A New Orleans-born performer, Grace Zabriskie is a character actress who has given to tasty small roles in many popular American films and television series. She made her major film debut in Norma Rae (1979) and has appeared in countless of other work since then. Predominantly, she has been effective in movies playing mothers, such as in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), The Big Easy (1986), Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994). Additionally, she has showed her great talents in such films as David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (1990), the Oscar-nominated Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) and The Grudge (2004).
On the small screen, the American beauty is maybe best-known by TV viewers for playing Laura Palmer’s hysterical mother in Twin Peaks (1990-1991). Other work include recurring roles on “Hill Street Blues” (1986), “Seinfeld” (1992), “John Doe” (2002-2003) and WB series “Charmed” (2003), as well as performances in the television films My Father, My Son (1988), The Ryan White Story (1989) and A Deadly Silence (1989) and Bastard Out of Carolina (1996). Zabriskie currently teams up with Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin in her newest series, “Big Love” (2006).
Aside from acting, multi-talented Zabriskie currently makes her own original paintings, woodwork art and unique sculptures that can be found in Los Angeles galleries.
Childhood and Family:
On May 17, 1941, Grace Zabriskie, known by family and close friends as Gracie, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She relocated to Atlanta and worked as a silk-screen painter as well as performed her own original written poetry at coffee shops and various artist-hangouts. The New Orleans native headed to Los Angeles to pursue film career in 1979.
New Orleans-born and raised Grace Zabriskie got her start working as a silk-screen painter in Atlanta where she could also be seen at diverse artist-hangouts and cafés performing her poems. She moved to Hollywood in 1979 and made her film acting debut with a bit part in the Sally Field and Beau Bridges starring vehicle Norma Rae, that same year. She subsequently appeared in the TV film The Concrete Cowboys (1979), the ABC miniseries “John Steinbeck’s East of Eden” (1981), offering a superb supporting role of Mrs. Ames, and the highly acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), which cast her as the mother of Debra Winger.
Perfectly playing mother, Zabriskie was cast in the similar role such as playing the Cajun mom of Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy (1986), Matt Dillon’s declined parent in Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and Sissy Spacek’s mother in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994). Besides, she played a wide variety of roles in such films as David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (1990, as a crazed killer), the Oscar-nominated Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and the ensemble-driven Chain of Desire (1992, played the wife of Malcolm McDowall).
Meanwhile, Zabriskie emerged as a productive television actress. She landed a recurring role in the NBC daytime soap “Santa Barbara” (1985, as Theda Bassett), and was perfectly cast as Terry Sylvestri, a snake-handler trying to romance a detective in two episodes of NBC’s “Hill Street Blues” (1986) and as Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s sympathetic wife in the biopic made-for-TV film My Father, My Son (1988). She was seen a woman whose grandchild suffering with AIDS in the ABC film The Ryan White Story (1989) and played the therapist of a sexually abused teenager in A Deadly Silence (1989). Zabriskie, however, is probably best-remembered by TV audiences as the terribly sniveling mother of murder victim Laura Palmer in the David Lynch-created cult favorite “Twin Peaks” (1990-1991), a role she reprised in 1992 for its spin-off movie, Fire Walk With Me. She also began a recurring role as Susan Ross’ mother in “Seinfeld” in 1992.
Keeping on alternating between work on film and TV, Zabriskie had a feature role in Van Sant’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), gave a powerful portrayal of the lonely and hopeless widow in The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995), finely played Jennifer Jason Leigh’s mother in the Showtime controversial but critically-praised Bastard Out of Carolina (1996, directed by Anjelica Huston), appeared in Armageddon (1998) and guest starred in an episode of “Profiler” (1998). She rounded out the decade with roles in Trash (1999), A Texas Funeral (1999) and Me and Will (1999) .
2000-2003 found performances in A Fate Foretold (2000), Home the Horror Story (2000), Puppy Love (2000), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), They Crawl (2001), .S.V.P. (2002), The House on Turk Street (2002) , The Glow (2002, TV) and The Wind Effect (2003). Also, she guest starred in “Jesse” (2000), “The West Wing” (2000),” The Guardian” (2002), and had recurring roles as Yellow Teeth on six episodes of the UPN series “John Doe” (2002-2003) and as The Crone in the popular WB series “Charmed” (2003). In 2004, Zabriskie proved effective as a senile grandmother susceptible to the paranormal occurrences in her home in the American remake The Grudge.
After a guest stint as Connie Buckley in 2005’s “The Other Side of the Tracks,” an episode of the TV series “Medium,” Zabriskie co-starred opposite Serena Scott Thomas, Brett Cullen and Bruce Payne in writer-director Amy Waddell’s movie Brothel (2006). She now stars as Lois in the drama series “Big Love” (2006). Among her costars are Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin. She is set to play supporting role Adrienne in the forthcoming comedy film, Careless (2007), for director Peter Spears.