Blythe Danner
Birth Date:
February 3, 1943
Birth Place:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
5' 7''
Famous for:
Her role in the off-Broadway play Summertree
The George School, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
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Blythe Danner_120412
Huff's Mom


Blythe Danner is a two time Emmy Award winning American actress. She won the awards for her supporting role as Isabelle 'Izzy' Huffstodt on the Showtime series “Huff” (2004-2006). She is also recognized for her Emmy nominating performance in Lifetime's “We Were the Mulvaneys” (2002), CBS' “Back When We Were Grownups” (2004, also received a Golden Globe nomination) and the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” (11 episodes, 2001-2006). Prior to her success on the small screen, the genteel blonde thespian built a strong career on the stage. She won a Tony Award for her scene stealing role as Jill Tanner in “Butterflies Are Free” (1970) and received three additional Tony nominations for her performances in Harold Pinter's “Betrayal” (1980), a revival of Tennessee Williams's “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1988) and  a revival of “Follies” (2001). Danner also has starred in a number of films, including “The Myth of Fingerprints” (1997), “The X Files (1998), “Meet the Parents” (2000) and its sequels, “Meet the Fockers” (2004) and “Little Fockers” (2010), “Waiting for Forever” (2010) and “Paul” (2011). Danner is the mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and director Jake Paltrow. In 2004, she received the Special Award for Special career-achievement honor at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival and  the Women in Film Lucy Award. She was honored with an Award for Ongoing Commitment at the 2002 Environmental Media Awards.

Pennsylvania Native

Childhood and Family:

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Blythe Katherine Danner was born on February 3, 1943, to parents Harry Earl Danner, a bank executive, and Katherine Danner. She has a brother, opera singer/actor Harry Danner, a sister, former performer turned director Dottie Danner, and a half brother, violin maker William H. Moennig. She attended George School, a private Quaker secondary school in Newton, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Bard College in 1965. Blythe received honorary doctorate of fine arts degrees from Williams College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and her alma mater, Bard College.

“I was blessed. I found the love of my life, and we had the time of our lives. We shared our time filling the air with laughter, love, and happiness. Now I am full of spirit, that is full of Bruce, and I am at peace.” Blythe Danner

On December 14, 1969, Blythe married producer and director Bruce Paltrow, whom she met in New York City. She gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, on September 27, 1972. Their second child, Jake Paltrow, was born on September 26, 1975. Mr. Paltrow, who had suffered from oral cancer for several years, died at age 58 on October 3, 2002 while vacationing in Rome, Italy, to celebrate Gwyneth's 30th birthday. The cause of his death was complications from cancer and pneumonia.  
In cooperation with The Oral Cancer Foundation, Blythe organize a fund in her husband's name to address the issues of oral cancer in the US. The scope of the foundation is mainly in the areas of  public awareness, early detection, patient support functions and research. She is also a long time environmental activist.

“It is my responsibility in treading on this Earth, to give back from which I take. To me, this means that I recycle, use the solar energy that is given out free to all of us, and I conserve what energy I do use. If I do my part, I can only hope that someone will follow my lead.” Blythe Danner

Butterflies Are Free


After graduating from college, Blythe Danner joined the Theatre Company of Boston, where she made her professional debut as Laura in “The Glass Menagerie” (1965). After working in other productions like “ The Service of Joseph Axminster,” “The Way Out of the Way In” and “The Knack,” she made her NYC debut with the troupe's 1966 revue, “The Infantry,” which was staged off-Broadway. Danner left the company after one season and went on to perform with Trinity Square Repertory Company (now Trinity Repertory Company) in Providence, RI in productions like “A Midsummer Night's Dream” and “Three Sisters” (both 1967). The same year, she was cast in first Broadway show, the musical “Mata Hari,” but it closed during out-of-town tryout.

In 1968, Danner gained attention for her performance in the Lincoln Center production of “Summertree.” She followed it up with roles on Broadway plays like “Cyrano de Bergerac” (April 25 - June 8, 1968), “Lovers” (July 25 - November 30, 1968), where she served as a standby for Fionnuala Flanagan, “The Miser” (May 8 - June 21, 1969) as well as off Broadway productions such as “Up Eden” (1968) and “Someone's Comin' Hungry” (1969). Danner's big breakthrough came when she was cast as the balmy, sexually liberated teenage divorcee Jill Tanner in Leonard Gershe's “Butterflies Are Free,” which opened Broadway on October 21, 1969 at the Booth Theatre. Under the direction of Milton Katselas, she won a 1970 Tony in the category of Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for her performance. She remained with the show until July 2, 1972. In the meantime, she also appeared on the Los Angeles production of “Major Barbara” (1971) and the Broadway revival of “Twelfth Night” (March 2 - April 8, 1972).

