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George Eads

Kathleen Quinlan Biography


Home > Actresses > Q > Quinlan, Kathleen > Biography


Birth Name: Kathleen Quinlan
Born: 11/19/1954
Birth Place: Pasadena, California, USA


Born Kathleen Denise Quinlan on Nov. 19, 1954 in Pasadena, CA to parents, Robert, a local sportscaster, and Josephine. Quinlan was raised in the town of Mill Valley. Although she suffered from allergy-induced asthma as a child, Quinlan overcame the condition by maintaining an active lifestyle as a gymnast, scuba diver and surfer while attending Tamalpais High School. While still a teen, she made her first screen appearance, albeit uncredited, as Trish Van Devere's double in a diving scene from the romantic drama "One is a Lonely Number" (1972). Quinlan's big break, however, came the following year, after director George Lucas visited her high school while looking to cast his latest film, the nostalgic coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of early '60s car culture and classic rock-n-roll, "American Graffiti" (1973). With her first speaking role under her belt, Quinlan began taking on more substantial parts, including a turn in the apocalyptic sci-fi thriller "Where Have All the People Gone?" (NBC, 1974), which marked her television debut. Other portrayals included that of a teenager with miraculous abilities imprisoned by her father in "The Abduction of Saint Anne" (ABC, 1975), and a supporting role as a teenager with a crush on perpetual beach bum Sam Elliott in "Lifeguard" (1976).

With her star on the rise, Quinlan landed her first leading role as a schizophrenic teenager in the absorbing, often disturbing drama "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (1977), showing remarkable restraint in a portrayal that could have easily lapsed into histrionics, but instead earned Quinlan a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. That same year, she joined the star-studded cast of the air-disaster sequel "Airport '77" (1977), in which a luxury jetliner crash lands in the dreaded Bermuda Triangle. In 1979, Quinlan made her New York stage debut in Thomas Babe's "Taken in Marriage" at the Public Theater for a production that earned the young actress a Theatre World Award. Although she continued to work steadily, Quinlan's talent often outshone the quality of the material she appeared in, with such projects as the maudlin romantic melodrama "The Promise" (1979), the "Private Benjamin" rip-off "She's in the Army Now" (ABC, 1981), and the sub-par Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor vehicle "Hanky Panky" (1982). More ambitious was her leading role in "Independence Day" (1983), as a young artist trying to escape the cultural confines of her small town. Also that year, Quinlan delivered a compelling performance as an outsider drawn into a child's nightmarish cartoon world for the Joe Dante-directed segment of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" (1983).

Quinlan played a modern-day Jane to an urban-dwelling Tarzan in "Wild Thing" (1987), an oddball adventure tale penned by future filmmaker John Sayles, and turned in a cameo in the Blake Edwards' misfire "Sunset" (1988). The following year, she starred in "Trapped" (USA, 1989), a "Die Hard"-inspired thriller, on the set of which she met future husband, actor Bruce Abbott. Quinlan turned in a brief, albeit memorable performance as the man-eating photographer Patricia Kennealy, seducing rock god Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer) in Oliver Stone's ambitious biopic "The Doors" (1991). Other early 1990s work included roles as an adoptive mother in "Stolen Babies" (Lifetime, 1993), and as the jealous moll of an indicted mob boss in "Trial by Jury" (1994). Far more prestigious was Quinlan's contribution as a member of a strong ensemble cast in director Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" (1995). Her portrayal of Marilyn Lovell, the concerned but supportive wife of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), earned Quinlan Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress. The accolades led to a deluge of work for Quinlan, exemplified by her quadruple appearances in the taught roadside thriller "Breakdown" (1997), the kid-friendly eco-adventure "Zeus and Roxanne" (1997), the visually arresting sci-fi horror of "Even Horizon" (1997), and the British indie drama "Lawn Dogs" (1997).

Quinlan decreased her output by half the following year with a turn as Billy Crystal's wife in the lackluster comedy "My Giant" (1998), and played a part in the courtroom drama "A Civil Action" (1998), starring John Travolta. She later signed as a regular on the domestic legal drama "Family Law" (CBS, 1999-2002) in the role of Lynn Holt, an attorney who starts her own firm after her lawyer husband leaves her and takes all of their clients with him. After a five-year absence from the big screen, Quinlan returned as Shia LaBeouf's mother in the second "Project Green Light" feature "The Battle of Shaker Heights" (2003), an uneven coming-of-age comedy drama. Several made-for-TV projects occupied her time until she took part in the grisly remake of the Wes Craven cult favorite "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006), this time directed by French horror wunderkind Alexandre Aja. Quinn picked up a recurring role as ruthless power player Christina Scofield Rose in the final season of the critically lauded series "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09), followed by a frightening turn as the insane matron of a safe house for abused woman in "Harm's Way" (2010). On cable she joined the ensemble cast of "Cinema Verite" (HBO, 2011), a docudrama about one of the first experiments with reality television, starring Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini among others.