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Dana Delany (1956)

Dana Welles Delany

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  Summary  

Dana Welles Delany is an American film, stage, and television actress, producer, host and health activist.

After various roles in the early career, Delany garnered her first leading role in 1987 in the short-lived NBC sitcom Sweet Surrender and achieved wider fame in 1988–1991 as Colleen McMurphy on the ABC television show China Beach, for which she won two Emmy Awards. She received further recognition for her performances in the films Light Sleeper , Tombstone , Exit to Eden , The Margaret Sanger Story , Fly Away Home , True Women and Wide Awake . Since the mid-1990s, Delany has served on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation.

In 2000s she returned to television with a string of short-lived television series beginning with Pasadena , Presidio Med (2002–2003), and Kidnapped (2006-2007). From 2007 to 2010 Delany played Katherine Mayfair on the ABC series Desperate Housewives. she is in the lead role as Megan Hunt on the ABC drama series Body of Proof.

Delany is also a voice-actress. She played Lois Lane in the DC Animated Universe as well as the television series The Batman. In an interview, she said she loves to play "complicated characters". Delany has been active in film, television, and stage since the late 1970s.

  Biography  

 early life
Delany was born in New York City to parents of Irish descent and was raised Catholic. She has remarked that, even as a child, she always wanted to go into acting. "The reason a person first gets into acting is because you want attention from your parents as a child," she told a reporter. In her childhood, she went with her family to many Broadway shows, and was fascinated by films.

After growing up in Stamford, Connecticut, she attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts for her senior year, and was a member of the school's first co-educational class that included jazz composer Bill Cunliffe, software executive Peter Currie, artist Julian Hatton, poet Karl Kirchwey, writer Nate Lee, editor Sara Nelson restaurateur Priscilla Martel and sculptor Gar Waterman. "Andover was the best time of my life," she recalled. She played the lead role of Nellie Forbush in the school's spring musical production of South Pacific playing opposite Peter Kapetan as Emile. She commented: "It was just a little awkward to be Nellie at first because she hesitates to marry Emile since he had once lived with a Polynesian woman -- I don't agree with her reasoning so that made things a bit hard at the beginning." She appeared in a student video directed by fellow classmate Jonathan Meath in a film class taught by Steve Marx. She graduated in 1974 with the academic honor of "cum laude" which was awarded to 80 out of 378 graduating seniors. She majored in theater at Wesleyan University, worked in summer stock productions during vacations, and graduated in 1978. Later, in an interview, she reported that she sometimes had eating issues during this time of her life. She said: "I binged... I starved ... I was one step from anorexia –a piece of toast and an apple would be all I would eat in a day."

 career
 1980s: Stage, television, China Beach

After college, she found acting work in New York City in daytime soap operas. She starred in the Broadway show A Life and won critical acclaim in 1983 in Nicholas Kazan's off-Broadway Blood Moon, where the New York Times cited her "skillful verisimilitude" handling a difficult part requiring two roles "and she does them both with authority." Delany moved to Hollywood and during the next few years found work guest starring in TV shows like Moonlighting and Magnum, P.I..

Dana Delany's first audition for the lead role of nurse Colleen McMurphy was unsuccessful. "They thought I wasn't pretty enough", she said in an interview, but heeding advice from director Paul Schrader, who had directed her in the film Patty Hearst, she "cut her long tresses into a bob" and re-auditioned with this new haircut, successfully, after the producers lost their first choice. She won the lead role on the critically acclaimed China Beach, which appeared weekly from 1988 to 1991 and brought intense media attention to the actress. This role not only garnered two Emmy Award, but two other Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations. After several seasons the show suffered from mediocre ratings and was discontinued in 1991.

 1990s: Movies, television, voice
In 1991, Dana Delany was chosen by People magazine as one of the "50 most beautiful people in the world." In the years following China Beach, Delany worked steadily in television, movies and theater. In addition, she established herself as a significant voice talent.

Delany won leading roles in a string of feature films such as the TV movie A Promise to Keep, Light Sleeper, Housesitter and Fly Away Home as well as appearing in the TV mini-series Wild Palms. She also took on controversial roles, such as Mistress Lisa in Exit to Eden, where one film critic commented "The script was awful -- Dana looked great." Delany commented in a 2008 interview about the audience reaction: "I had already got pilloried for playing the Exit to Eden dominatrix after China Beach because audiences had a certain image of me as Colleen and didn’t want to see it change." The provocatively titled Live Nude Girls included frank discussion by women of their sexual fantasies at a bachelorette party using a low-budget improvisational comedy format with strong chemistry between the actors. Reviews were mixed: Los Angeles Times critic Richard Natale liked the film but wrote older male film executives believed it to be "uncommercial"; another critic agreed it was "genuine girl talk" but "didn't have a lot of substance" and viewers "don't get to know the characters in the film". She also starred as Margaret Sanger in the TV movie Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story , about a controversial nurse who crusaded for women's reproductive rights in the early 1900s.

In 1995, Delany appeared in the Broadway show Translations and in May 1997, Delany returned to her alma mater Phillips Academy to work with theater students as an artist-in-residence. She appeared in TV movies such as True Women and Resurrection .

In 1998, Delany reportedly turned down the role of Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV show Sex and the City. She commented in a subsequent interview: "The show’s creator Darren Star asked me to play Carrie ... Darren got the idea of televising Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City from seeing me and Kim in Live Nude Girls." Delany declined the role partly after remembering the negative audience reaction she received with a similar film, Exit to Eden, a few years back. Sex and the City became a successful series, and the role of Carrie made Sarah Jessica Parker world-famous.

