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Blair Brown Biography


Home > Actresses > B > Brown, Blair > Biography


Birth Name: Blair Brown
Born: 04/23/1947
Birth Place: United States


Born April 23, 1947 in Washington, DC, Bonnie Blair Brown pursued theater across the United States border, where she trained for three years at the National Theatre School of Canada. A role in the revue "Love and Maple Syrup" in Ottawa led to several years of employment with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Company and other regional theaters, honing her craft in such stage productions as "The Merchant of Venice," "A Doll's House" and "The Crucible." She landed a small role in the Oscar-winning drama "The Paper Chase" (1973) and recreated her stage role of Lady Teazle in "The School for Scandal" for "Theater in America" (PBS, 1975) before finding work with the New York Shakespeare Festival in "The Comedy of Errors" in Central Park and in "The Threepenny Opera" on Broadway.

She was cast in several acclaimed TV productions, ranging from the NBC miniseries "Captains and the Kings" (1976), where she met her longtime boyfriend, actor Richard Jordan, to the award-winning "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years" (ABC, 1977). That same year, she landed her first film lead in "The Choirboys" (1977) but truly came into her own as a leading lady as the ferociously devoted wife to William Hurt in the trippy "Altered States" (1980). One of her best screen roles was as a take-charge naturalist romanced by a newspaper reporter (John Belushi) in the romantic comedy "Continental Divide" (1981), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. Made-for-TV movies offered the actress an excellent showcase, winning her plaudits for her work as the vulnerable, overwhelmed mother of a murderous child in the remake of "The Bad Seed" (ABC, 1985) and nominations for a Golden Globe and BAFTA for her turn as Jackie Kennedy in the 1983 NBC miniseries "Kennedy."

Brown's biggest claim to fame came as the star of the groundbreaking dramedy "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC, 1987-88; Lifetime, 1989-1991), which followed the titular New Yorker, a warm-hearted, independent but aimless divorceé. For her charming portrayal of the quirky Dodd, Brown earned five Emmy nominations as well as the opportunity to direct two episodes of the series. She was romantically linked to David Hare, who wrote the leading role of Lillian Hempel in "Strapless" (1989) for her. He also penned the stage play "The Secret Rapture" for her as well. The actress played the first female general who runs for the U.S. presidency in "Majority Rule"" (Lifetime, 1992) and returned to Broadway to star in Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" and to play the supporting role of Frau Schneider in the revival of "Cabaret."

Back on television, she appeared in "A Season in Purgatory" (CBS, 1996) and "The Ultimate Lie" (NBC, 1996) before returning to series TV as a no-nonsense U.S. attorney on the short-lived "Feds" (CBS, 1997). On the big screen, Brown played important supporting roles in the Johnny Depp/Charlize Theron thriller "The Astronaut's Wife" (1999) and in the Clint Eastwood/Tommy Lee Jones action adventure "Space Cowboys" (2000). She won a Tony for her role in the challenging, physics-themed Broadway drama "Copenhagen," but spent much of the subsequent decade collecting small credits in everything from Lars von Trier's "Dogville" (2003) and Kevin Bacon's "Loverboy" (2005) to "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ). Brown also embarked on a lucrative side career in narration, serving as the voice of many specials, including several "American Experience" (PBS, 1988- ) installments. Critics and longtime fans alike were thrilled to see her accept the juicy role of Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic on the genre-bending, sci-fi thriller "Fringe" (Fox, 2008- ). As a mysterious, cutthroat businesswoman who lost an arm attempting to prevent Walter (John Noble) from crossing over into a parallel universe, Brown delivered a layered, magnetic performance on the cult series.