Christine Baranski

Christine Baranski

Baranski at the 2012 Romy TV Awards
Born Christine Jane Baranski
(1952-05-02) May 2, 1952
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Education Bachelor of Arts
Alma mater Juilliard School, Lincoln Center
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Matthew Cowles (1983–2014; his death)
Children 2

Christine Jane Baranski (born May 2, 1952) is an American stage and screen actress. She won Tony Awards for her work in the original Broadway productions of The Real Thing in 1984 and Rumors in 1989, both for Best Featured Actress in a Play. She went on to win the 1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Maryanne Thorpe in the sitcom Cybill (1995–98).

Baranski's other Broadway credits include her debut in Hide and Seek (1980), Hurlyburly (1984), The House of Blue Leaves (1986) and Boeing Boeing (2008). A 15-time Emmy Award nominee, her other television work includes her portrayals of Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife, and Dr. Beverly Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory. Her film roles include 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), Legal Eagles (1986), Reversal of Fortune (1990), Addams Family Values (1993), Jeffrey (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Bulworth (1998), Cruel Intentions (1999), Bowfinger (1999), Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Chicago (2002), Mamma Mia! (2008), and Into the Woods (2014).

Early life and education

Baranski was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Virginia (née Mazurowski) and Lucien Baranski, who edited a Polish-language newspaper.[1][2] She is of Polish descent and her grandparents were actors in the Polish theater.[3][4] Baranski attended high school at the Villa Maria Academy in Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo.[5][6] She then studied at New York City's Juilliard School[7] (Drama Division Group 3: 1970–1974)[8] where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974.[9]



Baranski at the Metropolitan Opera 2010 opening night of Das Rheingold.

Baranski made her Off-Broadway debut in Coming Attractions at Playwrights Horizons in 1980, and has appeared in several Off Broadway productions at the Manhattan Theatre Club, starting with Sally and Marsha in 1982.

Baranski made her Broadway debut in Hide & Seek in 1980. For her next Broadway performance, in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, she won the 1984 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play. Other Broadway credits include: Hurlyburly, The House of Blue Leaves, Rumors (for which she won her second Tony), Regrets Only, Nick & Nora, and the Encores! concert staging of Follies.

At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Baranski starred as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd in 2002[10] (for which she won the 2003 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical) and as the title character in Mame in 2006.[6]

In her first Broadway production since 1991, she was featured as the maid Berthe in the 2008 revival of Boeing Boeing.[11] The show garnered two Tony Awards, one for Best Revival of a Play and the other for Best Actor (Mark Rylance). The original cast was Bradley Whitford (Bernard), Kathryn Hahn (Gloria), Christine Baranski (Berthe), Gina Gershon (Gabriella), and Mary McCormack (Gretchen). The show closed on January 4, 2009.

She also appeared in a one night only concert benefit performance of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music for Roundabout Theatre Company as Countess Charlotte Malcolm on January 12, 2009.[12] The cast included Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Victor Garber, and Marc Kudisch, among others.

She has won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards twice.


Baranski has also starred in various roles in films and television. In film, some of her better known roles are as Katherine Archer in The Birdcage, Mary Sunshine in the musical Chicago, Martha May Whovier in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Connie Chasseur in The Ref and as Tanya Chisham-Leigh in the hit musical Mamma Mia! She also played Cinderella's stepmother in the film adaptation of the musical, Into the Woods.[13]

Television work

Baranski at the 2015 PaleyFest presentation for The Good Wife

Though widely reported to have worked as a child actress under the name "Chris Charney," Baranski denies ever having appeared on The Brady Bunch,[14] adamant that "the first real TV show" that she worked on was Cybill. Earlier, she had appeared in short-term roles on various daytime soap operas, including All My Children and Another World.

Baranski was featured as Cybill Shepherd's sarcastic, hard-drinking friend Maryanne Thorpe in the CBS sitcom Cybill, which ran from 1995 until 1998, during which time she hosted Saturday Night Live and won an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series along with three other nominations. During this, Baranski portrayed a librarian named Sonja Umdahl in the "Dick and the Single Girl" episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. [15] A few years later, Baranski received an Emmy nomination for a guest starring role as an intimidating radio psychiatrist on an episode of the NBC series Frasier. She had an uncredited role in the series Now and Again as the voice of Roger's overbearing wife Ruth, who was never seen by viewers.

