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Diana Muldaur

Muldaur at the 1990 Emmy Awards
Born August 19, 1938 (1938-08-19) (age 71)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1964—
Spouse(s) Robert Dozier

Diana Muldaur (born August 19, 1938) is an American film and television actress.

Contents

Career

Born in New York City, but raised on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts,[1] Muldaur started acting in high school and continued on through college, graduating from Sweet Briar College in Virginia in 1960.[2] She studied acting under Stella Adler[1] and made her name on the New York stage.[3] She was at one point a board member of the Screen Actors Guild and was the first woman to serve as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (1983–1985).[4]

Muldaur's television roles include L.A. Law's Rosalind Shays, and Dr. Katherine Pulaski in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She provided the voice of Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Batman: The Animated Series. She starred in movies such as The Other, One More Train to Rob, McQ and The Lawyer.

Muldaur worked with future co-star Richard Dysart at New York's Circle in the Square in the mid-1960s. She guest starred on the Gunsmoke episode, "Fandango" (1967), with James Arness. An excerpt of that episode's dialogue was sampled on the Pink Floyd album The Wall, after "Hey You" and before the brief song "Is there anybody out there?"[5]

In 1979, she starred on the made-for-television film version on NBC of "The Miracle Worker" in which she played the role of Katie Keller, the mother of the Helen Keller in which she played opposite Melissa Gilbert, Charles Siebert, and Patty Duke-Astin.

Muldaur was a guest star in the episodes "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" of Gene Roddenberry's original Star Trek. She also had a recurring role on the McCloud television series, and she played the part of conservationist Joy Adamson in the short-lived television drama Born Free about Elsa the Lioness. In the second season of the television series Kung Fu in 1973, opposite David Carradine, she guest-starred in the episode titled "The Elixir" playing a travelling show-woman who yearned for freedom from men—topical at the time in the seventies. She also appeared on The Tony Randall Show and guest-starred on The Incredible Hulk, playing the part of Helen Banner, David Banner's sister, in the third season episode, "Homecoming". She played a nun in the fifth season episode "Sanctuary". She played Dr. Alice Foley in the television drama A Year in the Life and praised the show as an example of how television was becoming more realistic about women.[4]

Muldaur was noted for playing "dignified, sophisticated characters",[6] and the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation, having fired Gates McFadden from the role of Dr. Crusher, chief medical officer, after the first season, wanted "someone older and with more bite", and Muldaur's Dr. Katherine Pulaski character did not share a romantic interest with Captain Picard, (Patrick Stewart), as her predecessor Dr. Crusher had,[6] albeit in a "going-nowhere relationship".[7] "We needed someone with a little more of an edge", Rick Berman explained. "Kate's a strong, confident woman with a crusty edge who can hold her own with Captain Picard. Their relationship is not all that unlike the one between Kirk and McCoy ... although from the onset we had no intention of trying to duplicate the original team."[8]

Muldaur said after her casting:

I hadn't kept in touch with Gene over the years. I'd only done a pilot of his, Planet Earth, in 1974. So this call was totally out of the blue. I love being back in Star Trek. It's a challenge, but a healthy challenge. I find so much TV depressing — even the sitcoms. The chances of shows working and being funny or meaningful are very slim. But this show is very exciting. It has such an uplifting view of humanity in the 24th century. They want the crafty old doctor, so basically I'm a woman Dr. McCoy.[1]

Of Pulaski's willingness to stand up to the captain, Muldaur said:

We've been in a fairly stormy relationship due to two very strong personalities. But we end up admiring each other. I'm also giving Brent Spiner (as the android, Data) a very hard time, treating him as a total machine, because that's how I see him, a machine that I can't treat and I don't deal with. But I'm also beginning to see the wonderful android that he is.[1]

Television critics praised Muldaur's performance, with one noting her "wry, no-nonsense warmth that plays nicely off of some of the icier regulars".[9] The addition of Muldaur, along with Whoopi Goldberg, also served to redress the absence of women from the principal cast, after the departure of Denise Crosby and McFadden had left only Marina Sirtis, a rapid attrition of women that recalled the imbalance of the show's 1960s predecessor.[6]

Ultimately, however, Muldaur found working on the syndicated show an "unhappy" experience, saying, "The imagination and joy wasn't there."[10] "Everybody was out for themselves. I don't think they were happy to have me there."[3] "It wasn't what I hoped it would be. I thought it would be wonderfully inventive and wonderfully creative, and I found it was not any of those things. But it did give me Trekkies. I love Trekkies. I find them very dear."[2]

The "crusty"[11] character also proved unpopular with fans,[12] and Muldaur left the series after only one season. Show representatives denied that she had been fired, saying: "Technically, she's just not returning", while other sources said that her option had not been renewed.[13] Roddenberry described Muldaur as "a most talented actress", and said that the decision "to let her go was made solely because the hoped-for chemistry between her and the rest of the starship cast did not develop."[13][14][15] Berman added, "The thought of bringing Gates back was a good idea to us. The feeling was that we had perhaps made a mistake, and the best way to remedy it was to bring her back."[16] The "revolving door"[17] and the limited opportunities for female crew led critics to suggest that the mostly-male series still had a problem featuring women.[18][19]

Muldaur subsequently earned two Emmy nominations for her role as pushy and power-hungry lawyer Rosalind Shays on L.A. Law. Of Roz's creation, Muldaur said:

We didn't think of her as an evil wench at the time. I don't think they knew, and I don't think I knew, what she was going to evolve into. Obviously, they wanted her to stir things up in the office. I don't think they quite understood how she was going to stir things up in America ... The hardest part is having to gear up to play her because some of the things she does are so horrifying. I just say, 'Oh, no, they can't have her doing that.' If it were a man doing the same thing, no one would blink. In fact, it wouldn't even be good copy. It goes on every day. It's that a woman is doing... things a man has done forever and ever.[2]

In one episode Jill Eikenberry's character Ann Kelsey tells Shays: "If you were a man, you'd be applauded for your achievements."[2] Muldaur insisted her character "was just too strong for a lot of men".[3]

Muldaur described the L.A. Law actors as "the closest family",[3] and said she was "thrilled" to play a villain like Shays after portraying "everybody's mistress for 20 years",[10] and expressed fascination with the public reception for Shays:

Not my kind of lady at all. I often read a script and am just horrified. I can't believe they'd be having me do these things. I find very little to like about her. But I'm shocked by the reaction of people. They say, 'Yea! Rosalind!' A lot of women come up to me and say, 'I wish I could have said something like that when so-and-so said such-and-such to me.' I think, 'What a terrible thing to want to do,' but they mean it. I don't think anybody would have really noticed if it had been a man. They would have said, 'He's a pain in the neck,' or something, but they wouldn't have doubted his word for a second. I'm doing some things now that horrify me, but if Leland had done the same things, nobody would be reacting the way they are now.

[10]

The scene where Roz and Leland are discovered in bed was ranked as the 38th greatest moment in television in an issue of EGG magazine. Equally spectacular was Roz's fatal exit from the show, falling down an elevator shaft.[17][20] Muldaur joked: "I was as shocked as everybody else. I thought maybe I had asked for too much money!"[3]

After L.A. Law, Muldaur retired from show business.[3] At one point she contemplated a face-lift, noting in 2000 at the age of 61, "You don't see many people my age on television", but eventually decided against it, remarking, "Somebody has to look the right age."[3] Her stated ambition is "to play all the great women's roles... I'd love to play Lady Macbeth."[3]

Dog breeder

Diana Muldaur is also an Airedale Terriers breeder, owner, and judge.

