Emmy Award winning American character actress Kathy Baker first made an impact with her supporting role as a doomed hooker in the film “Street Smart” (1987), opposite Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman. Due to her good performance, she was handed a Boston Society of Film Critics Award and a National Society of Film Critics Award, in addition to an Independent Spirit nomination. Following strong portrayals in such movies as “Permanent Record” (1988), “Jacknife” (1989) and “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), the actress enjoyed TV stardom as Dr. Jill Brock on the CBS critically acclaimed series “Picket Fences” (1992-1996), during which time she collected her three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, two Viewers for Quality Television Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She also received Emmy nominations for her guest performances in the shows “Touched by an Angel” (2000) and “Boston Public” (2001) and for her scene stealing role in the 2002 TV film “Door to Door.” Baker's more recent film credits include “The Cider House Rules” (1999), “The Glass House” (2001), “Assassination Tango” (2002), “Cold Mountain” (2003), the remake “All the King's Men” (2006) and “The Jane Austen Book Club” (2007). In the drama “Nine Lives” (2005), she took home a Bronze Leopard Award at the 2005 Locarno International Film Festival and shared a Gotham nomination. As a stage actress, Baker won an Obie Award after portraying May in the off-Broadway play “Fool for Love” (1983), by Sam Shepard. Baker also appeared in the films “Shades of Ray” (2008) and “Last Chance Harvey” (2008) and will costar in “Miss Nobody” (2010) and “Good Day for It” (2010).
Outside the spotlight, Baker has been married twice. She and first husband Donald Camillieri divorced after fourteen years of marriage. They have two children together. She is now the wife of TV director Steven Robman, whom she married in 2003.
Childhood and Family:
Kathy Whitton Baker was born on June 8, 1950, in Midland, Texas, to French-born Helene Andree and John Seawand Baker, who was an educator and geologist. She was raised in New Mexico as a Quaker. Kathy left the acting program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, and transferred to the University of California-Berkeley, from which she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in French in 1977. She lived in France for several years to study cuisine at Paris' renowned Cordon Bleu. Upon receiving her Le Grande Diploma, she returned to the United States and worked as a pastry chef.
Kathy was married to Donald Camillieri from 1985 to 1999. They have two children. She married Steven Robman, a TV director, in June 2003.
Kathy Baker began acting in the Albuquerque Children's Theatre when she was ten years old, but did not pursue a professional career until she was in her 30s. She spent several years in France studying cooking. Back to the U.S., Baker worked as a pastry chef in San Francisco and auditioned at the Magic Theatre. Eventually, she nabbed a starring role in the Magic Theatre's production of “The Man Who Killed the Buddha,” where she was discovered by Sam Shepard. Impressed by her performance, Shepard cast Baker opposite Ed Harris in the San Francisco's premiere of his play “Fool for Love” (1982), where she portrayed May. The actress reprised her role in the successful off-Broadway production the following year and received an Obie Award for her acting. After the success, she made her film acting debut as Scott Glenn's wife in Philip Kaufman's “The Right Stuff” (1983), which also starring Sam Shepard and Ed Harris.
Baker resurfaced in 1986 when she starred opposite Peter Weller in the thriller “A Killing Affair,” which was directed by David Saperstein. Later that year, she debuted on the small screen costarring with Marlo Thomas, Ray Baker and Caroline Kava in the television movie “Nobody's Child,” which aired on CBS. It was in 1987 that Baker enjoyed her breakout film role when she was cast as a prostitute named Punchy in the drama “Street Smart.” Costarring with Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman, Baker won a Boston Society of Film Critics and a National Society of Film Critics award and received an Independent Spirit nomination for her performance. Also in 1987, she guest starred in episodes of NBC's “Amazing Stories” and ABC's “Mariah.”
Next, Baker offered a memorable cameo performance in the touching drama “Permanent Record” (1988) and starred as a recovering drug addict in the drama “Clean and Sober” (also 1988), opposite Michael Keaton. The following year, she costarred opposite Robert De Niro and Ed Harris in the dramatic film “Jacknife.” She closed out the decade with a supporting part in the Oscar nominee “Dad” (1989), starring Jack Lemmon.
