MARE WINNINGHAM Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Mary Megan Winningham                                                             
Born: 16 May 1959 Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.                                                 
Mary Megan Winningham (b. May 16, 1959) is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy             
Award-nominated American actress and singer.                                             
Winningham was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Northridge, California,           
with three brothers and one sister. Her father was the chairman of the                   
Department of Physical Education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN)       
and her mother was an English teacher and college counselor at a local high             
school. She credits her first interest in acting to seeing an interview with Kym         
Karath (who played "Gretl" in The Sound of Music) on Art Linkletter's television         
show House Party when she was five or six years old.                                     
Winningham attended local primary schools, where her favorite activities                 
included drama and playing the guitar. She took the extended drama option in             
junior high school and continued to study over her summer vacations at CSUN's           
Teenage Drama Workshop. It was at this time that she adopted the nickname "Mare".       
Her mother arranged for her to go to a high school with a renowned drama                 
department. In Grade 12 Winningham starred in a production of The Sound of Music,       
playing the part of Maria, opposite classmate Kevin Spacey as Captain Von Trapp.         
Winningham began her career as a singer-songwriter. In 1976, she got her break           
singing the Beatles song "Here, There, and Everywhere" on "The Gong Show."               
Though Winningham received no record contracts as result of the appearance, she         
was signed to an acting contract by Hollywood agent Meyer Mishkin, and received         
her Screen Actor's Guild card for doing three lines in an episode of James at 15.       
That year she was offered a role on Young Pioneers and Young Pioneers Christmas,         
pilots for the short-lived 1978 drama The Young Pioneers. Though the series             
ended with just three episodes being broadcast, a number of television projects         
followed, including parts on Police Woman in 1978 and Starsky and Hutch in 1979.         
Later that same year, she played the role of teenage outcast Jenny Flowers in           
the made-for-TV movie of the week called, The Death of Ocean View Park.                 
In 1980, Winningham starred in "Off the Minnesota Strip" playing a young                 
prostitute. She then won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress In A                 
Miniseries Or A Movie for her role in the critically acclaimed Amber Waves, a TV         
movie about a rough farmer (Dennis Weaver) who finds he is dying of cancer. In           
that year she also broke into film in One Trick Pony, starring Paul Simon. In           
1983, Winningham was nominated for a Canadian Genie Award for her work in the           
futuristic 1981 drama Threshold, and appeared in the 1983 epic miniseries The           
Thorn Birds. In 1984 she starred as Helen Keller in Helen Keller: The Miracle           
Winningham achieved greater fame in 1985's St. Elmo's Fire as one of the                 
original "brat pack" alumni. Despite the film's success, she refused to cash in         
on her teen idol status, and returned to television in the Hallmark Hall of Fame         
movie, Love Is Never Silent, for which she received an Emmy nomination.                 
Winningham finished the 80s with two Hollywood films, the nuclear disaster drama         
Miracle Mile (1988), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award                 
nomination in 1989, and the Tom Hanks vehicle Turner & Hooch in 1989. In 1988           
Winningham also starred in the Los Angeles stage production of Hurlyburly with           
Sean Penn and Danny Aiello.                                                             
In the early 90s, she returned to film for 1994's all-star Wyatt Earp and the           
family drama The War, both starring Kevin Costner.                                       
1995 brought Georgia, a thoughtful character study of two sisters (Winningham           
and Jennifer Jason Leigh), which earned Winningham Golden Globe, Screen Actors           
Guild, and Academy Award nominations. Two years later, she starred opposite Gary         
Sinise in George Wallace, for which she garnered another Golden Globe Award             
nomination, and won an Emmy Award.                                                       
Since then she made acclaimed appearances on the series ER and Law & Order:             
Special Victims Unit, as well as appearances in the 2001 television project             
Sally Hemmings, opposite Sam Neill and the short-lived David E. Kelley series           
The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire. Winningham's most recent project is           
the independent film Dandelion, which was a staple of film festivals worldwide           
between 2003 and 2004 and is set for a limited American release in October of           
Winningham has also recorded three albums, What Might Be (1992) on the Bay               
Cities label, and Lonesomers (1998), on the Razor and Tie label, and Refuge Rock         
Sublime (2007) on the Craig & Co. label. The songs on Refuge Rock Sublime deal           
mostly with her recent conversion to Judaism. She also sings on the soundtrack           
of Georgia.                                                                             
In 2006, she landed the role of Susan Grey on the ABC hit drama Grey's Anatomy           
where she played the stepmother of Dr. Meredith Grey. Her character was suddenly         
killed off in May 2007.                                                                 
In 2006, Winningham voiced the audio version of Stephen King's Lisey's Story. In         
2007, she voiced Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions.