards (winning two), and has also won an Independent Spirit Award and two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

She is known for her role as Georgia Flood in the film Georgia, which earned her an Academy Award nomination. She has also starred in films such as St. Elmo's Fire, Miracle Mile, Turner & Hooch, The War, George Wallace, Dandelion, Brothers and Swing Vote.

Early lifeEdit

Winningham was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Northridge, California.Template:Fact She has three brothers and one sister. Her father was the chairman of the Department of Physical Education at California State University (CSUN) and her mother was an English teacher and college counselor at Monroe High School.Template:Fact She credits her first interest in acting to seeing an interview with Kym Karath (who played "Gretl" in The Sound of Music) on Art Linkletter's television show House Party when she was five or six years old.Template:Fact

Winningham attended local primary schools, where her favorite activities included drama and playing the guitar and drums.Template:Fact She took the extended drama option in junior high school and continued to study over her summer vacations at CSUN's Teenage Drama Workshop.Template:Fact It was at this time that she adopted the nickname "Mare".Template:Fact Her mother arranged for her to go to Chatsworth High School.Template:Fact In Grade 12, Winningham starred in a production of The Sound of Music, playing the part of Maria, opposite classmate Kevin Spacey as Captain Von Trapp.Template:Fact



Winningham began her career as a singer-songwriter. In 1976, she got her break singing The Beatles song "Here, There and Everywhere" on The Gong Show.Template:Fact Though Winningham received no record contracts as result of the appearance, she was signed to an acting contract by Hollywood agent Meyer Mishkin, and received her Screen Actor's Guild card for doing three lines in an episode of James at 15.Template:Fact That year she was offered a role on Young Pioneers and Young Pioneers Christmas, pilots for the short-lived 1978 drama The Young Pioneers. Though the series ended with just three episodes being broadcast, a number of television projects followed, including parts on Police Woman in 1978 and Starsky and Hutch in 1979. Later that same year, she played the role of teenage outcast Jenny Flowers in the made-for-TV movie of the week called, The Death of Ocean View Park.

In 1980, Winningham starred in Off the Minnesota Strip playing a young prostitute. She then won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for her role in the critically acclaimed Amber Waves, a made-for-TV movie about a rough farmer (Dennis Weaver) who finds he is dying of cancer. In that year, she also broke into film in One Trick Pony, starring Paul Simon. In 1983, Winningham was nominated for a Canadian Genie Award for her work in the futuristic 1981 drama Threshold,Template:Fact and appeared in the 1983 epic miniseries The Thorn Birds, in which she played Justine O'Neill. In 1984, she starred as Helen Keller in Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues.

Winningham achieved greater fame in St. Elmo's Fire (1985) as one of the original "brat pack" alumni. Despite the film's success, she failed to cash in on her teen idol status, and returned to television in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Love Is Never Silent, for which she received an Emmy nomination. Another well-known and well-received performance was as a homeless young mother in the television movie God Bless the Child. Winningham finished the '80s with two Hollywood films: the nuclear disaster drama, Miracle Mile (1988), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination in 1989, and the Tom Hanks vehicle Turner & Hooch in 1989. In 1988, Winningham also starred in the Los Angeles stage production of Hurlyburly with Sean Penn and Danny Aiello.Template:Fact

In the early 1990s, she returned to film for 1994's all-star Wyatt Earp and the family drama The War, both starring Kevin Costner. 1995 brought Georgia, a thoughtful character study of two sisters (Winningham and Jennifer Jason Leigh), which earned Winningham Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations. Two years later, she starred opposite Gary Sinise in George Wallace, for which she garnered her first Golden Globe Award nomination[1] and won an Emmy Award.

