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Meredith Baxter

Baxter at an AIDS Project Los Angeles benefit, 1990.
Born Meredith Ann Baxter
June 21, 1947 (1947-06-21) (age 62)
South Pasadena, California, United States
Other name(s) Meredith Baxter-Birney
Occupation Actress/Producer
Years active 1971–present
Spouse(s) Robert Lewis Bush (1966–1969, divorced)
David Birney
(1974–1989, divorced)
Michael Blodgett (1995–2000, divorced)
Domestic partner(s) Nancy Locke

Meredith Baxter (born June 21, 1947), also known for some years as Meredith Baxter-Birney, is an American actress and producer. She is known for her acting roles including two television series: Family (1976-1980), an ABC television-network drama, and Family Ties (1982-1989), an NBC television-network situation comedy.


Early life

She was born Meredith Ann Baxter in South Pasadena, California, the daughter of actress and situation-comedy creator Whitney Blake and Tom Baxter, a radio announcer.[2] She was raised in Southern California and has two brothers: Richard (born 1944) and Brian (born 1946). Her mother's widower is situation-comedy writer Allan Manings.


Baxter got her first big break on television in 1972 as one of the stars of the Bridget Loves Bernie, a CBS television-network situation comedy. The series was canceled after one season, but her co-star, David Birney became her second husband in 1974. Following their marriage and until their divorce in 1989, she was credited as Meredith Baxter-Birney.

As Baxter-Birney, she became widely known several years later on Family. She played the role of Nancy Lawrence Maitland and received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1977 and 1978).

After Family ended, she starred with Annette O'Toole and Shelley Hack in Vanities (1981), a television production of the comedy-drama stage play about the lives, loves and friendship of three Texas cheerleaders starting from high school to post-college graduation; it aired as a part of Standing Room Only, a series on the premium-television channel HBO.

Baxter-Birney's next series was Family Ties, on which she played an ex-flower-child mother, Elyse Keaton, on Family Ties; in reality, she is only fourteen years older than Michael J. Fox, who played her son Alex Keaton.

Following Family Ties, Baxter (whose marriage to Birney ended in 1989) produced and starred in television films. She portrayed a psychopathic kidnapper in The Kissing Place (1990) and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special for her work in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992), based on the true story of a divorcée who was convicted of murder in the shooting of her ex-husband and his young wife.

In 1994, she won[1] a Daytime Emmy Award for her role as a lesbian mother raising a young son, in Other Mothers (1993), a CBS Schoolbreak Special. For her work on the television film My Breast (1994), she received a special award for public awareness from the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

In 1997, Baxter once again played the mother of a character played by Fox, this time on Spin City, an ABC situation comedy.

In 2005, she began appearing in television commercials for Garden State Life Insurance Company. In 2006, she temporarily co-hosted — with Matt LauerToday, the NBC morning news and talk show. In 2007, she made a guest appearance on What About Brian, an ABC drama series. That same year, she also made several appearances as the dying mother of Detective Lilly Rush on Cold Case, a CBS police-procedural series. In 2009, she is guest starring in season two the web series We Have To Stop Now.[3]

In recent years, Baxter has also created a skin-care line, Meredith Baxter Simple Works,[4] which helps raise funds for her breast-cancer research foundation.

Personal life

Baxter has been married three times and has five children. In 1966, she married Robert Lewis Bush and they had two children — Ted (born 1967) and Eva (born 1969); the couple was divorced in 1969. In 1974, she married Birney and had three children — Kate (born 1974) and twins, Mollie and Peter (born 1984).[5] Following their divorce in 1989, she reverted to using Meredith Baxter. In 1995, she married actor and screenwriter Michael Blodgett; they were divorced in 2000.

Baxter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999.[6]

In 2004, she joined with Michael Gross, her former co-star from Family Ties, to campaign for John Kerry's candidacy for the U.S. presidency.[7]

Baxter was the guest speaker at the 2008 Southern Commencement for National University in La Jolla, California, and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the university.[8]

In 2009, the The National Enquirer reported that Baxter was seen on a lesbian cruise with a female friend. This led to speculation as to whether Baxter was a lesbian or simply enjoying the cruise as a platonic straight friend. On December 2, 2009, she came out as a lesbian during an interview with Lauer on Today, and on the Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius-XM OutQ 102[9][10]. She lives with her partner, Nancy Locke, a general contractor, with whom she has been since 2005. Baxter said she first realized she was a lesbian when she began her first homosexual relationship in 2002.[1][11][12]

On December 17, 2009, TV Guide reported that Baxter will write a memoir. Broadway Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, has purchased the rights to Baxter's as-yet-untitled and as-yet-unwritten life story. In the book, Baxter "will present a fully realized portrait of her life as an actress, mother of five children, and grandmother, and will candidly discuss her fight with breast cancer, her 19 years of sobriety, entrepreneurship, and her decision to come out," a press release said. [13]


Year Film Role Notes
1972 Stand Up and Be Counted Tracy
Ben Eve Garrison
1976 All the President's Men Debbie Sloan
Bittersweet Love Patricia
1990 Jezebel's Kiss Virginia De Leo
1999 Elevator Seeking Ann
2003 Devil's Pond Kate
2005 Paradise Texas Liz Cameron
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green Harper Green
2008 The Onion Movie Cooking Show Chef direct-to-video release
Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Young Lawyers Gloria 1 episode
The Doris Day Show April 1 episode
The Partridge Family Jenny 1 episode
1972 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Ann Glover 1 episode
1972–1973 Bridget Loves Bernie Bridget Fitzgerald Steinberg 24 episodes
1973 The Invasion of Carol Enders Carol Enders television movie
Doc Elliot Jenny 1 episode
The Cat Creature Rena Carter ABC television movie
1974 Barnaby Jones Jenny Sutherland 1 episode
The Stranger Who Looks Like Me Joanne Denver ABC television movie
Young Love April CBS television movie
1974–1975 Medical Center Paula
2 episodes
1975 Target Risk Linda Flayly NBC television movie
The Imposter Julie Watson NBC television movie
The Streets of San Francisco Jodi Dixon 1 episode
The Night That Panicked America Linda Davis ABC television movie
Medical Story Erica Schiff
2 episodes
McMillan and Wife Faye Leonard 1 episode
1976 City of Angels Mary Kingston 3 episodes
Wide World Mystery 1 episode
Police Woman Liz Robson 1 episode
1976–1980 Family Nancy Lawrence Maitland 45 episodes
1977–1982 The Love Boat Sandy Rytell 3 episodes
1978 Little Women Meg March NBC television movie
1979 The Family Man Mercedes Cole CBS television movie
1980 Beulah Land Lauretta Pennington NBC miniseries
1981 Vanities Joanne HBO televised presentation of stage production
The Two Lives of Carol Letner Carol Letner CBS television movie
1982 Take Your Best Shot Carol Marriner CBS television movie
1982–1989 Family Ties Elyse Keaton 171 episodes
1985 The Rape of Richard Beck Barbara McKee ABC television movie
Family Ties Vacation Elyse Keaton NBC television movie
1986 Kate's Secret Kate Stark NBC television movie
1987 The Long Journey Home (film) Maura Wells CBS television movie
1988 The Diaries of Adam and Eve Eve television movie
Mickey's 60th Birthday Elyse Keaton television special
Winnie Winnie NBC television movie
1989 She Knows Too Much Samantha White NBC television movie
1990 The Kissing Place Florence Tulane USA Network television movie
Burning Bridges Lynn Hollinger ABC television movie
1992 A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story Betty Broderick CBS television movie
Stolen Love DeeDee ABC Television movie
1993 Darkness Before Dawn Mary Ann Guard NBC television movie
also co-executive producer
CBS Schoolbreak Special - Other Mothers Paula Hensen 1 episode; won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role
1994 For the Love of Aaron Margaret Gibson television movie
One More Mountain Margaret Reed ABC television movie
My Breast Joyce Wadler CBS television movie
also co-executive producer
1995 Betrayed: A Story of Three Women Amanda Nelson ABC television movie
also co-executive producer
1996 The Faculty Flynn Sullivan 1 episode
also executive producer
After Jimmy Maggie Stapp television movie
1997 Dog's Best Friend Cow (Voice) television movie
The Inheritance Beatrice Hamilton television movie
Let Me Call You Sweetheart D.A. Kerry McGrath The Family Channel television movie
Miracle in the Woods Sarah Weatherby television movie
Spin City Macy Flaherty 2 episodes: "Family Affair" (Part 1) and "Family Affair" (Part 2)
1999 Holy Joe Annie Cass CBS television movie
Down Will Come Baby Leah Garr CBS television movie
Miracle on the 17th Green Susan McKinley CBS television movie
2000 The Wednesday Woman Muriel Davidson CBS television movie
2001 A Mother's Fight for Justice Terry Stone Lifetime Television movie
Aftermath Carol television movie
Murder on the Orient Express Mrs. Caroline Hubbard television movie
2002 A Christmas Visitor Carol Boyajian Hallmark Channel television movie
2003 7th Heaven Mrs. Jones 1 episode: "Go Ask Alice"
2004 Half & Half Joan Tyrell 1 episode
Angel in the Family Lorraine Hallmark Channel television movie
2005 The Closer Congresswoman Simmons 1 episode: "Fantasy Date"
2006 Brothers & Sisters Margaret Packard 1 episode: "For the Children"
2006–2007 Cold Case Ellen Rush 5 episodes
2007 What About Brian Frankie 1 episode: "What About All That Glitters..."
2009 Bound by a Secret Ida Mae Hallmark Channel television movie
Family Guy Elyse Keaton and herself 2 episodes: "Stew-Roids" and "Family Gay"

