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Bess Armstrong

Bess Armstrong
Armstrong in On Our Own (1977).
Born Elizabeth Key Armstrong
(1953-12-11) December 11, 1953
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1975–present
Spouse(s) John Fiedler (1985–present) 3 children
Chris Carreras (1983–1984) (divorced)

Elizabeth Key "Bess" Armstrong (born December 11, 1953) is an American film, stage and television actress. She is best known for her roles in films The Four Seasons (1981), High Road to China (1983), Jaws 3-D (1983), and Nothing in Common (1986). Armstrong also starred in the critically acclaimed ABC drama series My So-Called Life and had lead roles in a number of made-for-television films.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Filmography 3
    • Film 3.1
    • Television 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life

Armstrong was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Louise Allen (née Parlange), who taught at Bryn Mawr, and Alexander Armstrong, an English teacher at the Gilman School.[1][2] She attended the Bryn Mawr School for Girls and Brown University, from which she graduated with degrees in Latin and Theater (studying acting with Jim Barnhill and John Emigh). While at Bryn Mawr and Brown, Armstrong appeared in over one hundred stage plays.


Armstrong's professional acting career began in 1975 with the Off-Off Broadway debut, Harmony House. Then, in 1977, Armstrong made her television debut as Julia Peters on the CBS sitcom, On Our Own. In 1978 Armstrong starred opposite Richard Thomas in her first TV-movie Getting Married. She co-starred again with Richard Thomas in a 1981 stage production in Seattle of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, from which a video was made for HBO broadcast that year.

Armstrong continued to make several films for both the big and small screens in the 1980s, among them High Road to China opposite Tom Selleck; Jaws 3-D with Dennis Quaid; Alan Alda's The Four Seasons; the TV miniseries Lace; and Nothing in Common, starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason.

The 1990s brought Armstrong to her best-known role, playing Patty Chase on the critically acclaimed series My So-Called Life. She later starred in several television films. In 2000, she appeared on the NBC sitcom Frasier, in the episode "Mary Christmas." In 2008, Armstrong played Penelope Kendall on ABC's Boston Legal. Armstrong remains active in films, television, and the stage.[3] She had a recurring role in the Showtime series House of Lies as Julianne Hotschragar. She also appeared in Castle, Mad Men and NCIS.



Year Title Role Notes
1978 Getting Married Kristine Lawrence TV Movie
1978 How to Pick Up Girls! Sally Claybrook TV Movie
1979 Walking Through the Fire Walking Through the Fire TV Movie
1979 11th Victim Jill Kelso TV Movie
1981 The Four Seasons Ginny Newley
1982 Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again Mary Carew
1983 High Road to China Eve Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
1983 Jaws 3-D Dr. Kathryn 'Kay' Morgan
1983 This Girl for Hire B.T. Brady
1984 Lace Judy Hale TV miniseries
1984 The House of God Cissy Anderson
1986 Nothing in Common Donna Mildred Martin
1989 Mother, Mother Kate Watson
1989 Second Sight Sister Elizabeth
1993 Dream Lover Elaine
1993 The Skateboard Kid Maggie
1994 Serial Mom Eugene Sutphin's Nurse Cameo
1994 Take Me Home Again Connie TV Movie
1995 She Stood Alone: The Tailhook Scandal Barbara Pope TV Movie
1995 Stolen Innocence Becky Sapp TV Movie
1995 Mixed Blessings Pilar Graham Coleman TV Movie
1996 Forgotten Sins Roberta 'Bobbie' Bradshaw TV Movie
1996 The Perfect Daughter Jill Michaelson TV Movie
1996 She Cried No Denise Connell TV Movie
1996 Christmas Every Day Molly Jackson TV Movie
1997 That Darn Cat Judy Randall
1998 Pecker Dr. Klompus
1998 Forever Love Gail TV Movie
1998 When It Clicks Betsy Cummings
2000 Diamond Men Katie Harnish
2002 Her Best Friend's Husband Mandy Roberts TV Movie
2008 Corporate Affairs Emily Parker
2008 Next of Kin Susan
2012 I Married Who? Elaine TV Movie


Year Title Role Notes
1977–1978 On Our Own Julia Peters Series regular, 22 episodes
1978 The Love Boat Laura Stanton Episode: "The Man Who Loved Women/A Different Girl/Oh, My Aching Brother"
1986 All Is Forgiven Paula Winters Russell Series regular, 9 episodes
1990–1991 Married People Elizabeth Meyers Series regular, 18 episodes
1992 Tales from the Crypt Erma Episode: "What's Cookin"
1994–1995 My So-Called Life Patty Chase Series regular, 19 episodes
1998 Touched by an Angel Mary Episode: "How Do You Spell Faith?"
1994, 1998 The Nanny Sarah Sheffield Episodes: "I Don't Remember Mama" and "The Wedding"
2002 That Was Then Mickey Glass Series regular, 4 episodes
2002 Good Morning, Miami Louise Messinger Episode: "If It's Not One Thing, It's a Mother"
2000, 2004 Frasier Kelly Kirkland Episodes: "Mary Christmas" and "Frasier-Lite"
2008 Boston Legal Penelope Kimball Episodes: "Mad About You" and "Made in China"
2009 Criminal Minds Sheila Hawkes Episode: "Zoe's Reprise"
2004, 2010 One Tree Hill Lydia James Recurring role, 5 episodes
2010 Castle Paula Casillas Episode: "He's Dead, She's Dead"
2012 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Patricia Lydecker Episode: "CSI Unplugged"
2012 Mad Men Catherine Orcutt Episode: "Far Away Places"
2013 Reckless Catherine Harrison TV pilot[4]
2013–2014 House of Lies Julianne Hotschragar Recurring role, 10 episodes
2014 NCIS U.S. Senator Denise O'Hara Episode: "Dressed to Kill"
2014 Reckless[5] Melinda Rayder Recurring role
2015 Zoo Dr. Elizabeth Oz Episode: "Fight or Flight"


  1. ^ "Bess Armstrong Biography (1953-)". 1953-12-11. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  2. ^,1316956&dq=afro-talks-with-bess-armstrong&hl=en
  3. ^ Bess Armstrong - Yahoo! Movies
  4. ^ "'House of Lies' Actress Bess Armstrong Joins ABC Drama Pilot 'Reckless'". TheWrap. 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2013-10-08). "T.I. Joins 'House Of Lies', 'The Blacklist', 'Reckless' & 'Teen Wolf' Add Recurring". Retrieved 2014-03-19. 

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