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Mare Winningham
Born Mary Megan Winningham
May 16, 1959 (1959-05-16) (age 50)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Occupation Actress/Singer
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) A Martinez (1981)
William Mapel (1983-1994)
Jason Trucco (2008-present)

Mare Winningham (born May 16, 1959) is an American actress and singer.


Early life

Mary Megan Winningham was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Northridge, California. She has three brothers and one sister. Her father was the chairman of the Department of Physical Education at California State University (CSUN) and her mother was an English teacher and college counselor at Monroe 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 and drums. 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 Chatsworth High School, 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 which she played Justine O'Neill. In 1984 she starred as Helen Keller in Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues.

Winningham achieved greater fame in St. Elmo's Fire (1985) as one of the original "brat pack" alumni. Despite the film's success, she failed 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. Another well-known and well-received performance was her turn starring as a suddenly homeless young mother in the television movie God Bless the Child. 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 1990s, 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 Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations. Two years later, she starred opposite Gary Sinise in George Wallace, for which she garnered her first Golden Globe Award nomination (as her awards page on attests), 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. Also in 2001, she appeared in the made for TV movie Snap Decision with Felicity Huffman. She also appeared in the independent film Dandelion, which was a staple of film festivals worldwide between 2003 and 2004 and had a limited American release in October of 2005.

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. "Lonesomers" is a folksy album dealing with relationship issues, and is available on iTunes. The country/bluegrass/Jewish/folk songs on Refuge Rock Sublime deal mostly with her recent conversion to Judaism, and include the tracks, "What Would David Do," "A Convert Jig" and the Israeli National Anthem,"Hatikva.". 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 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. In 2010, Winningham starred in an episode of Cold Case as main character Lilly Rush's step mother, Celeste Cooper. It hasn't been made clear if she will become a recurring character on the series, but has been speculated as such because of her connection to the main character. [1]

Personal life

Winningham's first, brief marriage was to Mexican-American actor A Martinez; they wed in 1981 and were divorced later that year. In 1982 she married [Charles] William Mapel, a television technical advisor; they were divorced in 1996. Their children are: Riley Sam Mapel (1981-2005), Patrick Mapel (born 1983), Jack Walter Mapel (born 1985), Calla Louise Mapel (born 1986), and Hap Atticus Mapel (born 1988). Riley, an aspiring actor, committed suicide on August 14, 2005. Calla, a student at Barnard College, is following in her mother's footsteps as a singer-songwriter.[2] Patrick is an actor with Rushforth, an ensemble company in Los Angeles.[3] Her youngest son, Hap, is one of the leading forces behind the Irie Sounds Sound Source.

Though raised a Roman Catholic, in November 2001, on a friend's recommendation, she took a class given by Rabbi Neal Weinberg at the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University) in Los Angeles, California. On March 3, 2003, she converted to Judaism.[4] She belongs to Conservative synagogues in the Greater Los Angeles area.

She married her manager, Jason Trucco, on November 15, 2008, in Hollywood, California.


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Young Pioneers Nettie Peters TV movies
Young Pioneers' Christmas
1977 James at 15 Wanda 1 episode - "The Girl with the Bad Rep"
1978 Special Olympics Janice Gallitzin TV movie
Police Woman Linda 1 episode - "Battered Teachers"
The Young Pioneers Nettie Peters 1 episode - "Sky in the Window"
1979 Starsky and Hutch Joey Carston 1 episode - "Ninety Pounds of Trouble"
Family Merilee Kalisher 1 episode - "The Competition"
Steeletown Aggie Modgelewsky TV movies
The Death of Ocean View Park Jenny Flowers
1980 Amber Waves Marlene Burkhardt
Off the Minnesota Strip Micki Johansen
The Women's Room Chris
One Trick Pony Modeena Dandridge
1981 Freedom Libby Bellow TV movie
Threshold Carol Severance
A Few Days in Weasel Creek Locksley Claitor TV movies
1982 Missing Children: A Mother's Story
1983 The Thorn Birds Justine O'Neill
1984 Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues Helen Keller TV movies
Single Bars, Single Women Bootsie
1985 ABC Afterschool Specials Beth 1 episode - "One Too Many"
St. Elmo's Fire Wendy Beamish
Hallmark Hall of Fame Margaret Ryder 1 episode - "Love Is Never Silent"
1986 The Twilight Zone Norma Lewis 1 episode - "Button, Button"
A Winner Never Quits Annie TV movies
Who Is Julia? Mary Frances Bodine
Nobody's Fool Pat
1987 Shy People Candy
Made in Heaven Brenda Carlucci
Eye on the Sparrow Ethel Lee TV movies
1988 God Bless the Child Theresa Johnson
Miracle Mile Julie Peters
1989 Turner & Hooch Dr. Emily Carson
1990 Love and Lies Kim Paris TV movies
Crossing to Freedom Nicole Rougeron
1991 Fatal Exposure Jamie Hurd
She Stood Alone Prudence Crandall
Hard Promises Dawn
1992 Those Secrets Faye TV movies
Intruders Mary Wilkes
1993 Sexual Healing Marta
Better Off Dead Kit Killner TV movies
1994 Betrayed by Love Dana
Teresa's Tattoo Singer
Wyatt Earp Mattie Blaylock
The War Lois Simmons
1995 Georgia Georgia Flood
Letter to My Killer Judy Parma TV movies
1996 The Boys Next Door Sheila
The Deliverance of Elaine Elaine Hodges
1997 Bad Day on the Block Catherine Braverton
George Wallace Lurleen Wallace TV movie
Mad About You Sarah McCain 1 episode - "The New Friend"
1998 1 episode - "The Baby Video"
Everything That Rises Kyle Clay TV movies
Little Girl Fly Away Catherine Begley
ER Dr. Amanda Lee 2 episodes - "Hazed and Confused", "Good Luck, Ruth Johnson"
1999 2 episodes - "The Miracle Worker", "Nobody Doesn't Like Amanda Lee"
Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke Chandi Heffner TV movies
2000 Sally Hemings: An American Scandal Martha Jefferson Randolph
Sharing the Secret Dr. Nina Moss
2001 Snap Decision Jennifer Bradley
Night Visions Kate Morris 1 episode - "Still Life"
2002 Six Feet Under Eileen Piper 1 episode - "The Plan"
Tru Confessions Ginny TV movie
Touched by an Angel Maggie 1 episode - "The Bells of St. Peters"
2003 The Maldonado Miracle Maisie TV movie
The Adventures of Ociee Nash Aunt Mamie Nash
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sandra Blaine 1 episode - "Manic"
The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire Dottie Shaw 7 episodes
2004 Dandelion Layla Mullich
Clubhouse Lynne Young 11 episodes (2004-2005)
2005 The Magic of Ordinary Days Martha TV movie
2007 War Eagle, Arkansas Belle
Boston Legal Patrice Kelly 2 episodes - "Hope and Glory", "The Object of My Affection"
2008 Swing Vote Larissa Johnson
2009 CSI: NY Katherine Donovan 1 episode - "Greater Good"
Brothers Elsie Cahill
2010 Cold Case Celeste Cooper 1 episode - "The Good Soldier"

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards


Emmy Awards
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Amber Waves, 1980
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - George Wallace, 1998


  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 2004
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - The Boys Next Door, 1996
  • Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Love Is Never Silent, 1985
Golden Globe Awards


  • Best Supporting Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie - George Wallace, 1997
Independent Spirit Awards
Screen Actors Guild Awards


  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Georgia, 1995


External links



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