Mare Winningham
Birth Date:
May 16, 1959
Birth Place:
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Famous for:
Her role as Georgia in 'Georgia' (1995)
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Oscar-nominated, two-time Emmy Award winning American actress and folk singer-songwriter Mare Winningham first gained notice on the small screen with her supporting turn as Dennis Weaver's daughter, Marlene, on the noted TV film “Amber Waves” (1980), from which she picked up her first Emmy Award. She continued to deliver award nominated performances in the movies “Threshold” (1981) and “Miracle Mile” (1988) and the TV films “Love Is Never Silent” (1985) and “Better Off Dead” (1993).Mare gained even wider recognition as a prospering folk-rock singer dealing with her sister's envy and addictions in the Ulu Grosbard-directed musical “Georgia” (1995). The famous role garnered her an Independent Spirit Award and her Academy Award nomination.

Two years after the success of “Georgia,” Winningham enjoyed another big hit with her role of Lurleen Wallace on the TNT biopic “George Wallace” (1997). She received an Emmy Award and Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Satellite nominations for her outstanding performance in the show. The actress also received Emmy nominations for the made-for-TV film “The Boys Next Door” (1996) and her guest role in the series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2003), and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her role in “The Maldonado Miracle” (2003). In 2006, she jointly won a Camie Award for her work in the television movie “The Magic of Ordinary Days” (2005).

Winningham's admirers should not miss her performances in the upcoming films “Swing Vote” and “Brothers” (both 2008).

As a singer, Winningham, who made her first public appearance singing in the TV series “The Gong Show” (1976), has released three albums: “What Might Be” (1992), “Lonesomers” (1998) and “Refuge Rock Sublime” (2007). Despite her acting schedule, she manages to find time to perform in clubs, coffeehouses and on tours.

Winningham has been married twice. After having a brief marriage to actor A Martinez (together in 1981), she married TV technical advisor William Mapel, with whom she had five children, including the suicidal oldest son Riley Mapel (born in 1981, died in 2005). Winningham's only daughter, Calla, is following in her footsteps as a songwriter-singer. While in high school, Winningham dated Val Kilmer for three years.

The 5' 6” beauty was raised Irish Catholic. After feeling her spiritual life was lacking at age 41, she followed the advice of a friend and attended a class tutored by Rabbi Neal Wienberg at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, California. She eventually converted to Judaism on March 3, 2003, and became a member of two Conservative synagogues, the Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles and Temple Knesset Israel in Hollywood, California.

Spacey's Pal

Childhood and Family:

Mary Megan Winningham, who later adopted the nickname “Mare,” was born on May 16, 1959, in Phoenix, Arizona. Along with three brothers and one sister, she grew up in Northridge, California, under the guidance of her father, who was the chairman of the Department of Physical Education at California State University, in Northridge (CSUN), and her mother, who worked as a college counselor and English teacher at a local high school. In Northridge, Mare enrolled at Andasol Avenue Elementary School. A natural artist, she acted and took guitar lessons. Mare selected the extended drama option at Patrick Henry Junior High School and spent her summer vacations honing in on her craft at CSUN's Teenage Drama Workshop. She went to the same high school as Kevin Spacey and Val Kilmer at Chatsworth High School in Los Angeles.

Mare had a short-lived marriage with actor A Martinez. Wed in 1981, the couple divorced later that same year. She tied the knot with William Maple, a television technical advisor, in 1983. They welcomed their first child, son Riley Sam Mapel, on November 7, 1981, and their second son, Paddy Mapel, was born on September 30, 1983. Their next sons, Jack Walter Mapel and Hap Atticus Mapel, were born on April 15, 1985, and September 13, 1988, respectively. Mare gave birth to her first daughter, Calla Louise Mapel, in 1987.

A tragedy struck her family when her oldest child, Riley, committed suicide on August 14, 2005. He was an aspiring actor.

George Wallace


First discovering a love for acting after watching an interview with Kym Karath of “The Sound of Music” fame on the Art Linkletter television show “House Party” when she was young, Mare Winningham made her stage debut at age 12 in “Hansel and Gretel” while studying drama at the Teenage Drama Workshop at California State University. However, it was music that first gained her TV exposure. At age 16, she sang the Beatles' “Here, There, and Everywhere” on “The Gong Show,” a disreputable talent show hosted by Chuck Barris. Although she signed no record contracts after the performance, the talented teen won the attention of a Hollywood agent thanks to her portrayal of Maria in her senior class production of “The Sound of Music.”

Before long, Winningham was offered a role on “Young Pioneers” and the “Young Pioneers Christmas” pilots for the short-lived Western series “The Young Pioneers” (ABC, 1978), and earned her Screen Actor's Guild card after performing three lines in an episode of “James at 15” (1977). She next appeared in the CBS TV film “Special Olympics/A Special Kind of Love,” playing one of the Gallitzin children, Janice. A string of guest roles ensued before she returned to TV film in “Steeletown” and “The Death of Ocean View Park” (both 1979).