She made acclaimed appearances on the series ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as appearances in the 2001 television project Sally Hemmings opposite Sam Neill and the short-lived David E. Kelley series The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire. Also in 2001, she appeared in the made for TV movie Snap Decision with Felicity Huffman. She also appeared in the independent film Dandelion, which was a staple of film festivals worldwide between 2003 and 2004 and had a limited American release in October 2005.Template:Fact

In 2006, she landed the role of Susan Grey on the ABC drama Grey's Anatomy where she played the stepmother of one of the main characters, Dr. Meredith Grey. Her character was killed off in May 2007.Template:Fact In 2006, Winningham voiced the audio version of Stephen King's Lisey's Story. In 2007, she voiced Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions.Template:Fact In 2010, Winningham starred in an episode of Cold Case as main character Lilly Rush's stepmother, Celeste Cooper.[2] In 2011 she appeared in the fourth episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day as character Ellis Hartley Monroe.[3]


Winningham has recorded three albums: What Might Be (1992) on the Bay Cities label,Template:Fact Lonesomers (1998) produced by Carla Olson on the Razor and Tie label,Template:Fact and Refuge Rock Sublime (2007) on the Craig & Co. label.Template:Fact Lonesomers is a folksy album dealing with relationship issues. The country/bluegrass/Jewish/folk songs on Refuge Rock Sublime deal mostly with her recent conversion to Judaism, and include the tracks, "What Would David Do," "A Convert Jig" and the Israeli national anthem "Hatikva". She also sings on the soundtrack of Georgia.

Personal lifeEdit

Though raised a Roman Catholic, in November 2001, on a friend's recommendation, she took a class given by Rabbi Neal Weinberg at the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University) in Los Angeles, California. On March 3, 2003, she converted to Judaism.[4] She belongs to Conservative synagogues in the Greater Los Angeles area.Template:Fact

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Result Award Category Film or series
1980 Won Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie Amber Waves
1983 Nominated Genie Awards Best Performance by a Foreign Actress Threshold
1986 Nominated Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Love Is Never Silent
1990 Nominated Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female Miracle Mile
1990 Won Camie Character and Morality in Entertainment Awards The Magic of Ordinary Days
1994 Nominated CableACE Awards Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Better Off Dead
1996 Nominated Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie The Boys Next Door
1996 Won Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female Georgia
1996 Nominated Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Georgia
1996 Nominated Academy Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Georgia
1998 Nominated Golden Globes Best Supporting Actress George Wallace
1998 Nominated Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie George Wallace
1998 Won Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie George Wallace
1998 Nominated Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress George Wallace
2004 Nominated Emmy Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
2004 Nominated Emmy Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special The Maldonado Miracle
2008 Nominated Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical 10 Million Miles
2008 Nominated Drama League Award Distinguished Performance 10 Million Miles
2008 Won Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Featured Actress 10 Million Miles
2011 Nominated Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie Mildred Pierce


