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Marg Helgenberger

Marg Helgenberger, November 2007
Born Mary Margaret Helgenberger
November 16, 1958 (1958-11-16) (age 51)
Fremont, Nebraska, U.S.
Other name(s) Mary Helgenberger
Occupation Actress
Years active 1975–present

Mary Marg Helgenberger[1] (born November 16, 1958 in Fremont, Nebraska) is an American film and television actress, perhaps best known for her roles as Catherine Willows in the CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and as K.C. Koloski in the ABC drama China Beach, which earned her the 1990 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.


Early life

Marg (pronounced with a hard "G," unlike the name Marge) Helgenberger is the daughter of Kay, a nurse, and Hugh Helgenberger, a meat inspector.[2][3] She is of Irish and German descent[4] and had a Roman Catholic upbringing.[5] Marg has one older sister named Ann and a younger brother named Curt. One of her first jobs, as a teenager, was spending her summers and her Christmas breaks working as a "deboner" at the meat packing plant where her father was employed. Helgenberger played the French horn in her high school (North Bend Central High School) marching band. Until she went to college, Helgenberger wanted to be a nurse like her mother. Marg attended Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) in Kearney, Neb., then attended Northwestern University's School of Speech in Evanston, Illinois (now the School of Communication) and earned a B.S. degree in Speech and Drama.[6]


Helgenberger at the 1990 Emmy Awards

Originally planning to be a nurse like her mother, Helgenberger got her start as a nightly local news weather girl in her hometown Nebraska (her name was changed by the producer to Margi McCarty) and as a meat boner at the meat packing plant her father was working at during the day. After portraying the role of Blanche Dubois in a university production of A Streetcar Named Desire, she was bitten by the acting bug.

While performing in a summer of 1981 NU campus productions of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, in which she played Kate, Marg was spotted by a scout for the TV soap opera Ryan's Hope. Soon after completing college, Marg landed her first professional acting role on the long-running ABC Daytime soap opera, playing uptight amateur cop Siobhan Ryan Novak (1982-1986), a role previously played by Sarah Felder and Ann Gillespie. Helgenberger departed Ryan's Hope in January 1986 and was subsequently replaced in the role of Siobhan by Carrell Myers.

Helgenberger guest starred in an episode of ABC's mystery/detective series based on Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, Spenser: For Hire, NBC's legal drama Matlock and ABC's drama thirtysomething. She also played a regular role as Natalie Thayer, opposite Margot Kidder and James Reid, on CBS’ six-episode drama comedy series Shell Game (1987).

Karen Charlene "K.C." Koloski, a heroin-addicted prostitute on the ABC war drama series China Beach, was Marg’s first prominent role. Her performance from 1988 to 1991 on the highly-acclaimed dramatic series won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1990.

Meanwhile, in 1989, Marg made her feature film debut in a leading role as an all-night answering service operator in one segment of the Wheat brothers’ horror anthology After Midnight. She followed it up with a role in Steven Spielberg's romantic comedy-drama Always (starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman), a modern version of the original 1943 Victor Fleming film A Guy Named Joe.

During the early to mid 1990s, Marg played roles in Michael Bortman's adaptation of Robert Boswell's novel, Crooked Hearts (1991; with Peter Berg, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Noah Wyle and Peter Coyote), Gregg Champion's action comedy The Cowboy Way (1994), in which she played Woody Harrelson's love interest, and had a small role as Capt. Alison Sinclair in Michael Bay's action comedy film starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, Bad Boys (1995). She also played Dr. Laura Baker, a molecular biologist, in Roger Donaldson's sci-fi thriller, Species (1995), and reprised the role in the sequel, Species II (1998).

During that time, TV viewers could also catch her in such television films Blind Vengeance, Lifetime’s Death Dreams, PBS’ historical documentary Not on the Frontline (as a narrator) and CBS’ In Sickness and in Health. Additionally, she was also seen opposite Bruno Kirby in I'll Be Waiting, a segment of Showtime's Fallen Angels helmed by Tom Hanks, and as a novelist on the ABC miniseries Stephen King's The Tommyknockers opposite Jimmy Smits. She was also seen in the CBS miniseries When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn and made her first collaboration with director Peter Weller in Showtime's Partners. After playing a recurring role as George Clooney's love interest on NBC's medical drama ER, Marg became David Caruso's sex-starved widow on Showtime’s Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast, helmed by Weller, and starred as a woman involved with Steven Seagal in the 1997 action film Fire Down Below. She also starred as a talk show host on Murder Live and portrayed the furious sibling to Steven Weber's character on Showtime's miniseries about the elusive Gulf War Syndrome, Thanks of a Grateful Nation. She also starred opposite Ann-Margret in Showtime's Happy Face Murders.

In 2000, Helgenberger made a guest appearance in the Valentine's Day episode of Frasier, in which Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) finally wears down his dad Martin's resistance and gets the older man to accompany him to the opera. Actually, this invitation is but a smokescreen, so that Frasier can "accidentally" run into his newest dream girl Emily (Marg Helgenberger).

Helgenberger scored another big break when she snagged the co-starring role of Catherine Willows, a former show girl employed as a blood spatter analyst on the CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Her performance as the female lead has earned her two Emmy Award and two Golden Globe nominations. In 2005, she and her fellow cast members won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

When CSI first started filming, Helgenberger visited the Clark County Coroner’s Office to see how things were really done. She even viewed autopsies that were being performed. Helgenberger has stated that she was angered at the franchising of CSI. She says that she often plays hacky sack with the guys during their free time on set. Helgenberger got the chance to act with her husband, Alan Rosenberg, again when he guest starred on CSI, Season 5 ("Weeping Willows") and Season 7 ("Leaving Las Vegas").

During her stint on the hit show, Marg supported Julia Roberts in the film Erin Brockovich and portrayed Patsy Ramsey in the CBS miniseries about the mysterious murder of 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey in Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. She also starred as Dennis Quaid’s wife and Scarlett Johansson’s mother in writer-director Paul Weitz's romantic drama comedy In Good Company (2004) and appeared on Pond's Smooth Perfection Skin Cream 2005 print ad.

Marg is currently filming writer-director Charles Burmeister's upcoming thriller, Columbus Day, starring Val Kilmer.

In 2005, Universal Studios submitted Helgenberger in the best supporting actress category to the Oscars for her performance as Ann Foreman in the 2004 movie In Good Company. In 2007, she was featured in the movies Conan: Red Nails (as the voice of Princess Tascela) and Mr. Brooks. In Mr. Brooks her character's daughter is played by Danielle Panabaker, the sister of Kay Panabaker, who plays Catherine Willow's daughter on CSI.

In mid 2006, Helgenberger’s hometown of North Bend, Nebraska, population 1213, renamed the street on which Helgenberger had her childhood home "Helgenberger Avenue."

In animation, she lent her voice as Greek goddess Hera on DC Universe straight-to-video feature Wonder Woman.[7]

Helgenberger is the unrequited love interest of the bespectacled amphibian Buddy in Mark Heath's Spot the Frog comic strip.

In 2008, she renewed her CSI contract with CBS for 2 additional years.[8]

Media spotlight

Helgenberger continues to be included in lists of Hollywood's Most Beautiful. In 2002 she was listed on People Magazine’s "50 Most Beautiful People",[9] she was included in Esquire Magazine’s “5 More Women We Love” in 2002,[10] she ranks #16 on VH1's 40 Hottest Women over 40,[11] number 15 of The 25 Most Attractive (Famous) Women in America in 2004, in 2004 she ranked number 35, 30, 29, 20, 17, 12 and 9 on The Glamour Girls Hot 100 due to her movie In Good Company and her TV Guide cover. She was on the list for about 10 weeks and spent 1 week on the top ten. She is the 4th oldest woman to be in the top ten. Her character on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Catherine Willows, along with the character of Gil Grissom, was named number 82 in "Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters".[12] On March 2006, Catherine Willows was named number 6 on The Star's Top Ten Hottests TV Characters. In 2007, Marg was named one of the most pleasant celebrities on E! online's Answer B!tch Q&A page.[13] On March 2007 Helgenberger was named one of the sexiest TV stars of 2007 by TV Guide Magazine.[14] Entertainment Weekly included her in the list of "The EW 100 Stars We Love Right Now" in 2007.[15] On April 2008, she joined the roster of celebrities that sported the famous milk mustache as she was chosen as an endorser of the Got Milk? campaign.[16].

Personal life

In 1984, Marg Helgenberger met Alan Rosenberg, a guest actor on Ryan's Hope. The two became friends and started dating in 1986. They married in 1989 and have one son, Hugh Howard Rosenberg (born October 21, 1990), named after Helgenberger's late father, Hugh Helgenberger. On December 1, 2008, the couple announced that they were separating, and on March 25, 2009, she filed for divorce.[17][18]

As a result of Helgenberger's mother's 27 year battle against breast cancer, Helgenberger and Rosenberg became involved in the fight against breast cancer. They have hosted a benefit called Marg and Alan's Celebrity Weekend every year in Omaha, Nebraska since 1997.


Guest appearances

Awards and nominations

Blockbuster Entertainment Award

  • 2001: nominated – Favorite Supporting Actress in a Drama – Erin Brockovich

Emmy Award

  • 1990: won – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1992: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 2001: nominated – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – CSI
  • 2003: nominated – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – CSI

Golden Globe Award

  • 1991: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – China Beach
  • 1991: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1992: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 2002: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – CSI
  • 2003: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – CSI

Satellite Awards

  • 2002: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Drama – CSI

People's Choice Awards

  • 2002: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
  • 2003: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
  • 2004: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
  • 2005: won – Favorite Female TV Star – CSI
  • 2005: won – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • 2005: won the Screen Actors Guild Award – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI

TV Guide Awards

  • 2001: nominated – Actress of the Year in a New Series – CSI

Viewers For Quality Television Awards

  • 1989: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1990: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1991: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Mary Margaret Helgenberger (born 1958-11-16) is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated American film and television actress. Helgenberger is known for her role as Catherine Willows on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and her role as KC Koloski in China Beach, for the latter of which she won an Emmy.


  • I’ve always liked shooting in Vegas, it’s such a character. It’s so visually stimulating.
    • On what she’ll miss when she’s done on CSI
  • I either play cops or criminals - I'm either on the right side of the law or the wrong side. I gravitate toward edgier material because it suits my nature. I find it fascinating to play. I'm just that kind of person.
  • I had pink hair! I don't know. You know what? That shade was known as "PMS Pink." I was totally PMS-ing that day - I was crazy! What did I think, I was gonna get away with pink hair on CSI?
    • On her hair at the 2001 TV Guide Awards
  • We were in Paris this last summer and we were at the Musée d'Orsay, and it just always freaks me out when people stop you and wanna take your picture as opposed to looking at a Van Gogh, or something.
  • I always love it when people say [assumes self-important mock voice] "It's the only one we watch, none of them can compare to you guys, blah, blah, blah."
    • On CSI versus the two spin-offs
  • I'm relatively squeamish in civilian life. I've been very fortunate not to have to deal with such things in my immediate family. When we're filming autopsy scenes, I actually feel sad. Behind each of these deaths there's usually a back story of unhappiness and loss. We use a guidebook the Las Vegas police put together that's incredibly graphic. Looking at the pictures can make me turn white. If I'm going over the script at home, my husband will ask, "Are you all right?"
    • On filming the squeamish scenes on CSI
  • I keep telling the producers I'd love to have a relationship. We do a lot of cerebral work on the show playing opposite a swab or a computer screen. I'd much rather play opposite someone like Gary Dourdan - he's not bad at all! It would be great because it would give my character the opportunity to show a few more colors - her passionate side, or intimate side or vulnerable side.
  • They wanted to honor me by naming a street after me, Helgenberger Avenue. It was on the corner that I grew up. I was able to tour the home in which I grew up. It was right across the street from the public swimming pool where I was a lifeguard swim instructor.
    • On a street being named after her in her home town of North Bend, Nebraska
  • I doubt it will be any kind of an intimate relationship. We always will have some closeness, but I think we have just a marriage of the minds, the two of us, and he's great to work with. A bit of yin and yang in that relationship, for sure.
    • On whether Gil and Catherine will ever get together
  • I'm more willing to sit back and let things come to me, but this business is too competitive, and one has got to be more aggressive and go for things. Those are the ones that succeed.
  • My career is always just been putting one foot in front of the other.
  • I'm Catholic, he's Jewish, and it was just easier to elope.
  • When I think of home, I think of fishing with my dad.
  • I opened an account and a relationship.
    • On meeting her husband Alan at a bank in LA
  • I think it made the whole group of us closer...It was a real bonding experience, especially given the way the season was. We didn't see much of each other. There was competitiveness between the two shifts.
  • I don't boss you around.
  • I think he's horny! (On co-star William Petersen kissing her during E! News interview)

External links

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