Desperately Seeking Susan
Actress and singer Ann Magnuson first came to the attention of moviegoers as a cigarette girl in Susan Seidelman's successful independent drama “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985). She has since acted in a number of films, including “Making Mr. Right” (1987), “Tequila Sunrise” (1988), “Love at Large” (1990), “Clear and Present Danger” (1994), “Before and After” (1996), “Small Soldiers” (1998), “Panic Room” (2001, with Jodie Foster), “The United States of Leland” (2003), “Open House” (2004) and “Chasing Tchaikovsky” (2007). In addition, she had a regular role on the sitcom “Anything But Love” (ABC, 1989-1992), a recurring role on “All Grown Up” (2003-2007, as the voice of Miss O'Keats) and made guest appearances in “The Hidden Room,” “Caroline in the City,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Wanda at Large,” “Frasier,” “CSI: Miami” and “Valentine,” among other TV shows. In the TV film adaptation “The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas” (1996), she was cast as Lily Munster, a role originated by Yvonne De Carlo in the 1960s TV series “The Munsters.” Magnuson has also released two solo albums, “The Luv Show” (1995) and “Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories” (2006). She has performed on stage in such productions as “You Could Be Home Now” (1990), “Rave Mom” (2001), “Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories” (2003-2006) and “Back Home Again (Dreaming Of Charleston)” (2009), and in the cabaret show “Dueling Harps” (2007-2008).
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of an attorney and a journalist, Ann Magnuson was born on January 4, 1956, in Charleston, West Virginia. She graduated from George Washington High School in Charleston. She moved to New York City after earning a degree in theater from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1978. In 1998, Ann’s brother passed away due to complications from AIDS.
Ann married John Bertram in 2002. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
Arriving in New York City in 1978, Ann Magnuson worked as an intern at the Ensemble Studio Theater before co-founding Club 57 in 1979, where she was a DJ and performer. She also performed at the Mudd Club in Manhattan throughout the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Along with collaborators that included Eric Bogosian and Joey Arias, she received notice for her comedic commentaries. Meanwhile, Magnuson also performed with the all girl percussion group Pulsallama and in 1982, the group released a single titled “The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body.”
Magnuson's big screen career began in the early 1980s with roles in “The Long Island Four” (1980), “Vortex” (1982, starred James Russo), and Tony Scott's “The Hunger” (1983, starred Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon). After a supporting role as Malda in Larry Cohen's thriller “Perfect Strangers” (1984), she appeared in “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985), which was directed by Susan Seidelman and starred Rosanna Arquette and Madonna. The film received a Cesar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Also in 1985, Magnuson co-founded the college rock band Bongwater, with Mark Kramer, who was also the founder the Shimmy Disc record label. The group released four albums and several college radio hits before splitting up in 1992.
Magnuson next costarred in the independent drama “Sleepwalk” (1986), which received a Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic category at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival. She also portrayed a role in “Making Mr. Right” (1987), which reunited her with director Susan Seidelman, William Richert's “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon” (1988, with River Phoenix), Harvey Keith's “Mondo New York” (1988), Robert Towne's “Tequila Sunrise” (1988, as the former wife of Mel Gibson), David Leland's “Checking Out” (1989, opposite Jeff Daniels and Kathleen York), and “Love at Large” (1990, as Tom Berenger's ex-girlfriend).
A regular of the Manhattan downtown club scene of the 1980s, Magnuson made her TV debut in an episode of Cinemax Comedy’s “Vandemonium Plus” (1987, she also wrote the show). A year later, her 15 minute video performance piece titled “Made for Television” (made in 1981) aired on the WNET-PBS series “Alive from Off Center.” Still on TV, Magnuson made her TV film acting debut in “Tales from the Hollywood Hills: A Table at Ciro's” (1987) where she played Darlene. From 1989 to 1992, she was cast as a magazine editor in the ABC comedy series “Anything But Love,” which starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis. In 1995, Magnuson released her first solo album, “The Luv Show,” on Geffen Records. Produced by Don Fleming, the album was considered a commercial failure.