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Young Pioneers Nettie Peters TV movies
Young Pioneers' Christmas
1977 James at 15 Wanda Episode: "The Girl with the Bad Rep"
1978 Special Olympics Janice Gallitzin TV movie
Police Woman Linda Episode: "Battered Teachers"
The Young Pioneers Nettie Peters Episode: "Sky in the Window"
1979 Starsky and Hutch Joey Carston Episode: "Ninety Pounds of Trouble"
Family Merilee Kalisher Episode: "The Competition"
Steeletown Aggie Modgelewsky TV movies
The Death of Ocean View Park Jenny Flowers
1980 Amber Waves Marlene Burkhardt
Off the Minnesota Strip Micki Johansen
The Women's Room Chris
One Trick Pony Modeena Dandridge
1981 Threshold Carol Severance
Freedom Libby Bellow TV movies
A Few Days in Weasel Creek Locksley Claitor
1982 Missing Children: A Mother's Story
1983 The Thorn Birds Justine O'Neill
1984 Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues Helen Keller TV movies
Single Bars, Single Women Bootsie
1985 ABC Afterschool Specials Beth Episode: "One Too Many"
St. Elmo's Fire Wendy Beamish
Hallmark Hall of Fame Margaret Ryder Episode: "Love Is Never Silent"
1986 The Twilight Zone Norma Lewis Episode: "Button, Button"
A Winner Never Quits Annie TV movies
Who Is Julia? Mary Frances Bodine
Nobody's Fool Pat
1987 Shy People Candy
Made in Heaven Brenda Carlucci
Eye on the Sparrow Ethel Lee TV movies
1988 God Bless the Child Theresa Johnson
Miracle Mile Julie Peters
1989 Turner & Hooch Dr. Emily Carson
1990 Love and Lies Kim Paris TV movies
Crossing to Freedom Nicole Rougeron
1991 Fatal Exposure Jamie Hurd
She Stood Alone Prudence Crandall
Hard Promises Dawn
1992 Those Secrets Faye TV movies
Intruders Mary Wilkes
1993 Sexual Healing Marta
Better Off Dead Kit Killner TV movies
1994 Betrayed by Love Dana
Teresa's Tattoo Singer
Wyatt Earp Mattie Blaylock
The War Lois Simmons
1995 Georgia Georgia Flood
Letter to My Killer Judy Parma TV movies
1996 The Boys Next Door Sheila
The Deliverance of Elaine Elaine Hodges
1997 Bad Day on the Block Catherine Braverton
George Wallace Lurleen Wallace TV movie
Mad About You Sarah McCain Episode: "The New Friend"
1998 Episode: "The Baby Video"
Everything That Rises Kyle Clay TV movies
Little Girl Fly Away Catherine Begley
ER Dr. Amanda Lee Episode: "Hazed and Confused"
Episode: "Good Luck, Ruth Johnson"
1999 Episode: "The Miracle Worker"
Episode: "Nobody Doesn't Like Amanda Lee"
Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke Chandi Heffner TV movies
2000 Sally Hemings: An American Scandal Martha Jefferson Randolph
Sharing the Secret Dr. Nina Moss
2001 Snap Decision Jennifer Bradley
Night Visions Kate Morris Episode: "Still Life"
2002 Six Feet Under Eileen Piper Episode: "The Plan"
Tru Confessions Ginny TV movie
Touched by an Angel Maggie Episode: "The Bells of St. Peters"
2003 The Maldonado Miracle Maisie TV movie
The Adventures of Ociee Nash Aunt Mamie Nash
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sandra Blaine Episode: "Manic"
The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire Dottie Shaw 7 episodes
2004 Dandelion Layla Mullich
Clubhouse Lynne Young 2004-2005 (11 episodes)
2005 The Magic of Ordinary Days Martha TV movie
2007 War Eagle, Arkansas Belle
Boston Legal Patrice Kelly Episode: "Hope and Glory"
Episode: "The Object of My Affection"
Grey's Anatomy Susan Grey 6 episodes
Swing Vote Larissa Johnson
2009 CSI: NY Katherine Donovan Episode: "Greater Good"
Brothers Elsie Cahill
2010 Cold Case Celeste Cooper Episode: "The Good Soldier"
24 Elaine Al-Zacar 2 episodes
2011 Mildred Pierce Ida Corwin HBO miniseries
Torchwood Ellis Hartley Monroe 3 episodes
2012 Mirror Mirror Baker Margaret Filming
Hatfields & McCoys Sally McCoy History Channel miniseries


  • 1992: What Might Be
  • 1998: Lonesomers
  • 2007: Refuge Rock Sublime


External linksEdit

Template:EmmyAward MiniseriesSupportingActress 1976-2000 Template:IndependentSpiritBestSupportingFemale 1987-1999

Template:Persondatade:Mare Winningham es:Mare Winningham fr:Mare Winningham it:Mare Winningham he:מייר וינינגהם nl:Mare Winningham ja:メア・ウィニンガム no:Mare Winningham pl:Mare Winningham pt:Mare Winningham ru:Уиннингэм, Мэр fi:Mare Winningham sv:Mare Winningham tl:Mare Winningham

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