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Series or Film
1977 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Family
1978 Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Family
1992 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story
1994 21st Daytime Emmy Awards Won Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special CBS Schoolbreak Special - Other Mothers
2007 TV Land Award Nominated Lady You Love to Watch Fight for Her Life in a Movie of the Week


  1. ^ a b c Rao, Vidya (December 2, 2009)"'Family Ties' Mom: ‘I Am a Lesbian’ — Meredith Baxter Says She Has Been Dating Women for the Past Seven Years". Today (via MSNBC). Accessed December 2, 2009.
  2. ^Staff writer (undated). "Meredith Baxter Biography (1947-)". Accessed December 6, 2009.
  3. ^ Staff writer (undated). "Season 2", section home page (providing guest star roster) at Accessed December 6, 2009.
  4. ^ home page of Baxter's skin-care company. Accessed December 6, 2009.
  5. ^ Staff writer (undated). "Biography for Meredith Baxter". Turner Classic Movies. Accessed December 6, 2009.
  6. ^ Staff writer (January 30, 2009). "Meredith Baxter". Sharing Miracles ("a blog of personal stories of miracles and hope"). Accessed December 6, 2009.
  7. ^ Mongo (blog) (October 14, 2004). "Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross to Hold Kerry Rally in Z-Ville". Democratic Underground. Accessed December 6, 2009.
  8. ^ Johnson, Tony (July 28, 2008). "National University Commencement 2008 — Could Be Good, Could Be Bad". The Herald. Accessed December 2, 2009.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^Staff writer (Undated). "Meredith Baxter: I'm a Lesbian". The Plastic Surgery Channel. Accessed December 6, 2009.
  12. ^ Zwecker, Bill (December 2, 2009). "TV Mom Baxter Bares a Big Secret Today — 'Family Ties' Actress Reveals She's Lesbian". Chicago Sun-Times. Accessed December 6, 2009.
  13. ^ Eng, Joyce (December 17, 2009). "Family Ties' Meredith Baxter to Pen Memoir". TV Guide. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 

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