Baranski later appeared in the 2000–2001 sitcom Welcome to New York and, with John Laroquette, in the 2003–2004 NBC sitcom Happy Family. She co-starred with Bernadette Peters in a pilot for an ABC sitcom, Adopted, in 2005, which was not picked up. She also played Faith Clancy, the mother of Jim Clancy in Ghost Whisperer. Around the same time, Baranski began guest starring in The Big Bang Theory as Dr. Beverly Hofstadter, an unemotional expert in psychiatry and neuroscience, and mother of one of the protagonists, Leonard Hofstadter. She first appeared in the second season episode "The Maternal Capacitance", for which she received an Emmy nomination. Due to the popularity of her first appearance, Baranski returned in the third season for the Christmas episode "The Maternal Congruence", receiving another Emmy nomination. As of May 2016, she has appeared in seven more episodes.

From 2009 to 2016, she played the role of Diane Lockhart, a top litigator and senior partner of a Chicago law firm on The Good Wife. She has been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for each season of the series, in the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Besides her work on The Good Wife and the aforementioned guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory, other recent appearances include Ugly Betty in 2009 as Victoria Hartley, the haughty mother of Betty's new boyfriend.

Personal life

Baranski was married to actor Matthew Cowles from October, 1983 until his death on May 22, 2014.[2][16] They have two daughters, Isabel (born 1984) and Lily (born 1987).[17] One of her daughters is a practicing attorney, attended law school, passed the New York bar exam, and was working for the Brooklyn district attorney during the run of The Good Wife.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Soup for One Blonde in Bar
1983 Lovesick Nymphomaniac
1984 Crackers Maxine
1986 9½ Weeks Thea
1986 Legal Eagles Carol Freeman
1987 Pick-up Artist, TheThe Pick-up Artist Harriet
1990 Reversal of Fortune Andrea Reynolds, Claus' Girlfriend
1993 Night We Never Met, TheThe Night We Never Met Lucy
1993 Life with Mikey Carol
1993 Addams Family Values Becky Martin-Granger
1994 Ref, TheThe Ref Connie Chasseur
1994 Getting In Mrs. Margaret "Maggie" Higgs
1994 War, TheThe War Miss Strapford
1995 New Jersey Drive Prosecutor
1995 Jeffrey Ann Marwood Bartle
1996 Birdcage, TheThe Birdcage Katherine Archer
1998 Odd Couple II, TheThe Odd Couple II Thelma
1998 Bulworth Constance Bulworth
1999 Cruel Intentions Bunny Caldwell
1999 Bowfinger Carol
2000 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Martha May Whovier
2002 The Guru Shantal
2002 Chicago Mary Sunshine
2003 Marci X Mary Ellen Spinkle
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Charlotte Cole
2005 Scooby Doo! in Where's My Mummy? Amelia Von Butch Voice
2006 Falling for Grace Bree
2006 Relative Strangers Arleen Clayton
2006 Bonneville Francine
2008 Mamma Mia! Tanya Chisham-Leigh
2010 Bounty Hunter, TheThe Bounty Hunter Kitty Hurley
2012 Foodfight! Hedda Shopper Voice
2014 Into The Woods[13] Cinderella's Stepmother
2016 Trolls Chef Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Busting Loose Debbie Episode: "The Decision: Part 1"
1980 Playing for Time Olga TV movie
1982 Midsummer Night's Dream, AA Midsummer Night's Dream Helena TV movie
1982 Another World Beverly Tucker Unknown episodes
1984 All My Children Jewel Maniscalo Unknown episodes
1985 Big Shots in America TV movie
1985 Equalizer, TheThe Equalizer Victoria Baines Episode: "Mama's Boy"
1987 House of Blue Leaves, TheThe House of Blue Leaves Bunny Flingus TV movie
1988 The Thorns Polly Episode: "The Maid"
1991 Law & Order Katherine Masucci Beigel Episodes: "The Torrents of Greed Parts 1 & 2"
1992 Screenplay Blair Bennett Episode: "Buying a Landslide"
1993 To Dance with the White Dog Kate TV movie
1994 Law & Order Rose Siegal Episode: "Nurture"
1995–98 Cybill Maryanne Thorpe 87 episodes
1996 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Christine Baranski/The Cure"
1997 3rd Rock from the Sun Sonja Umdahl Episode: "Dick and the Single Girl"
1999 Now and Again Ruth Bender Episode: "Origins"; voice; uncredited
1999 Frasier Dr. Nora Fairchild Series 6 episode 20: "Dr. Nora"
2000–01 Welcome to New York Marsha Bickner 13 episodes
2001 Citizen Baines Glenn Ferguson Baines Welch Episode: "Three Days in November"
2002 Speed Racer X Trixie Fontaine Voice
2002 Presidio Med Dr. Terry Howland Episodes: "Pick Your Battles", "Best of Enemies"
2003 Eloise at the Plaza Prunella Stickler TV movie
2003 Eloise at Christmastime Prunella Stickler TV movie
2003–04 Happy Family Annie Brennan 22 episodes
2004 Spellbound TV
2005 Recipe for a Perfect Christmas Lee Bellmont TV movie
2005 Adopted Judy Rabinowitz TV movie
2005 In the Game TV pilot
2005 Ghost Whisperer Faith Clancy TV series, episodes: "Voices", "The Crossing"
2006 Inseparable Barbara TV movie
2006 American Dad! Homeless Woman TV series, episode: "Failure Is Not a Factory-installed Option" (voice)
2009 Ugly Betty Victoria Hartley TV series, 4 episodes
2009 Psych Alice Clayton TV series, episode: "He Dead"
2009–present Big Bang Theory, TheThe Big Bang Theory Dr. Beverly Hofstadter 9 episodes: "The Maternal Capacitance", "The Maternal Congruence", "The Skank Reflex Analysis", "The Raiders Minimization", "The Status Quo Combustion", "The Maternal Combustion", "The Celebration Experimentation", "The Line Substitution Solution", "The Convergence Convergence"
2009–16 Good Wife, TheThe Good Wife Diane Lockhart 156 episodes[19]
2011 Who Is Simon Miller? Amanda TV movie
2011 Ugly Americans Grimes' mummy Season 2, episode 10: "Mummy Dearest"; voice
2015 BoJack Horseman Amanda Hannity Season 2, episode 7: "Hank After Dark"; voice
2017 The Good Fight Diane Lockhart

Video games

Year Project Role Notes
2013 Skylanders: Swap Force Kaos' Mother[20]

Awards and nominations


  1. "Christine Baranski – Family and Companions – Yahoo!7 Movies"
  2. 1 2 "Christine Baranski Biography (1952–)", accessed April 29, 2011
  3. "Western New York Public Broadcasting Association"
  4. Triplett, William (May 12, 2002). "For Baranski, A Most Meaty Opportunity; In 'Sweeney Todd,' Actress Sinks Her Teeth Into a Singing Role". The Washington Post. HighBeam Research.
  5. Rousuck, J. Wynn (May 21, 2006). "The lady has it: Christine Baranski stars in 'Mame' for the 2nd time". The Baltimore Sun.
  6. 1 2 Gans, Andrew (June 16, 2006). "DIVA TALK: Chatting with Mame's Christine Baranski".
  7. Shulman, Randy (June 8, 2006). "Christine Baranski: TV and stage actress talks about starring in 'Mame' and 'Cybill'".
  8. "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2009. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  9. "Christine Baranski". All Movie Guide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  10. Brantley, Ben. "Adding Love To the Pies' Time-Tested Recipe", New York Times, May 15, 2002
  11. Simonson, Robert. "PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Christine Baranski",, May 7, 2008
  12. Gans, Andrew. "Starry A Little Night Music Concert Presented in Manhattan Jan. 12",, January 12, 2009
  13. 1 2 WORLD EXCLUSIVE! New Confirmed Casting For the INTO THE WOODS Movie, Starring Streep & Depp Broadway World, Retrieved July 27, 2013
  14. Christine Baranski: Wasn't Me on 'The Brady Bunch'!
  15. "3rd Rock from the Sun"; Dick and the Single Girl (1997) — Internet Movie Database
  16. Simonson, Robert. "Matthew Cowles, Actor and Husband of Christine Baranski, Dies", May 27, 2014
  17. Klein, Alvin (January 25, 1998). "THEATER; Being Irish And Being Married". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  18. Colbert, Stephen (host) (28 April 2016). "Christine Baranski". The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Season 1. Episode 131. CBS.
  19. "Filmography by TV series for Christine Baranski". Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  20. Skylanders Swap Force E3 2013 – Epic Interview Pt 2 (Kaos's Mom, TarClops) on YouTube
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