However, Winningham did not receive any major recognition until she was cast as free-spirited Marlene Burkhardt on the critically praised ABC film “Amber Waves” (1980), opposite Dennis Weaver and Kurt Russell. For her bright effort, she picked up an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special. She gained additional notice for playing a New York teen prostitute named Micki Johansen on another ABC film, “Off the Minnesota Strip” (also 1980), which won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special. It was also 1980 when Winningham had her first taste in front of the big screen camera playing the supporting role of Modeena Dandridge on the Paul Simon vehicle “One Trick Pony.” She was nominated for a Genie award in the category of Best Performance by a Foreign Actress for her role in 1981's “Threshold,” starring Donald Sutherland. In the film, she played Carol Severance, the first recipient of a synthetic heart.

Winningham remained busy working on such TV films as “Freedom” (1981), which also saw her perform three songs, “Missing Children: A Mother's Story” (1982), “Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues” (1984, starred in the title role) and “Single Bars, Single Women” (1984). She also appeared in the epic miniseries “The Thorn Birds” (1983) and netted an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special in the depression-era drama “Love Is Never Silent” (1985), in which she played Margaret Ryder.

Still in 1985, Winningham joined a group of young actors called “the Brat Pack” for the Joel Schumacher romance “St. Elmo's Fire,” playing Wendy Beamish. The film was a success and she followed it up with supporting roles in the comedy “Nobody's Fool” (1986, with Rosanna Arquette and Eric Roberts), Andrei Konchalovsky's indie-drama “Shy People” (1987), the Alan Rudolph-helmed fantasy “Made in Heaven” (1987, starred Timothy Hutton) and the Tom Hanks starring vehicle “Turner & Hooch” (1989). She received an Independent Spirit nomination for her scene-stealing role of Julie Peters in the chilling thriller “Miracle Mile” (1988), opposite Anthony Edwards. Winningham could also be seen in the successful TV movie “Eye on the Sparrow” (NBC, 1987) and the Los Angeles stage production of “Hurlyburly” (1988), costarring Danny Aiello and Sean Penn.

After a series of TV film performances in the early 1990s, including “Love and Lies” (ABC, 1990), Winningham returned to films in “Hard Promises” (1991), which starred Sissy Spacek, William Petersen and Brian Kerwi, and released a debut album called “What Might Be” the next year with the ill-fated independent label Bay Cities. It was acting, however, that kept the multi-faceted artist in the limelight as she picked up a CableACE nomination for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries for her work in the TV film “Better Off Dead” (1993). Also in 1994, she brilliant played the common-law wife, Mattie, on Lawrence Kasdan's “Wyatt Earp,” which starred Kevin Costner. She rejoined Costner later that same year for the family drama “The War,” directed by Jon Avnet.

Winningham's acting career, however, did not reach its peak until 1995. Playing the illustrious C&W artist and older sister of Jennifer Jason Leigh in the drama “Georgia,” which was directed by Ulu Grosbard and written by Barbara Turner, she delivered one of her best performances to date and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and an Independent Spirit Award in the same category. She also netted a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.

“After 'Georgia,' I had hoped something would click. It was easier to book local gigs. That's all I noticed.” Mare Winningham

After delivering an Emmy nominated turn as Sheila on the TV film “The Boys Next Door” (1996), she co-starred as Lurleen Wallace on the TNT biopic “George Wallace” (1997), opposite Gary Sinise, and was handed an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her work in the film. The role also brought her Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Satellite nominations. During the 1998-1999 seasons, Winningham joined the cast of the NBC popular medical drama “ER” in the recurring role of Amanda Lee. Her second album, “Lonesomers,” hit the music store in 1998. She said, “I was trying to take the word 'lonesome,' which is so depleted and sad, and do something different with it. I thought that by making 'Lonesomers' a category of people, a sort of group or fraternity of folks who are alone, I could find some humor in it, and some hope.”

In the new millennium, the actress found roles in TV films like “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal” (2000, with Sam Neill), Lifetime's “Snap Decision” (2001, opposite Felicity Huffman), “Tru Confessions” (2002), and “The Maldonado Miracle” (2003), in which she took home a Daytime Emmy for her role as Maisie. She also guest starred in such series as HBO's “Six Feet Under” (2002) and NBC's “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2003). For her role as Sandra Blaine in the latter show, Winningham nabbed a 2004 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. She joined Larry Miller and Richard Ruccolo for the David E. Kelley series “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire” (2003), which had a short life on CBS.

2004 to 2007 saw Winningham in the independent film “Dandelion,” the TV film “The Magic of Ordinary Days” (2005), and the drama film “War Eagle, Arkansas” (2007). She portrayed Lynne Young on the sport-themed series “Clubhouse” (2004), opposite Jeremy Sumpter and Dean Cain, and had recurring roles on “Grey's Anatomy” (2006-2007, as Susan Grey) and “Boston Legal” (2007, as Patrice Kelly). Her third album, “Refuge Rock Sublime,” was released in 2007 under the Craig & Co. label.

Recently, Winningham completed filming “Swing Vote” (2008), a comedy film that reunited her with actor Kevin Costner. She also has a supporting part, opposite Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, in the upcoming film “Brothers” (2008), by director Jim Sheridan.


  • Character and Morality in Entertainment: Camie, “The Magic of Ordinary Days,” 2006

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, “George Wallace,” 1998

  • Independent Spirit: Best Supporting Female, “Georgia,” 1996

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special, “Amber Waves,” 1980

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