Personal life

Muldaur is a 1960 graduate of Sweet Briar College, a small privated women's school in central Virginia. Muldaur is the older sister of singer/songwriter Geoff Muldaur and the aunt of singer/songwriter Jenni Muldaur and singer/songwriter Clare Muldaur-Manchon.[21] She lived in Los Angeles from 1970 to 1991.[1]

Muldaur was married to actor James Vickery until his death from cancer in 1979.[3] Muldaur has been married to writer-producer Robert Dozier since 1981.[3] The couple divided their time between Los Angeles and Bear Valley, California, in the High Sierras, north of Yosemite,[4] until Muldaur retired in 1991, after Dozier was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent radiation and beat back a recurrence in 1997.[3] Since 1991 the couple has lived in Martha's Vineyard. Muldaur admitted, "I totally stopped acting and started living."[3] They spend their spare time renovating, golfing and skiing.[3] She has no children.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Westbrook, Bruce. "'Trek' launches new season. Veteran actress to have Dr. McCoylike role aboard Enterprise", Houston Chronicle, 25 November 1988, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b c d Lundin, Diana E. "Muldaur Lays Down the (L.A.) Law", Los Angeles Daily News, 18 October 1990, p. L25.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Miller, Samantha; and Natasha Stoynoff. "Legend of the Fall", People Magazine Vol. 53, No. 5, 7 February 2000, p. 93.
  4. ^ a b c Hanauer, Joan. "TV's 'Year' advances feminism for actress", Chicago Sun-Times, 12 April 1988, p. 44.
  5. ^ Arness: "Well, there's only about an hour of daylight left, we better get started."
    Muldaur: "Isn't it unsafe to travel at night?"
    Arness: "Well, it'll be a lot less safe to stay here, your father's gonna pick up our trail before long."
    Muldaur: "Can Lorca ride?"
    Arness: "He'll have to ride...."
  6. ^ a b c Parks, Louis B. "Goldberg beams on starship for 'Star Trek'", Houston Chronicle, 1 October 1988, p. 1.
  7. ^ Perry, Tony. "Broadcasters make personnel changes", Patriot News, 9 October 1988, p. H11.
  8. ^ Roush, Matt. "Fine-tuned crew can relax an 'Trek' continues", USA Today, 22 November 1988, p. 3D.
  9. ^ Roush, Matt. "New Season; 2nd season explores new stars" USA Today, 22 November 1988, p. 3D.
  10. ^ a b c Green, Tom. "Muldaur shows an edge as steely lawyer", USA Today, 15 March 1990, p. 3D.
  11. ^ Durden, Douglas; and Rob Owen. "To Boldly Go on and on . . . for 30 Years", The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5 October 1996, p. F-4.
  12. ^ Steffan, Janine Dallas. "Beaming On Late? A 'Trek' Primer", The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 November 1996, p. C5.
  13. ^ a b "Suicide song prompts another lawsuit", The Dallas Morning News, 12 June 1989, p. 5C.
  14. ^ "'Star Trek' jettisons Diana Muldaur", Austin American-Statesman, 18 June 1989, p. 19.
  15. ^ "'Star Trek' co-star steamed over attacks on Shatner Series", St. Petersburg Times, 19 June 1989, p. 3D.
  16. ^ Westbrook, Bruce. "Going where no `Trek' has gone before. Cliffhanger ends series' third season", Houston Chronicle, 23 June 1990, p. 1.
  17. ^ a b Sokolsky, Bob. "The revolving door TV actors work in a mercurial medium, which is why it can be difficult to keep track of who's coming and going", The Press-Enterprise, 6 September 1998, p. F18.
  18. ^ Westbrook, Bruce. "Star Trek. Television's Enterprise lacks boldness as its third season begins", Houston Chronicle, 30 September 1989, p. 1.
  19. ^ Owen, Rob. "Boldly going, gone: Last episode of 'Trek'", The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 21 May 1994.
  20. ^ Grahnke, Lon. "Feminist heroes show new power", Chicago Sun-Times, 14 August 1996, p. 49.
  21. ^ Diana Muldaur at the Internet Movie Database Retrieved on 2009-08-31.

External links

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