American actress Annette O'Toole received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her starring role of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in the TV miniseries “The Kennedys of Massachusetts” (1990). However, she is perhaps most famous for playing Martha Kent in the hit TV series “Smallville” (2000-2007), from which she jointly netted a Teen Choice nomination. She also starred in the USA Network series “The Huntress” (2000-2001, as Dorothy Thorson), had a recurring role in “Nash Brides” (1996-1998) and has guest starred in “Law & Order,” “Boy Meets World,” “The Outer Limits,” and “S.W.A.T.,” among other TV shows. O'Toole has also acted in countless TV movies, including “The Girl Most Likely to...” (1973, her debut), “Stand By Your Man” (1981), “Copacabana” (1985), “Bridge to Terabithia” (1985), Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North” (1989), “A Mother's Revenge” (1993) and “Final Justice” (1998). On the big screen, O'Toole first gained notice as Lana Lang, Clark Kent's teenage girlfriend, in “Superman III” (1983), where she earned a Saturn nomination for her performance. She took home a New York International Independent Film & Video Festival Award for her performance in “Temptation” (2003, also a producer). Other films she has acted in include “One on One” (1977), “Foolin' Around” (1980), “Cat People” (1982), “Cross My Heart” (1987), “Love at Large” (1990), “Imaginary Crimes” (1994), “Here on Earth” (2000) and “Falling Up” (2009).
Also a songwriter, O'Toole was handed an Oscar nomination thanks to the duet “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” which she co-wrote with her husband for the film “A Mighty Wind” (2003).
“It's almost like an acting exercise for me. Maybe that’s why I’m able to do it, because I’ve been acting so long. You just kind of put yourself in the emotional place of this person singing the song and it just seems to come out, melodically and lyrically. That’s just the way I think about it.” Annette O'Toole (about songwriting)
O'Toole has been married twice. She has two daughters with her former husband, actor Bill Geisslinger (together from 1983 to 1993). Currently, she is married to actor/comedian/musician Michael McKean. Her romantic life was once also linked to Robby Benson, her costar in “One on One.”
Childhood and Family:
Annette O'Toole was born Annette Toole on April 1, 1952, in Houston, Texas, to Dorothy Geraldine and William West Toole, Jr. The daughter of a dance studio owner, she took up dancing at age 3. When she was 13 years old, her family relocated to Los Angeles, California. She later made the shift to acting and began taking drama classes. Annette enrolled at the University of California in Los Angeles, California.
On April 8, 1983, Annette married actor Bill Geisslinger, but they
divorced in 1993. The couple share two girls, Nell (born in 1984) and
Anna (born in 1988, also an actress). Annette married multi talented
Michael McKean (born on October 17, 1947) on March 20, 1999. Engaged
in 1998, she and her husband first met while he was shooting the TV
series “Laverne and Shirley.” The two met again when they
were both cast in Lifetime's television movie “Final Justice”
A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow
Annette O'Toole spent her youth studying dancing with her dance instructor mother. As a teenager, she performed on CBS' “The Danny Kaye Show.” Her interest in acting occurred after her family relocated from Houston to Los Angeles. After some training, she began appearing in TV series such as “This is the Life,” “My Three Sons” (both 1967), “Dan August,” “The Virginian” and “Gunsmoke” (all 1970).
After having an unaccredited part in the feature film “Little Big Man” (1970), she landed guest spots in “The Mod Squad,” “The Partridge Family” and “Hawaii Five-O” (all 1971) before making her debut as a regular cast member of “Bright Promise” (1972). The next year, O’Toole made her TV film debut in “The Girl Most Likely to...” (ABC, 1973).
O'Toole got her first significant film role in 1975 when she was cast as Doria Houston in the Jerry Belson written comedy “Smile.” The cast of the film also included Bruce Dern, Geoffrey Lewis, and Melanie Griffith. She then worked with Jack Lemmon and Ray Bolger on the NBC movie “The Entertainer” (1976) and played the supporting role of Wendy Geoghegan in the TV drama “The War Between the Tates” (1977), opposite Elizabeth Ashley and Richard Crenna, before returning to the big screen in “One on One” (1977), a sport themed movie co-written by star Robby Benson and his father Jerry Segal. In the film, O'Toole had her first romantic leading role as Benson's girlfriend Janet Hays. O'Toole then costarred with Eric Roberts, Sterling Hayden, Shelley Winters, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, and Judd Hirsch in Frank Pierson's drama “King of the Gypsies” (1978), based on the book of the same name by Peter Maas. She closed out the decade with roles in the TV films “Ladies in Waiting” (as Sandy) and “Love for Rent” (as Carol Martin, both 1979). Her TV credits during the mid- to the late 1970s also included one episodic roles in “Police Woman,” “S.W.A.T,” “Serpico,” and “Barnaby Jones” and a two episodic arch in “The Tony Randall Show” (as Melissa).
O'Toole starred with Gary Busey in the romantic comedy “Foolin' Around” (1980), portrayed Kathy in the HBO drama “Vanities” (1981), opposite Meredith Baxter and Shelley Hack, and was cast as country music legend Tammy Wynette in the made for TV film “Stand By Your Man” (1981). She then offered a memorable performance as Alice Perrin in Paul Schrader's Golden Globe nominated horror movie “Cat People,” alongside Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell and John Heard, and played the girlfriend of Nick Nolte, Elaine, in Walter Hill's “48 Hrs.” O'Toole was then cast in the coveted role of Lana Lang, the high school sweetheart of Clark Kent, in “Superman III” (1983), which starred Christopher Reeve. The film became one of the highest grossing films of the year, but received generally negative reviews from critics. O'Toole was nominated for a Saturn for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the film.
O'Toole did not appear in another film until the romantic comedy “Cross My Heart” (1987), where she starred opposite Martin Short. Meanwhile on the small screen, she had a starring role in the PBS “Bridge to Terabithia,” which was adapted from Katherine Paterson's novel, and portrayed Lola Lamar, Barry Manilow's love interest, in VBS' musical “Copacabana” (both 1985). Other TV movie credits include the syndicated “Arthur Hailey's 'Strong Medicine'” (1986, as the roommate of Pamela Sue Martin), “Broken Vows” (1987) and CBS' “Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North” (1989, as David Keith's wife).
The red haired actress next portrayed Mrs. King in Alan Rudolph's “Love at Large” (1990), alongside Tom Berenger, Elizabeth Perkins, Anne Archer, Kate Capshaw, and Ted Levine. Four years later, she resurfaced in the film “Imaginary Crimes” (1994), where she appeared with her former husband Bill Geisslinger. The drama starred Harvey Keitel and Fairuza Balk. “Imaginary Crimes” marked O'Toole's last feature for over five years.
O'Toole next received recognition with her work in the ABC miniseries “The Kennedys of Massachusetts” (1990), where she starred as Rose Kennedy and picked up an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV. She went on to land roles in the TV films “A Girl of the Limberlost” (1990), “Stephen King's 'It’” (1990), “The Dreamer of Oz” (1990), “White Lie” (1991), “Danielle Steel's 'Jewels'” (1992), “Kiss of a Killer” (1993), “Love Matters” (1993), “A Mother's Revenge” (1993), “My Brother's Keeper” (1995), “Dead by Sunset” (1995), “The Christmas Box” (1995), “The Man Next Door” (1996), “Keeping the Promise” (1997), “Final Descent” (1997) and “Final Justice” (1998, starred with Michael McKean). From 1996 to 1998, she portrayed the recurring role of the former wife of Don Johnson on the CBS series “Nash Bridges.” She also appeared in episodes of “Lonesome Dove: The Series,” “The Outer Limits,” “Dream On” (all 1995) and “Boy Meets World” (1999).
In the new millennium, O'Toole headlined the USA Network drama series “The Huntress,” which was inspired by a book about real life bounty hunter Dottie Thorson. The show had an original run from July 26, 2000, to September 9, 2001. Prior to her work in “The Huntress,” she guest starred in “Law & Order” and returned to film with a supporting role as Jo Cavanaugh in “Here on Earth” (2000), a drama starring Chris Klein and Leelee Sobieski.
O'Toole's television career enjoyed a significant boost when she was cast as Martha Kent, the adoptive mother of teenager Clark Kent, in the popular series “Smallville,” which starred Tom Welling as Superman/Clark Kent. She was on the show from 2000 to 2007. In 2005, she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Parental Units, which she shared with John Schneider.
In 2003, O'Toole starred as Nora Carver Huff in the movie “Temptation,” in which she won a Feature Film Award for Best Actress at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. She gained further notice when the duet “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” which she co-wrote with husband Michael McKean for the motion picture “A Mighty Wind” (2003), brought her an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Original Song and a Golden Satellite nomination for Best Original Song. She also co-wrote the songs “Fare Away” and “Potato's in the Paddy Wagon” for the film. She stated, “We wrote ‘A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow’ in an hour and a half. It was the second song we'd ever written together. Now I wake up every day with melodies in my head.”
Two years after leaving “Smallville,” O'Toole portrayed Grace O' Shea in the comedy film “Falling Up” (2009), which was directed and co-written by David M. Rosenthal. The film also stars Joseph Cross, Sarah Roemer, Snoop Dogg, Rachael Leigh Cook, Claudette Lali, Joe Pantoliano and Mimi Rogers.
Seattle Film Critics: Best Music, “A Mighty Wind,” 2003
New York International Independent Film & Video Festival: Feature Film Award, Best Actress, “Temptation,” 2002