Blythe Danner

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Blythe Katherine Danner (born February 3, 1943) is a prolific, Emmy-winning American actress who has appeared in numerous stage, screen, and film roles.

Danner was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of a bank executive. She has two brothers, opera singer/actor Harry Danner, and violin maker William Danner. She attended the private George School, in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Bard College, where she was graduated in 1965. She holds three honorary doctorates of fine arts from Bard, Williams College, and Hobart.

Acting career

Danner first appeared on stage with the Theater Company of Boston and the Trinity Square Playhouse of Boston, and first gained national attention at age 25 by winning the Theatre World Award for her performance in the Lincoln Center Rep's production of The Miser. She went on to win a Tony Award in 1970 for her Broadway debut in Butterflies Are Free, playing the role later portrayed by Goldie Hawn in the film adaptation. The same year she appeared in her first film role, in a television production of Dr. Cook's Garden. She also received Tony nominations in 1980 for the original Broadway production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, in 1988 for a revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama A Streetcar Named Desire, and again in 2001 for a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Danner was a close friend of actor Christopher Reeve and appeared with him in several plays.

Due to Danner's WASPy apearance and husky voice, she most frequently is cast as a middle class or upper class wife, or more lately, matriarch; although in 1986 in Brighton Beach Memoirs, she portrayed a middle-aged Jewish woman, and in 1982 in the TV movie Inside the Third Reich, she played the wife of Albert Speer. Her earliest starring film roles were opposite Alan Alda in To Kill a Clown (1972) and in the title role of Lovin' Molly (1974), directed by Sidney Lumet. She has appeared in two films based on the novels of Pat Conroy, The Great Santini (1979) and The Prince of Tides (1991), as well as two television movies adapted from books by Anne Tyler, Saint Maybe and Back When We Were Grownups, both for the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

Danner is more recently known for her role opposite Robert De Niro in the comedy hit Meet the Parents (2000) and its 2004 sequel, Meet the Fockers (with Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman). She currently stars in the cable TV series Huff, which premiered in 2004. Since 2001, she has regularly guest starred on Will & Grace as Will's mother Marilyn. In 2005 was was nominated for three Emmy Awards, for her work on Will & Grace, Huff and Back When We Were Grownups. Emmy host Ellen DeGeneres even poked fun at her during the ceremony, saying that Daner shouldn't be nervous because she's almost certain to win at least one Emmy. And indeed she did: Danner won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (for Huff, and it was her first Emmy win) and thanked her daughter and late husband, among others. She said New Orleans (which had recently been devastated by Hurricane Katrina) was her husband's favorite city, and ended by paying tribute to "our sons and daughters in Iraq", followed by, "let's get the heck outta there!"

For twenty-five years, she has been a regular performer at the Williamstown Summer Theater Festival, where she also serves on the Board of Directors.

Personal life

She is the mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and actor Jake Paltrow, and the widow of producer Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002. Danner first co-starred with her daughter in 1992 in the TV movie Cruel Doubt, then again in the 2003 film Sylvia, playing the mother of the title character, played by her daughter.

She is also the aunt of actresses Hillary Danner and Katherine Moennig, and sister-in-law (through brother Harry) of opera director Dorothy Danner.

Although she has worked frequently on TV and on stage, Danner put her film career on hold for a number of years to raise her children. She often said the proudest night of her life was when Gwyneth won an Academy Award for Best Actress (for Shakespeare in Love), and her mother was the first person she thanked, tearfully, followed by her father and grandfather, who were both ill with cancer and subsequently died.

Environmental activism

In addition to her acting work, Blythe Danner has been involved with environmental issues such as recycling and conservation for over 30 years, having seen firsthand the contrast between her rural youth and her later residence in Los Angeles and New York. She has been active with INFORM, is on the Board of Environmental Activists and the Board of Directors of the Environmental Media Association, and won the 2002 EMA Board of Directors Ongoing Commitment Award. She was instrumental in implementing curbside recycling in Santa Monica and in retaining the New York City recycling program despite threatened budget cuts in 1991, has driven an electric car since the first General Motors EV1 was available, and has installed solar panels at her house. In 2002 Danner, her husband Bruce Paltrow, and her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow worked together on a series of PSAs encouraging use of alternative energy sources and alternative fuel vehicles. Blythe Danner recently announced that she plans to take up skydiving.


Television appearances

With Stephen Collins in a scene from the short-lived CBS television series Tattinger's
  • Dr. Cook's Garden (1970)
  • Adam's Rib (1973)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Last of the Belles (1974)
  • Inside the Third Reich (1982)
  • Tattinger's (1988)
  • Nick and Hillary (1989)
  • Cruel Doubt (1992)
  • Huff (2004)
  • St. Elsewhere
  • Presidio Med
  • Will & Grace (in recurring role as Will's mother)
  • The Seagull
  • Candida
  • A Call to Remember
  • Saint Maybe
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
  • Back When We Were Grownups
  • M*A*S*H

Theater credits

  • The Miser (1968)
  • Butterflies Are Free (1970)
  • Betrayal (1980)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1988)
  • Follies (2001)
  • Much Ado About Nothing

External links

de:Blythe Danner