Danner made her television debut in an episode of ABC's “N.Y.P.D.” called “Day Tripper” in 1968. She continued to appear in several television movies in early 1970s, such as “To  Confuse the Angel,” the NBC production of the Broadway musical “George M!” (as Agnes Nolan Cohan), “Dr. Cook's Garden,” “ Invitation to a March” and “The Scarecrow,” before landing her first film role in George Bloomfield's big screen adaptation of Algis Budrys's novel, “To Kill a Clown” (1972), co-starring Alan Alda. She played a rejected wife opposite Peter Falk and John Cassavetes on an episode of NBC's “Columbo” called “Étude in Black” (1972) and appeared as Martha Jefferson in the film version of “1776” (1972), opposite William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Donald Madden and John Cullum.

In 1973, Danner landed her first series regular role on the ABC sitcom “Adam's Rib,” where she portrayed  Adam's wife, Amanda. The show ran for a season from September 14, 1973 to December 28, 1973. In the following year, she played Zelda Fitzgerald in the TV film “F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles'” (ABC), Prudy Jenkins in an unsold TV series pilot, “Sidekicks,” and Molly Taylor,  a woman who comes between two friends, in the underrated film adaptation “Lovin' Molly.” Also in 1974, she started her long running partnership with the Williamstown Theatre Festival in a production of Anton Chekhov's “The Seagull,” which was filmed and aired on public television.

Danner had the female lead in “Hearts of the West” (1975), opposite Jeff Bridges, played Tracy Ballard in the science fiction film “Futureworld” (1976), where she was handed a Golden Scroll for Best Actress for her performance, and offered a strong turn as the dedicated wife of a military officer in the Academy Award nominee “The Great Santini” (1979), directed by Lewis John Carlino. On the small screen, she made a guest appearance in “M*A*S*H” (1976) and acted in the TV films “The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer” (1977, as Elizabeth Custer), “A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story” (1978), in which she received critical praise for her portrayal of Eleanor Gehrig, “Are You in the House Alone?” (1978), “Too Far to Go” (1979, as Michael Moriarty's WASPish wife ) and “You Can't Take It with You” (1979).

Danner revisited the Broadway when she was cast alongside Raul Julia and Roy Scheider in Harold Pinter's “Betrayal,” which ran for 170 performances from January 5, 1980 to May 31, 1980. Playing Emma, she was nominated for a Tony award in the category of Best Actress (Play) for her performance. After the show closed, she starred in the Lincoln Center revival of “The Philadelphia Story” (November 14, 1980 - January 4, 1981). In 1982, Danner portrayed  the wife of German architect Albert Speer in the TV miniseries “Inside the Third Reich” ( ABC). She co-starred with Martin Sheen and Craig T. Nelson in the drama film “Man, Woman and Child” (1983) and with Sam Waterstone in “In Defense of Kids” (1983, TV), as well as played Anne Sullivan in “Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues” (1984, TV) and Louise Jamison in “Guilty Conscience” (1985, TV), opposite Anthony Hopkins. She was cast as the matriarch of a Jewish family in the film version of Neil Simon's “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (1986), appeared in Woody Allen's “Another Woman” (1988) and co-stared in the TV film “Money, Power, Murder.” (1989), opposite Kevin Dobson and Josef Sommer.
In 1987, Danner starred as Elvira, opposite Richard Chamberlain as Charles and Judith Ivey as Ruth, in a revival of Noel Coward's “Blithe Spirit.” She went on to receive her next Tony nomination for her performance as Blanche Du Bois in a revival of Tennessee Williams's “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1988), opposite Aidan Quinn and Frances McDormand.  

After 15 years, Danner returned to series television as a regular on the doomed NBC comedy/drama “Tattingers,” which was produced by husband Bruce Paltrow.  Aired as part of the network's 1988 lineup, the show was a rating failure and was canceled in January 1989. The program was revamped into a half hour sitcom called “Nick & Hillary,” which premiered on April 20, 1989. However, the show was canceled again after only two aired.     

