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Ed Harris

Nazanin Boniadi

Perla Haney-Jardine

Kristen Bell

Jennifer Connelly

Anna Torv

Jason Lee

Ellen Pompeo

Sam Waterston

Julianna Margulies

Amy Madigan Biography

Home > Actresses > M > Madigan, Amy > Biography

Birth Name: Amy Madigan
Born: 09/11/1950
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Born Sept. 11, 1950 in Chicago, IL, Amy Marie Madigan was the daughter of Dolores, a union worker, and John Madigan, a media personality and lawyer. A tomboy who loved to perform since childhood, Madigan displayed prodigious talent as a pianist and studied the instrument at The Music Conservatory of Chicago College of Performing Arts. She graduated from Marquette University with a degree in philosophy and moved to Los Angeles. Pursuing her musical dreams, she spent more than 10 years touring with a variety of rock bands, playing piano, percussion and singing in support of Steve Goodman. She also recorded with the Eli Radish Band and comprised one-third of the band Jelly, posing for Playboy smeared in the substance to promote the group. When she decided to become an actress, Madigan studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.

She made her professional acting debut in an episode of "Hart to Hart" (ABC, 1979-1984) and notched several additional TV credits before jumping to the big screen to star as a teenage inmate who becomes pregnant with the "Love Child" (1982) of a kindly guard (Beau Bridges), earning a Golden Globe nomination. Her raw-boned, aggressive persona, so unlike traditional Hollywood glamourpusses, helped Madigan stand out. She survived nuclear war in the zeitgeist-capturing telefilm "The Day After" (ABC, 1983), impressed as an ass-kicking ex-soldier in "Streets of Fire" (1984), and essayed a Great Depression-era schoolteacher having an affair with Ed Harris in the Oscar-winning feature film "Places in the Heart" (1984). The two married in 1983 and starred together in the Vietnam vet drama "Alamo Bay" (1985). That same year, Madigan won a CableACE Award as a lonely newlywed in Robert Altman's "The Laundromat" (HBO, 1985).

Madigan ascended higher with an amazing turn as Gene Hackman's furious daughter in "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985), for which she earned Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. She received an Independent Spirit Award nomination as a kidnapper in the comedy "The Prince of Pennsylvania" (1988), but the following year proved to be her most critically rewarding. In 1989, Madigan played John Candy's feisty girlfriend in the comedy hit "Uncle Buck," a crusading lawyer fighting for her client's (Holly Hunter) right to an abortion in NBC's "Roe vs. Wade" and Kevin Costner's supportive wife in the baseball smash "Field of Dreams." She won a Golden Globe and earned an Emmy nomination for "Roe" and reached the pinnacle of her celebrity that year, especially in the beloved "Field of Dreams" which became an instant modern classic.

Wife duty in the Stephen King horror adaptation "The Dark Half" (1993) was less rewarding, but she nabbed another CableACE Award for the wrenching drama "And Then There Was One" (Lifetime, 1994), based on the real-life story of a couple with a newborn baby who discover they are all three HIV-positive. As Roxy Ventola, the wife and mother-turned-fiery AIDS activist, Madigan amazed, and in her acceptance speech, honored the bravery of her real-life counterpart. Moving back to fantasy, Madigan and Ed Harris executive produced and starred in the Zane Grey adaptation "Riders of the Purple Sage" (TNT, 1996), a well-reviewed Western that received plaudits for hewing closer to the source material than other versions. That same year, Madigan chose her most unusual project to date, a role as Tilda Swinton's bohemian, kleptomaniacal sister in the homoerotic arthouse oddity "Female Perversions" (1996).

Back on the small screen, she won praise for supporting roles in the Vietnam War-set "A Bright Shining Lie" (HBO, 1998) and "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years" (CBS, 1999) before returning to the big screen as the heiress art collector Peggy Guggenheim in the Oscar-winning "Pollock" (2000), directed by and starring Harris. The couple made headlines when they, along with several other performers, refused to applaud when Elia Kazan accepted his honorary Oscar at the 1999 ceremony. (Decades earlier, Kazan's testimony regarding possible communists working in Hollywood in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities had contributed to the industry-wide blacklisting that ruined many careers and lives). After appearing in the Matthew Shepard-inspired "The Laramie Project" (2002) for HBO, Madigan signed on as Iris Crowe in the network's new series "Carnivàle" (2003-05). A mysterious and mystical Dust Bowl-era saga set in a traveling carnival, the complex show cast Madigan as the scheming, murderous older sister of Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown).

In the next few years, she reunited with Ed Harris on the big screen twice: as a high-powered literary agent in the little-seen Zooey Deschanel drama "Winter Passing" (2005) and as the sister of a neglectful mother (Amy Ryan), who hires a private investigator (Casey Affleck) to rescue her kidnapped niece in Ben Affleck's Oscar-nominated directorial debut, "Gone Baby Gone" (2007). Madigan began to appear more frequently on television, guest-starring on "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 2005- ), "Saving Grace" (TNT, 2007-2010) with old pal Holly Hunter, "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ) as Dr. Wyatt, the therapist to perennially "dark and twisty" Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Most vividly, the actress recurred as the parallel-universe incarnation of Marilyn Dunham, the mother of genetically-altered superhuman Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) on the sci-fi drama "Fringe" (FOX, 2008-2013).

By Jonathan Riggs