Karen of The Jeff Foxworthy Show
The eldest of the Cusack acting dynasty, Ann Cusack landed her first feature-film role at the age of 30 in Penny Marshall's summer 1992 comedy “A League of Their Own,” with Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Lori Petty. She has since added to her resume with roles in the films "Renaissance Man" (1994), "Tank Girl" (1995), "The Birdcage" (1996), "Multiplicity" (1996), "Grosse Pointe Blank" (1997), "Stigmata" (1999), "What Planet Are You From?" (2000), "America's Sweethearts" (2001), "Accepted" (2006), and "Cake" (2007). She will next be seen in the upcoming films "Ace Ventura Jr." and "The Neighbor," alongside Matthew Modine.
On television, the 5' 8½" actress played Karen Foxworthy (1996-1997) in the NBC sitcom "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" and starred as the title role in the short-lived comedy "Maggie" (1998). She has guest starred in such TV shows as “Family Law,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Frasier,” “Ally McBeal,” and “The Jackie Thomas Show.” She also appeared in a number of made-for-television movies, including “My Sister's Keeper,” “Victim of Love,” and “Overexposed,” as well as in the mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon,” portraying Jan Armstrong, Astronaut Neil Armstrong's wife.
The Cusack Clan
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of the late producer-writer-actor Dick Cusack and his wife Nancy Cusack, Ann Cusack was born on May 22, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in the affluent Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. She is the eldest sister of acting siblings John (born on June 28, 1966), Joan (born on October 11, 1962), Bill (born in 1964) and Susie Cusack (born in 1971).
At age 9, she trained at the Piven Theatre & Workshop in Evanston, Illinois, where she studied basic improvisation with Joyce and Byrne Piven. She later received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University's Tisch School for the Arts, where she studied drama under the supervision of legendary playwright and theatrical and film director David Mamet.
Besides acting, Ann, who studied voice at Berklee College of Music, was the founding member of the Chicago acappella group Acme Vocals, toured with group, played cabarets and comedy clubs throughout the USA. She now sings with her band, Blues Adjacent.
Having worked in arts administration since graduating from college, Ann co-founded and served as executive director of the nonprofit Arts Expand, which designed creative workshops and theater programs for organizations that serve at-risk and emotionally and/or physically abused children and teenagers.
Working on her craft since age 9 at the Piven Theater & Workshop and later at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts, Ann Cusack, the eldest of five acting siblings, found job as artistic staff assistant at the Goodman Theater in Chicago after college.
In her early 30s, Cusack began appearing on television, beginning with a recurring role on the ABC sitcom "The Jackie Thomas Show," starring Tom Arnold. After appeared with her father in her first TV movie, ABC's thriller "Overexposed" (1992), she landed her film debut, as Shirley Baker (left field), a WWII-era baseball player with a more than slight illiteracy problem, in Penny Marshall's fact-based All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) film, "A League of Their Own" (1992) starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Lori Petty. Petty would later suggest her for the small but funny role, as the submarine crazed woman, in Rachel Talalay's 1995 film based on the comic book created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, “Tank Girl” (1995).
Meanwhile, Cusack played small roles as a waitress in Harold Becker's crime/thriller starring Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, and Bill Pullman, "Malice" (1993), as Danny DeVito's secretary in Penny Marshall's box office flop drama/comedy "Renaissance Man" (1994), and a co-starring role as Dina Merrill's daughter in Richard Martini's independent suspense flick "Point of Betrayal" (1995). TV viewers could catch her in the drama/mystery TV movie "Victim of Love: The Shannon Mohr Story" (1993) and in an episode of popular, long-running CBS mystery series starring Angela Lansbury, "Murder, She Wrote."
In 1996, Cusack replaced Anita Barone as Karen Foxworthy on the sitcom “The Jeff Foxworthy Show” when the show went from ABC to NBC. She stayed in the series until it ended in 1997.