1990 saw Danner portray the mother of a child molested by a priest in the HBO drama “Judgment,” for which she was nominated for a CableACE Award for Actress in a Movie or Miniseries, work with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the Merchant Ivory film “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge” and reunite with Woody Allen for “Alice.” In the following year, she played the wife of Nick Nolte in “The Prince of Tides,” co-starred with Leonard Nimoy and Dabney Coleman in the TNT original film “Never Forget” and appeared on stage alongside daughter Gwyneth Paltrow in the Williamstown production of “Picnic.” The mother and daughter would reunite later in the Williamstown production of “The  Seagull” (1994) as well as in the TV miniseries “Cruel Doubt” (1992). Danner went on to act in such films as “Getting Up and Going Home” (1992, TV), Woody Allen's “Husbands and Wives” (1992, as Juliette Lewis' mother), “Tracey Takes on New York” (1993, TV), “ Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” (1994, TV), “Leave of Absence” (1994, TV), “Homage” (1995), “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” (1995), “ A Call to Remember” (1997, TV), where she received a CableACE nomination for Actress in a Movie or Miniseries for playing Paula Tobias,“The Myth of Fingerprints” (1997, played the matriarch of a annoyed family), “Mad City” (1997), “The Farmhouse” (1998), “No Looking Back” (1998), “The Proposition” (1998), “The X Files” (1998, as Jana Cassidy), “Saint Maybe” (1998, TV), “Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery” (1998, TV), “The Invisible Circus” (1999, played the mother of Cameron Diaz and Jordana Brewster), “ Forces of Nature” (1999), “The Love Letter” (1999, played the mother of Kate Capshaw) and “Things I Forgot to Remember” (1999). In addition, she provided the voice of Martha Jefferson in Ken Burns' PBS documentary, “Thomas Jefferson” (1997) and hosted PBS' “Sophisticated Ladies: Charleston and Savannah With Blythe Danner” (1998). On stage, she appeared in the Broadway production of “The Deep Blue Sea” (1998) as well as in off Broadway shows like “Sylvia” (1995), “Moonlight” (1995-1996) and “Ancestral Voices” (1999).  

Entering the new millennium, Danner was cast as  Robert De Niro's WASPish wife in the hit comedy film “Meet the Parents” (2000), from which she received a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination for Favorite Supporting Actress – Comedy, and gained acclaim on stage for her Tony nominating turn as Phyllis in the all-star Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim & James Goldman's “Follies” (2001). In 2001, she began her recurring role as Will's mother, Marilyn Truman, on the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” and later was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2006.

Danner starred as Corinne Mulvaney in the Lifetime drama “We Were the Mulvaneys” (2002),  a role that brought her first Emmy nomination. Later that same year, she was cast as  Dr. Harriet Lanning on the short lived CBS hospital drama “Presidio Med.” In the next year, Danner reunited with her daughter for the film “Sylvia” and starred in Keith Gaby's “The Quality of Light,” opposite Frederic Forrest and Kristen Gerhard.

In 2004, Danner reprised her role as Dina Byrnes in the successful sequel “Meet the Fockers” and offered a remarkable turn as Rebecca Holmes Davitch, a fifty something single mother and grandmother with a colorful family, in  the CBS drama “Back When We Were Grownups,”  for which she received both an Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Also in 2004, Danner landed the regular role of Isabelle 'Izzy' Huffstodt, Huff's tough and manipulative mother, on the comedy/drama series “Huff” (Showtime, 2004-6), starring Hank Azaria as the titular role. For her bright acting, Danner took home two Emmys in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.         

In 2006, Danner had a supporting role as Anna in the Tony Goldwyn directed  and Paul Haggis scripted “The Last Kiss,” where she nabbed a Satellite nomination for her performance. Two years later, she appeared in the films “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” and “'Side by Each'” and in the TV film “Pretty/Handsome.”  She made a guest appearance in “Medium” and  “Nurse Jackie” and played Mrs. Bascom in the film “The Lightkeepers” (all 2009). She next acted in the films “Waiting for Forever” (2010), “ Little Fockers” (2010, reprised  the role of Dina Byrnes), “Paul” (2011), “Detachment” (2011) and “What's Your Number?” (2011, with Anna Faris). In 2011, she played Dr. Angie Chafin in two episodes of “Up All Night.”

Recently, Danner played Ruth Minsky in the comedy/drama film “Hello I Must Be Going,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2012. She was cast alongside Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in the film adaptation of Nicholas Spark's novel, “The Lucky One,” which is set to be released in the US on April 20, 2012. She also will play Caroline Lily in the upcoming TV film “Gilded Lilys” (2012).   


Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, “Huff,” 2006
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, “Huff,” 2005
Sonoma Valley Film Festival: Special Award, Special career-achievement honor, 2004
Women in Film Lucy: Lucy Award, 2004
Environmental Media: Award for Ongoing Commitment, 2002
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Golden Scroll, Best Actress, “Futureworld,” 1977 Show Less
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