Delany played a gun-toting mother in an episode of the TV series Family Law for which she earned an Emmy nomination, but the series was not rerun due to sponsorship withdrawal.

Work as Lois Lane
Dana Delany has performed substantial voice work periodically. She portrayed Andrea Beaumont in the 1993 animated feature film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm based on the popular TV show Batman: The Animated Series. Delany's voice performance in the film impressed filmmakers and led to her being cast as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series. She was also mentioned by name in the theme song of Animaniacs, another Warner Bros. production. She reprised her role as Lois Lane for the character's guest appearances in Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and The Batman. She returned to the DC Universe in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold as Vilsi, an alternate universe variation of Lois Lane. Coincidentally, Delany's future Desperate Housewives co-star, Teri Hatcher, also portrayed Lois Lane on the live-action TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

 2000s: Television, movies, stage, Desperate Housewives

Delany continued to find work in a variety of projects, doing pilots, TV series, made-for-TV movies, and feature films. She appeared in the NBC drama Good Guys/Bad Guys , which Newsweek termed a "Sopranos knock-off". She appeared in the short-lived Pasadena , a critically acclaimed Fox production which was "underpromoted and endlessly pre-empted" and described as a "twisted rich-family saga" with a "great cast". Delany commented in an interview: "You can see Pasadena as a black comedy or see it as really tragic. A lot of soaps on television now don't have that layer of tragedy to them." She was an actor and co-executive producer of the film Final Jeopardy . New York Daily News TV critic David Bianculli gave a positive review to both her performance as an actor -- "Delany, as always, does pensive and independent better than most actresses" -- and as a producer. She played a doctor in the TV series Presidio Med , described as a "conventional but pleasant drama populated by characters dedicated to medicine who also have messy personal lives." She appeared in TV movies such as A Time to Remember , and Baby for Sale . She appeared in feature films by indie film producers, such as The Outfitters , Mother Ghost , and Spin .

Returning to theater, she played an artsy and incompetent woman who questions the "imposed conventions of society" after discovering her husband's affair in the Pulitzer-prize winning Dinner With Friends ; her performance earned positive reviews generally. She played Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing ; one critic described the "verbal sparring" between Delany and actor Billy Campbell as a "joy".

From 2004 to 2006, Delany played many guest roles on TV shows, such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Boston Legal, Kojak, Related, The L Word, and Battlestar Galactica. She also starred in the short-lived TV series Kidnapped . One critic wrote "Delany is alternately furious and despondent as Ellie, and she and Hutton can do more without words than other actors can do with pages of dialogue. They’re absolutely convincing as rich, complicated Manhattanites and as parents who come face to face with the scary reality that they can’t always protect their kids."

Delany appeared as herself in the TV documentary Vietnam Nurses with Dana Delany which explored their lives and treatment after returning to the United States. Delany has become "something of a heroine to the nurses who served in Vietnam", according to Los Angeles Times writer Susan King, who noted that the actress worked on a nationwide nurse recruitment program in 1990 called the McMurphy project.

In 2007, Delany appeared in the films A Beautiful Life, Camp Hope, and Multiple Sarcasms.

Delany initially declined the offer to play one of the four Desperate Housewives principal characters, Bree Van De Kamp, saying it was too similar to her role on Pasadena. The show became a popular prime-time soap opera with substantial ratings. But in 2007 she was again offered a role by producer Marc Cherry, this time as a supporting housewife, and she joined the cast of the well-established series for the 2007–08 season. Reaction to the addition of Delany was positive; one critic wrote "...casting Dana Delany as Katherine Mayfair in Season 4 is one of the smartest things Cherry has ever done ... Not many actors can deftly deliver both comedy and drama, but Delany makes it look easy." She commented about playing housewife Katherine Mayfair: "The hardest thing for me was figuring out the tone of the piece because it's such a specific tone - so it was more of an acting challenge than anything else." She commented in 2008: “I hope that she doesn’t lose her snarkiness, because that’s always fun to play.” On May 13, 2008, it was announced that Delany would reprise her role on Desperate Housewives for season five, having been promoted to the sixth lead.

 2010s: New series and movies
In March 2010, Delany appeared as FBI agent Jordan Shaw in a two-part story on the TV series Castle, which stars Nathan Fillion, who played her character's second husband on Desperate Housewives.

Delany left Desperate Housewives to star in the new ABC series Body of Proof originally slated to begin airing in late 2010.Delany also voiced a character Margaret Rosenblatt in the film Firebreather in 2010

In 2011 in Body of Proof, Delany plays a brilliant neurosurgeon turned medical examiner after a car accident causes her to lose dexterity in her hands. Ironically, Delany in real life had an experience similar to her character of Dr. Megan Hunt. Two weeks before filming the pilot episode, Delany's car was hit by a bus in Santa Monica; two fingers of her hand were broken and her car was totaled. Delany describes her character in Body of Proof as being "complicated, smart, and definitely complex."

In April 2011 Delany came 9th in People magazine's annual 100 Most Beautiful list.

In May 2011 Delany was the host the fourth annual Television Academy Honors.

Delany is currently filming the crime drama Freelancers with director Jessy Terrero. The film also stars Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker, and 50 Cent, and is set for a 2012 release.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Dana Delany", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.