Debra Winger: Wikis


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Debra Winger
Born Mary Debra Winger
May 16, 1955 (1955-05-16) (age 54)
Cleveland Heights, Ohio, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Timothy Hutton (1986–1990)
Arliss Howard (1996–present)

Debra Winger (born May 16, 1955) is an American actress.


Early years

Winger was born as Mary Debra Winger in Cleveland Heights, Ohio into an Orthodox Jewish family, to Robert Winger, a meat packer, and Ruth Felder, an office manager.[1][2][3][4] She has stated publicly and with amusement that the Internet has a growing "snowball" of claims that she had been part of a kibbutz in Israel, whereas she was merely on a typical Israeli youth program that visited the kibbutz.[5] After returning to the States, she was involved in a car accident and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage as a result. She was left partially paralyzed and blind for ten months, although she was initially told that she would never see again. With time on her hands to think about her life, she decided that, if she recovered, she would move to California and become an actress.[6]



Winger's first acting role was as "Debbie" in the 1976 sexploitation film Slumber Party '57[7]. Her next role was as Diana Prince's younger sister Drusilla (Wonder Girl) on the TV show, Wonder Woman.

Winger's acting work has received critical acclaim. She got her first starring role in Urban Cowboy in 1980, opposite John Travolta, for which she received a BAFTA award nomination. In 1982, she co-starred with Nick Nolte in Cannery Row and opposite Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress twice more: for Terms of Endearment in 1983 and for Shadowlands 1993, for which she also received her second BAFTA award nomination. Her performance in A Dangerous Woman garnered a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.[8]

Over the years, Winger acquired a reputation for being very outspoken and sometimes difficult to work with on sets[9][10][11]. She has expressed her dislike of An Officer and a Gentleman, for which she refused to do any publicity[11], and several others of her films, and has been dismissive of some of her co-stars and directors. Commenting on her past attitudes, Winger has stated in 2009, "Most bad behaviour comes from insecurity. Even though I loved what I was doing, I didn't always know I could pull it off. (...) I took [my insecurities] on everybody. But, in my defence, I never fought about the size of my trailer or things like that; it was always about the work."[12].

Winger was originally cast in the lead role in A League of their Own but dropped out and was replaced by Geena Davis.

In 1995, Winger decided to take a hiatus from acting. She has cited her disenchantment with the film business as the reason for her departure, stating in 2002 : "I wanted out for years. I got sick of hearing myself say I wanted to quit. It's like opening an interview with "I hate interviews!" Well, get out! I stopped reading scripts and stopped caring. People said, "We miss you so much." But in the last six years, tell me a film that I should have been in. The few I can think of, the actress was so perfect "[13]. After making Forget Paris in 1995, she was absent from the screen for six years, before making her return in 2001 with Big Bad Love.

From November 1999 to January 2000, Winger had the female lead in the American Repertory Theater's production of Anton Chekhov's play Ivanov.[14]

In 2001, a critically acclaimed documentary film titled Searching for Debra Winger was made by Rosanna Arquette and released in 2002 after Winger returned to film acting.. Other films include Legal Eagles, Made in Heaven, Everybody Wins, The Sheltering Sky, Leap of Faith, Black Widow, Betrayed, Wilder Napalm, A Dangerous Woman and Sometimes in April. She earned an Emmy Award nomination for her title role in the television film Dawn Anna in 2005, directed by her second husband, Arliss Howard.

In 2008 she got positive reviews as Anne Hathaway's estranged mother in Rachel Getting Married[15].

She made a guest appearance in an episode of Law & Order, as a high school principal, which aired in March 2010.[16]

Later pursuits

During her hiatus from the film industry, Winger spent a semester as a teaching fellow at Harvard University.

In 2008, Winger wrote a book based on her personal recollections titled Undiscovered.[17]

In 1995, Winger performed in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a musical performance of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), and issued on CD and video in 1996.

She has shown her support for reconciliation between Arabs and Jews in Israel by visiting the bilingual Hand in Hand schools (Galilee Jewish-Arab School, Gesher al HaWadi School) where, in 2008, she stated she would "dedicate the next bit of my life to these schools".[18]

Winger has also been a vocal opponent of the arrest and prosecution of director Roman Polanski for raping a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s, accusing Switzerland's government of "philistine collusion" for arresting him.[19]

Personal life

In 1983, she dated Bob Kerrey, who was the then-Governor of Nebraska, while filming Terms of Endearment in Lincoln, Nebraska.

From 1986 to 1990, she was married to actor Timothy Hutton, with whom she had a son, Noah Hutton, a documentary filmmaker[20] born in 1987.

In 1996 she married actor/director Arliss Howard, whom she met on the set of the film Wilder Napalm. Their son, Gideon Babe Ruth Howard (known as Babe), was born in 1997. She is stepmother to Sam Howard.


Year Film Role Notes
1976 Slumber Party '57 Debbie
1976-77 Wonder Woman Drusilla (Wonder Girl) (3 episodes)
1978 Thank God It's Friday Jennifer
1979 The Warriors Girl on train (Uncredited)
French Postcards Melanie
1980 Urban Cowboy Sissy Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1982 Cannery Row Suzy DeSoto
An Officer and a Gentleman Paula Pokrifki Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1983 Terms of Endearment Emma Horton National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1984 Mike's Murder Betty Parrish
1986 Legal Eagles Laura J. Kelly
1987 Black Widow Alexandra 'Alex' Barnes
Made in Heaven Emmett Humbird (uncredited)
1988 Betrayed Catherine Weaver
1990 Everybody Wins Angela Crispini
The Sheltering Sky Kit Moresby
1992 Leap of Faith Jane Larson
1993 Wilder Napalm Vida Foudroyant
Shadowlands Joy Gresham Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
A Dangerous Woman Martha Horgan Tokyo International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1995 Forget Paris Ellen Andrews Gordon
2001 Big Bad Love Marilyn
2003 Radio Linda
2004 Eulogy Alice Collins
2005 Sometimes in April Prudence Bushnell
Dawn Anna Dawn Anna Townsend Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
2008 Rachel Getting Married Abby Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
2010 Law & Order Mrs. Woodside ep. 20.14 "Boy on Fire"


  1. ^ "Debra Winger Biography". filmreference. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  2. ^ Jan Hoffman (9 January 1994). "FILM; Debra Winger: Caught on a Winter Afternoon". The New York Times: p. 211. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  3. ^ Adam Dickter (9 July 2008). "Searching For Debra Winger? So's She". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  4. ^ Naomi Pfefferman (March 7, 2002). "'Big Bad' Debra". The Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  5. ^ Leonard Lopate Show radio interview on 6/10/08
  6. ^ Where There'S Smoke, There'S A Fiery Actress Named Debra Winger - New York Times
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Debra Winger bio". American Repertory Theater. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  9. ^ Debra Winger : Dangerous Woman, Time, article by Richard Corliss and Elizabeth L. Bland, January 24, 1994
  10. ^ Debra Winger: a star is re-born, Daily Telegraph, 19 december 2008
  11. ^ a b WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S A FIERY ACTRESS NAMED DEBRA WINGER, The New York Times, article by Stephen Farber, July 6, 1986
  12. ^ Back where she belongs: How Officer and A Gentleman star Debra Winger returned to the silver screen, The Daily Mail, 16 January 2009
  13. ^ Does Debra Winger Still Have Legs?, New York, article by Holly Millea, 25 February 2002
  14. ^ "Ivanov". Experience the A.R.T.. American Repertory Theater. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Debra Winger, Actor—Blue Flower Arts: An Agency Representing Poets, Authors and Speakers
  18. ^ Kupfer, Ruta (2008-03-28). "Weighing their words with care". Ha'aretz (reprinted in Hand In Hand: Learning Together Living Together). Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  19. ^ "Hollywood Left Bands Together to Fight Polanski Arrest". Fox News. 2009-09-29. 
  20. ^ IMDB Noah Hutton

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