1970s actress Adrienne Barbeau garnered praise while portraying the Golden Globe nominated role of divorced daughter Carol (1972-1978) on her TV debut appearance, the CBS controversial sitcom “Maude.” She later appeared on the big screen, playing roles in such films as The Fog (1980), Cannonball Run (1981), Swamp Thing (1982), Creepshow (1982), Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989), Two Evil Eyes (1990), A Wake In Providence (1999) and The Convent (2000).
Barbeau lent her voice for Catwoman in “Batman, the Animated Series” and played Oswald's mother on “The Drew Carey Show.” More recent, she acted in the 2003 series "Carnivàle" and the 2004 film Ghost Rock (a.k.a. The Reckoning). The 60-year-old actress whose poster wearing lingerie sold well in the late 1970s will soon complete her upcoming film project, Unholy.
On Broadway, Adrienne Barbeau debuted in “Fiddler on the Roof.” She received a Tony Award nomination for portraying the original bad girl Betty Rizzo in “Grease,” through her rendition of "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee."
French-Canadian, Armenian Lineage
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of a French-Canadian father and an Armenian mother, Adrienne Barbeau was born on June 11, 1945 in Sacramento, California. When she was 12 years old, her parents divorced and Barbeau had to do therapy for years to overcome her trauma.
Young Barbeau took dancing and singing lessons with her mother’s encouragement. She was a vigorous member in theater while studying in high school and Foothill Junior College, Los Altos Hills, California.
On January 1, 1979, Adrienne Barbeau tied the knot with director John Carpenter (of the low-budget horror classic Halloween (1977), Barbeau appeared in his films The Fog (1980) and Escape from New York (1981)). In 1984, at the same year of the birth of first son John Cody Carpenter, Barbeau and Carpenter divorced. Eight years later in 1992, Barbeau remarried to actor, writer and producer Billy Van Zandt (born 1958). At the age of 51 on March 19, 1997, Barbeau gave birth to twin sons, Walker Steven Barbeau Van Zandt and William Dalton Barbeau Van Zandt.
Bad Girl Rizzo
A theater activist, Adrienne Barbeau has toured Pacific military bases as a member of the San Jose Light Opera when she was 19 years old. She then headed to the Big Apple and had her first job as a go-go dancer from 1964 to 1967. It was 1968 when Barbeau landed a cast as Hodel in revival of Broadway production “Fiddler on the Roof.” She followed it up three years later with the role of the original bad girl Betty Rizzo in “Grease” and through her rendition of "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," Barbeau nabbed the prestigious Tony Award nomination.
Barbeau debuted on television playing the supporting role of divorced daughter Carol in the CBS controversial sitcom "Maude" (1972, starring Beatrice Arthur). She played the role from 1972 to 1978 and brought her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. During her stint in the series, Barbeau acted in such telemovies as The Great Houdini, Having Babies, Red Alert, Return to Fantasy Island (a.k.a. Fantasy Island II), Crash, Someone's Watching Me! and Top of the Hill.
In 1980, Barbeau got her first big screen role as Stevie Wayne in then-husband John Carpenter’s chilling, old-fashioned campfire ghost story The Fog (with Hal Holbrook and Jamie Lee Curtis). After acting on the telefilms Valentine Magic on Love Island and Tourist, she costarred in Hal Needham’s cross-country car race comedy, The Cannonball Run (1981), alongside all-star casts including Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. She also reunited with then-husband John Carpenter in his cult classic Escape from New York (starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef) and costarred with Jack Albertson in the telemovie Charlie and the Great Balloon Chase (both in 1981).
The next year, Wes Craven cast her to play Alice Cable opposite Louis Jourdan in his screen version of Len Wein’s comic book, Swamp Thing and Barbeau reunited with actor Hal Holbrook in George A.Romero and Stephen King’s tales of terror inspired by the E.C. comics of the 1950s, Creepshow. She then costarred with Keir Dullea in Nico Mastorakis’ sci-fi The Next One (1984) and played roles in the 1985 TV movies, Seduced and Bridge Across Time (a.k.a. Terror at London Bridge).
Alan Metter’s comedy Back to School (1986, starring Rodney Dangerfield) and Jag Mundhra’s suspense horror Open House (1987, alongside Joseph Bottoms) were Barbeau’s films before she starred as the long-lost Dr. Kurtz in J.F. Lawton’s comedy Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989). Afterward, she played the lead role of Jessica Valdemar (segment "The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar") in Dario Argento and George A. Romero’s horror tales based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Due occhi diabolici (a.k.a. Two Evil Eyes).
The 1990s saw Barbeau acted on the telemovies Blood River, Doublecrossed, Scott Turow's The Burden of Proof, The Parsley Garden, Jailbreakers, Bram Stoker's Burial of the Rats (starring as The Queen) and A Champion's Fight: A Moment of Truth Movie (a.k.a. Shattered Hearts). She also provided the voice of Catwoman for "Batman: The Animated Series" on Fox. In 1999, she costarred Victoria Rowell and Vincent Pagano in husband Billy Van Zandt-written film, the romantic comedy A Wake In Providence. She also served as narrator of Judith Krantz's Mistral's Daughter (1996) and Jane Heller's Internal Affairs (1996) audiobooks.
Martin Spottl’s thriller drama Across the Line (2000, starring Brad Johnson and Sigal Erez), Mike Mendez’s college horror The Convent (2000, alongside Bill Moseley) and Craig Clyde’s family movie No Place Like Home were Barbeau’s films in the new millennium. She subsequently switched to TV and appeared in the telemovies Spring Break Lawyer (2001), The Santa Trap (2002) and Ring of Darkness (2004). She also lent her voice for Catwoman/Selina Kyle in the animated series "Gotham Girls" and costarred Michael J. Anderson in the fantasy drama series "Carnivàle" (as Ruthie).
More recent, Barbeau shared the screen with Gary Busey, Michael Worth and Jeff Fahey in Dustin Rikert’s old West drama Ghost Rock (2004, a.k.a. The Reckoning). Soon, she will star in Daryl Goldberg’s horror film, Unholy.
An actress mostly acted in horror films, Adrienne Barbeau said, "I used to go to bed convinced that I had leeches all over my back and body."
Theatre World Award: “Grease,” 1972