Magnuson was still active on television and in films throughout the 1990s. Besides appearing regularly on “Anything But Love,” she guest starred in such TV series as “The Hidden Room” (1993), “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” “The John Larroquette Show” (1996), “Caroline in the City” (1997), “The Drew Carey Show” (1997), “From the Earth to the Moon” (1998), and “Damian Cromwell's Postcards from America” (1997). She was also reunited with Seidelman for the TV film remake of “The Barefoot Executive” (1995) and offered a notable performance as Lily Munster in “The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas” (1996), a TV movie adaptation of the 1960s TV sitcom “The Munsters.” Her film credits included “Cabin Boy” (1994, starred Chris Elliott), “Clear and Present Danger” (1994, played a secretary named Moira Wolfson), “Tank Girl” (1995, had an unaccredited role), Barbet Schroeder's “Before and After” (1996, starred Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson and Edward Furlong), “Still Breathing” (1997, starred Brendan Fraser and Joanna Going), “I Woke Up Early the Day I Died” (1998, starred Billy Zane), Joe Dante's “Small Soldiers” (1998, as Irene Abernathy) and “Friends & Lovers” (1999, starred Stephen Baldwin, Claudia Schiffer and Robert Downey, Jr.).
Entering the new millennium, Magnuson appeared in the independent thriller “Housebound” (2000, starred Katharina Wressnig and Peter Sarsgaard), the Independent Spirit nominee for Best Screenplay, “Love & Sex” (2000, starred Famke Janssen and Jon Favreau), the Sundance screened “The Caveman's Valentine” (2001, played the supporting role of Moira), the Mariah Carey unsuccessful vehicle “Glitter” (2001, as Kelly), the Jodie Foster led thriller “Panic Room” (2001, played a real estate agent named Lydia Lynch), Adam Rifkin's “Night at the Golden Eagle” (2002), “The United States of Leland” (2003, opposite Don Cheadle, Ryan Gosling, Chris Klein, Jena Malone, Kevin Spacey, Sherilyn Fenn and Michael Peña) and “Ghostlight” (2003, starred as Barbara Rosen). She also portrayed Sarah Jane Tibbett in Dan Mirvish's musical “Open House” (2004). She did not make another film until 2007's “Chasing Tchaikovsky,” a comedy by director Greg Lalazarian. On the small screen, Magnuson played Rita Bahlberg, a liberal political commentator, in an episode of “Wanda at Large” and delivered a memorable guest performance as Harvest in an episode of the Kelsey Grammer's sitcom “Frasier” (both 2003). She went on to guest star in “Quintuplets,” “CSI: Miami” (as Ms. Arena, both 2004), “Unscripted” (2005) and “American Dad” (2007). In the TV film “Our House” (2006), she portrayed the small role of Geena. Magnuson also provided the voice of Miss O'Keats on six episodes of the Nickelodeon animated series “All Grown Up” from 2003 to 2007.
Magnuson toured the one woman show “Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories” from 2003 to 2006. In 2005, she played Sister Elizabeth Donderstock in the play “The Book of Liz Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris” at the Second Stage Theatre in Hollywood, California. Other stage work included “You Could Be Home Now,” “Rave Mom” and John Patrick Shanley's “Four Dogs and a Bone.” She also performed in the cabaret act “Dueling Harps” (2007-2008), opposite Alexander Ranni, Adam Dugas, and Mia Theodoratus.
After over a decade, Magnuson revisited the recording studio for the album “Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories,” which was released in December 2006 on Asphodel Records. It was produced, co-written and arranged by her long time collaborator and musical director Kristian Hoffman.
Recently, in 2009, Magnuson appeared as Circe in an episode of the comedy series “Valentine” called “Hound Dog.” She also created a one woman show titled “Back Home Again (Dreaming Of Charleston)” (2009).
Miriam will appear in the upcoming dramatic film “Woman's Picture,” which was written and directed by Brian Pera. It is slated to be released in 2010.