During this time, Cusack continued working for films. She played bit parts as Kitty Monaco in Richard Martini's drama/comedy "Cannes Man" (1996), as TV woman in van in Mike Nichols' film adaptation of Jean Poiret's play, "The Birdcage" (1996; starring Robin Williams), and as Noreen in Harold Ramis' box office flop fantasy comedy, "Multiplicity" (1996; starring Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell).
She was also cast in alongside Jack Lemmon and James Garner in Peter Segal's comedy "My Fellow Americans" (1996), with siblings John, Joan and Bill in George Armitage's romantic/comedy/thriller "Grosse Pointe Blank" (1997), and with brother John in Clint Eastwood's take on John Berendt's book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997). She also starred as the sexy Candy Dineen in writer/director Steven Diller's comedic gay movie, "Peoria Babylon" (1997).
After "The Jeff Foxworthy Show," Cusack secured a starring role in the short-lived Lifetime comedy series, "Maggie" (1998-1999), playing the title role of a middle-aged woman re-examined her life while starting again in veterinary school. She also portrayed Jan Armstrong, Astronaut Neil Armstrong's wife, in the Golden Globe-winning HBO miniseries that dramatized portrayal of the Apollo manned space program, "From the Earth to the Moon" (1998). She would wrap the decade by portraying a doctor Rupert Wainwright's controversial film, "Stigmata" (1999), starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne, and guest starring in an episode of the CBS sitcom starring Alfred Molina, "Ladies Man."
Hitting the new millennium, Cusack won Commitment to Chicago Award from the Chicago Film Critics Association she shared with Dick, Nancy, Bill, Joan, John, and Susie Cusack. She then co-starred in the Mike Nichols comedy "What Planet Are You From?," with Garry Shandling, Annette Bening, John Goodman, Greg Kinnear, and Ben Kingsley, before returning to the small screen as a guest in an episode of USA Network's series starring Annette O'Toole, "The Huntress," Fox award-winning legal drama/comedy starring Calista Flockhart, "Ally McBeal," and ABC short-lived comedy series "What About Joan." She also co-starred with Jay Mohr and Lisa Edelstein in the TV movie based on the novel by Dean R. Koontz, "Black River" (2001).
After having an uncredited role as the assistant to Billy Crystal's character in Joe Roth's romantic comedy movie starring Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and brother John, "America's Sweethearts" (2001), Cusack would disappear from the film scene until returning five years later in Steve Pink's teen comedy motion picture, "Accepted" (2006), playing the mother to a high-school senior (played by Justin Long) who played pranks by creating fake IDs.
During her hiatus from the big screen, Cusack worked mainly on television. She guest starred in such TV shows as "Frasier," "One Tree Hill," "Charmed," "Six Feet Under," "Ghost Whisperer," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Bones." She also co-starred in the drama/thriller made-for-television movie "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" (2006).
Returning to the big screen, she could be seen in Aaron J. Wiederspahn's off-beat drama film "The Sensation of Sight" (2006), with David Strathairn and Ian Somerhalder, Robert Ethan Gunnerson's "Arc" (2006), starring Peter Facinelli, and most recently in Will Wallace's award-winning comedy, "Cake" (2007). Meanwhile, on the small screen, she appeared in an episode of the CBS crime/legal drama starring Jennifer Finnigan, "Close to Home," and ABC legal/dramedy "Boston Legal." She also co-starred with Peter Krause and Julianna Margulies in the Emmy-nominated miniseries "The Lost Room" (2006).
Cusack is now working on her upcoming film projects, "Ace Ventura Jr.," starring Josh Flitter, and "The Neighbor," a romantic comedy directed by Eddie O'Flaherty and stars Matthew Modine.
On stage, Cusack once shared the stage with performers Rodney Kageyama, Dom Magwili, Rob Fukuzaki, and Anthony Begonia at the 1st Annual Cherry Blossom Festival held in Pasadena, California.
Chicago Film Critics Association: Commitment to Chicago Award, 2000 (shared with Dick, Nancy, Bill, Joan, John, and Susie Cusack.