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Maura Tierney
Born Maura Therese Tierney[1]
February 3, 1965 (1965-02-03) (age 45)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Occupation Actress
Years active 1987–present
Spouse(s) Billy Morrissette
(February 1993 – July 2006)

Maura Therese Tierney (born February 3, 1965) is an American film and television actress, who is likely best known for her roles as Lisa Miller on NewsRadio and Abby Lockhart on the television medical drama ER. Following ER, Tierney was set to star in the NBC series, Parenthood; however, she left the show after filming the pilot to undergo treatment for breast cancer.[2]


Early life

Tierney was born and raised in the Hyde Park neighborhood[3] of Boston. Her mother, Pat, is a real estate broker and her father, Joseph, was a prominent Boston politician who served on the Boston City Council for 15 years. Tierney is of Irish descent.[4]

She attended Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, Massachusetts, where her studies included drama and led to her appearance at the Boston Globe Drama Festival.[3] After graduation, she attended New York University and majored in dance, but changed her major to drama.[5]


After appearing in several plays, she moved to Los Angeles, California and in 1987 got her first break in a role in Walt Disney's made-for-TV film Student Exchange.[6] Tierney's first starring role in a film was in a low-budget, independently-produced film called Dead Women in Lingerie, shot in 24 days.[7] The film never received a theatrical release, although it was released on DVD in 2005.[8]

Tierney continued winning small roles in film and television, though it was not until her leading role in the sitcom NewsRadio from 1995–1999 that she received regular national exposure. While she was a NewsRadio cast member, she also appeared in two successful films (Primal Fear and Forces of Nature), and the even more successful Jim Carrey film Liar Liar.[9]

After NewsRadio was canceled, Tierney decided not to pursue a role in another sitcom:

[W]hen NewsRadio got canceled, ... I thought, there's probably not gonna be something like [that show] again for me...So then, when ER called,...that was a way to stay in [television] that would remain interesting for me.[4]

Tierney played Nurse Abigail "Abby" Lockhart on ER, a character that began as a guest appearance as an OB nurse in November 1999, then expanded in February 2000 to a full-time regular part as an ER nurse (and later, after completion of medical school, a full-on ER doctor). Within a year, her work on ER had earned her an Emmy Award nomination, recognition she credits to a "juicy" story arc featuring Sally Field as Lockhart's mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder.[6]

Tierney confirmed in April 2008 that she would be leaving ER shortly after the beginning of the show's fifteenth season. In October 2008, she made her final regular appearance on the series after nearly 10 seasons on the show. She did return to make a cameo appearance on one additional episode later on during the final season.

As of 2007 Tierney's highest-profile film since joining the cast of ER was the 2002 film Insomnia.[9] That same year she also starred in Scotland, Pa., portraying a Lady Macbeth-like character written specifically for her by then-husband Billy Morrissette. She was praised by critics for her performance. She collaborated with NewsRadio writer Joe Furey for a special, "Working with Joe Furey" featurette for Furey's film Love and Support. In 2004, Tierney won the second season tournament of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown against Lauren Graham.

She returned to the stage in May 2006 in an appearance opposite Eric McCormack in the off-Broadway premiere of Some Girl(s).[10] She also appeared in the 2008 films Semi-Pro, Baby Mama, The Go-Getter and Finding Amanda.

Tierney played the role of Laurel in the off-Broadway play Three Changes [11] with Dylan McDermott.[12] from September 16 to October 4, 2008.

She returned to television in 2009, playing the recurring character Kelly McPhee on the FX series Rescue Me.

Personal life

Tierney married actor-director Billy Morrissette on February 1, 1993, two days before her 28th birthday, after the two met on the set of a never-aired television series.[13] She filed for divorce 13 years later, citing irreconcilable differences. They had no children.

On February 1, 2009, which would have been her own 16th wedding anniversary, she officiated at the wedding of ER castmate/friend, Parminder Nagra and photographer James Stenson.[14]

On December 14, 2009, Maura's father, former Boston City Council President Joseph M. Tierney, died at his Hyde Park home at age 68 after a brief battle with cancer.[15]

Breast cancer

Tierney had been cast to star in the 2009 NBC drama, Parenthood. According to The Hollywood Reporter on July 10, 2009, the series was pushed to midseason. Filming had been scheduled to begin July 27. Production has been postponed for eight weeks to late September, according to NBC, "due to medical evaluation that (Tierney) is undergoing ... [W]e are unable to release further details and ask that you respect her privacy at this time".[16]

On July 13, 2009 it was announced that Tierney would have surgery to remove a tumor from her breast.[17][18] On September 10, 2009, it was announced that she had left the cast of Parenthood due to schedule conflicts with her cancer treatments, and would not be returning to the show. Lauren Graham replaced her.[19]

On January 27, 2010, her publicist revealed that she had finished treatment and was going back to work, signing up to star in a stage play.[20]


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Student Exchange Kathy Maltby TV movies.
1988 Crossing the Mob Michelle
The Van Dyke Show
10 episodes
Jillian Ryan
1989 Family Ties
Ep: My Best Friend's Girl
1990 Booker
Ep: Reunion
Donna Cofax
Flying Blind Donna TV movie.
1991 Dead Women in Lingerie Molly Field
The Linguini Incident Cecelia
Law & Order
Ep: Aria
Patricia 'Patti' Blaine
1992 White Sands Noreen
1993 Fly by Night Denise
The Temp Sharon Derns
1994 Lifestories: Families in Crisis
Ep: A Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story
Out of Darkness Meg TV movie.
704 Hauser
5 episodes
1995 Mercy Simonet
97 episodes
Lisa Miller
1996 Primal Fear Naomi Chance
1997 Liar Liar Audrey Reede
1998 Primary Colors Daisy Green
1999 Forces of Nature Bridget Cahill
Oxygen Det. Madeline Foster
Instinct Lynn Powell
189 episodes
Dr. Abby Lockhart
2000 Mexico City Pam on Phone (voice)
King of the Hill
Ep: Movin' On Up
Tanya (voice)
2001 Scotland, Pa Pat McBeth
2002 Insomnia Rachel Clement
Rooftop Kisses Denise
The Nazi Helen
2003 Melvin Goes to Dinner Leslie
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Sally Mannis
2006 Danny Roane: First Time Director Maura Tierney
Diggers Gina
2007 The Go-Getter Hal's Pets
2008 Semi-Pro Lynn
Baby Mama Caroline
Finding Amanda Lorraine Mendon
2009 Rescue Me
6 episodes
Kelly McPhee


  1. ^ Clark County, NV Marriage Records
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Prescription for success, a February 2002 Boston Phoenix interview
  4. ^ a b Maura Tierney, original air date November 14, 2006, interviewed on The Tavis Smiley Show
  5. ^ Glamour magazine article
  6. ^ a b Dream Life, a September 2001 interview in Brntwd Magazine
  7. ^ Interview with director Erica Fox
  8. ^ July 2005 press release
  9. ^ a b Maura Tierney from The Numbers website
  10. ^ ...Tierney Becomes One of LaBute's Some Girl(s) for US Debut, Playbill (March 2006 article)
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Playwrights Horizons signs stars
  13. ^ Natalie Finn (Jul 27, 2006). E! Online "Maura Tierney's Marriage Flatlines". E! Online. E! Online. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  14. ^ "OK! Exclusive: Parminder Nagra's Wedding Album", OK! Magazine
  15. ^ Marquard, Bryan (December 14, 2009). "Joseph Tierney, led Boston's City Council, at 68". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  16. ^ Hollywood Reporter on Tierney's new series being delayed
  17. ^ Tierney to undergo surgery
  18. ^ Discovery of breast tumor
  19. ^ ^ Natalie Abrams. "Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham Takes Starring Role in Parenthood".
  20. ^ "Maura Tierney goes back to work after battling cancer". Entertainment Weekly. January 27, 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2010. 

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