After playing Marcie Guilford in the HBO original film “The Image” (1990), Baker delivered a rare comedic appearance as the smitten neighbor in Tim Burton's “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), which starred Johnny Depp. She went on to have supporting roles in the medical drama “Article 99” and the thriller “Jennifer 8” (both 1992) and was reunited with De Niro for the comedy “Mad Dog and Glory” (1993). She also starred in the NBC TV movie “One Special Victory” (1991), a basketball drama directed by Stuart Cooper, and appeared in the Showtime drama “Lush Life” (1993).
However, it was Baker's role of Dr. Jill Brock in the David E. Kelley created series “Picket Fences” (1992-1996) that brought the actress massive praise and popularity. A slightly offbeat show, “Picket Fences” did not acquire a very large audience of viewers, but remained on TV for four seasons. For her performance, Baker took home three Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1993, 1995 and 1996), a 1994 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series-Drama, a 1995 Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series and two consecutive Viewers for Quality Television for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series in 1994 and 1995.
Baker revisited the big screen after the demise of “Picket Fences” with a supporting part as Peter Gallagher's sister-in-law in “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday” (1996). She next played the mother of two sons (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix and Billy Crudup) in the period drama “Inventing the Abbotts” (1997) and was featured in the Oscar nominated film “The Cider House Rules” (1999). Baker also portrayed a community activist in USA Network's drama “Not in This Town” (1997), had a feature role in the HBO original movie “Weapons of Mass Distraction” (also 1997) and delivered an emotionally moving performance as a survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing in Lifetime's “Oklahoma City: A Survivor's Story” (1998). Still in 1998, she had a recurring role as a woman accused of killing a baby in two episodes of the ABC legal drama “The Practice.” She then costarred as a social worker in director Michael Pressman's holiday drama “A Season for Miracles” (CBS, 1999).
Entering the new millennium, Baker appeared in the Sundance screened film “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her” (2000), which aired on Showtime in 2001. The same year, she also played a dual role in Showtime's fantasy film “Ratz” and guest starred as Ellen in an episode of CBS's drama “Touched By An Angel,” for which she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. She picked up her next Emmy nomination in 2001 for her guest stint as a controlling mother in the Fox show “Boston Public.” Her role was turned into a series regular in the 2001-2002 seasons. While working on “Boston Public,” Baker also costarred in the thriller movie “The Glass House” (2001).
Baker teamed up with William H. Macy, Helen Mirren and Kyra Sedgwick in the made-for-TV film “Door to Door” (2002) and received an Emmy nomination for her supporting role as Gladys Sullivan. Later that year, she acted with Robert Duvall in his drama film “Assassination Tango” (2002) and in 2003 was featured in the Nicole Kidman vehicle “Cold Mountain.” Baker then joined the ensemble cast of Rodrigo García's “Nine Lives” (2005), which included Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Joe Mantegna, Ian McShane, Aidan Quinn, Sissy Spacek and Robin Wright Penn. As Camille, she won a Bronze Leopard for Best Actress at the 2005 Locarno International Film Festival and jointly earned a Gotham nomination in the category of Best Ensemble Cast. The same year, she also acted in the TV films “Fathers and Sons” and “Spring Break Shark Attack” and appeared in episodes of “Medium” and “Nip/Tuck.”
Baker next costarred with Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini and Jackie Earle Haley in the gripping film “All the King's Men” (2006), which was based on a Robert Penn Warren novel. More recently, she portrayed Bernadette, a yoga enthusiast, in the big screen version of “The Jane Austen Book Club” (2007). On the small screen, she portrayed roles in the TV films “Babylon Fields” and “Jesse Stone: Sea Change” and made guest appearances in the shows “Gilmore Girls” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (all 2007).
Baker has completed filming the comedy feature “Shades of Ray” (2008). She also had supporting roles in the film “Last Chance Harvey” (2008), directed and written by Joel Hopkins and costarring Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and James Brolin. She will appear in “Miss Nobody” (2010), a dark comedy starring Leslie Bibb, and “Good Day for It” (2010).
Locarno International Film Festival: Bronze Leopard, Best Actress, “Nine Lives,” 2005
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1996
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1995
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1995
Viewers for Quality Television: Q Award, Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1995
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, “Picket Fences,” 1994
Viewers for Quality Television: Q Award, Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1994
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1993
Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, “Street Smart,” 1988
National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, “Street Smart,” 1988