Feb. 13th, 1944
New York City, New York, USA
Stockard Channing's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Susan Stockard was to an Irish-Catholic family in New York City, New York. She grew up in Brooklyn and attended the prolific Chapin School in NYC, then later attended the Madeira School, a Virginia boarding school for girls. She studied at Radcliffe College where she majored in both literature and history before graduating summa cum laude in 1965. In 1964, at the age of 20, she married the first of four husbands, Walter Channing Jr., a businessman whose last name she kept as part of her own stage moniker after their divorce four years later.
Stockard made her stage debut in a production of "The Investigation" at the experimental Theatre Company of Boston in 1966. She went on to play a number of offbeat roles with the company. She eventually migrated to New York where she took her first Broadway bow as a chorus member and understudy in the musical version of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" in 1971. Two years later she would take over the prime role of Julia in the L.A. national company. Other theater roles during this time included "Adaptation/Next" (1970) "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1970), "Play Strindberg" (1971) and "No Hard Feelings" (1973).
Somewhat plaintive yet unique-looking, the dark-haired actress began first appearing in pictures with small parts in the dark comedy The Hospital (1971) and the edgy 'Barbra Streisand' fantasy-drama Up the Sandbox (1972). Taking on the top female lead as an heiress and potential victim of shysters Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty in Mike Nichols' comedy The Fortune (1975), the film, despite its male star power, would not become the star-making hit for Channing as initially hoped and Channing. Her next two films (The Big Bus (1976) and Sweet Revenge (1976)) faded away even quicker. Earlier, however, she hit a home with the TV-movie The Girl Most Likely to... (1973) (TV), a clever black comedy written by Joan Rivers wherein Stockard played a former ugly duckling-turned-beauty (à la plastic surgery) who knocks off the men who formerly mistreated her. This was Channing at her smart and cynical best, traits that would carry her far in Hollywood.
At the age of 33(!), she was handed the feisty role of high school teen Betty Rizzo in the box-office film version of the hit musical Grease (1978) starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. While long in the tooth for such a role (as were others), Stockard's sly performance earned her the People's Choice Awards for Favorite Motion Picture Supporting Actress. This popular film clinched her place as a top-ranking contender.
As a result, she was handed two sitcom vehicles within a year on CBS: "Stockard Channing in Just Friends" (1979), as a newly-separated wife starting life anew in another city (L.A.), and "The Stockard Channing Show" (1980), which again cast her as a divorced lady trying to find herself again in L.A. Neither made her a TV star. Both failed to catch on and lasted but a few months. Stalled at a critical juncture in her career, Stockard decided to return to her first love -- the theater. With "Vanities", "Absurd Person Singular" and "As You Like It" (as Rosalind) already on her resume, she earned fine notices on Broadway with the musical "They're Playing Our Song" replacing Lucie Arnaz in 1980, then garnered rave reviews in the part of the mother of a developmentally disabled child in the New Haven production of Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" in 1982. She repeated her role on Broadway a few years later (the title now shortened to "Joe Egg") and copped the 1985 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Subsequent Tony nominations came her way for her offbeat work in "The House of Blue Leaves" (1986); "Six Degrees of Separation" (1991) (for which she also won an Off-Broadway Obie), "Four Baboons Adoring the Sun" (1992); and for her Eleanor of Aquitaine in "The Lion in Winter" in 1999.
Nominated for an Emmy for the CBS miniseries Echoes in the Darkness (1987), she also won a CableACE Award for her work in Tidy Endings (1988). In film, she received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations when her stage triumph, Six Degrees of Separation (1993), was turned into a film and also received the London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in the film _Business of Strangers, The (2001).
In 1999, Stockard became a recurring member of the cast of "The West Wing" (1999) as First Lady Abigail Bartlet. Audiences were so drawn to her shrewd, classy character that producers wisely started featuring her regularly into the third season. In 2002 she won both Emmy and SAG awards for this role, as well as a second Emmy that same year for her supporting turn as Judy Sheppard in The Matthew Shepard Story (2002), a docudrama about the gay-bashing murder of young Matthew Shepard.
- Auditioned for the role of Lois Lane in _Superman (1978)_ (qv), but lost to 'Margot Kidder' (qv).
- Graduated from Harvard University (specifically, its then female-only Radcliffe College), with a BA in history and literature.
- Graduated high school from The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia
- She was thirty-four years old when she played the high-school aged Rizzo in _Grease (1978)_ (qv).
- Provides the voice over for the film about the history of Pearl Harbor shown at the USS Arizona Memorial for the National Park Service.
- Won a Tony in 1985 for "A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg".
- Born on the same day as talk show host 'Jerry Springer' (qv).
- In December of 2004, she was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence.