Veronica Cartwright- Biography

About Veronica Cartwright

Accomplished character actress Veronica Cartwright has been particularly adept at-- and oft typecast as--hard-nosed, even nasty or bitchy, characters, whether they be mothers of career women. Born in England, she began acting as a young girl after her family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s. During that decade, Cartwright toiled in guest appearances and smaller roles while her younger sister Angela earned her place as a trivia question by playing Danny Thomas' daughter on "Make Room For Daddy". Veronica landed good feature roles, however, ranging from her debut in "In Love and War" (1958) to the kleptomaniac forced to lie about her teachers in William Wyler's "The Children's Hour" (1961). In 1963, she was also the daughter of the family terrorized by Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and Henry Fonda's child in "Spencer's Mountain". Although her sister had become the TV regular, from 1959, Cartwright had the recurring role of the bullying Violet Rutherford (who gave Theodore his first kiss) on ABC's "Leave It to Beaver" and she spent two seasons (1964-66) as the frontiersman's daughter Jemima, on the NBC series "Daniel Boone".

Like many child performers, Cartwright hit an awkward stage and the acting jobs were not forthcoming. By the end of the 60s, her career had all but petered out so she returned to her native Britain. After nearly a decade, with only one feature appearance (in the dreadful "Inserts" 1975), Cartwright returned to the USA and resumed her acting career with a fresh outlook. Beginning slowly, she made a guest appearance on an episode of "Serpico" (NBC, 1976). Jack Nicholson cast her as his ex-lover in his directorial debut, "Goin' South" (1978). Cartwright then appeared in back-to-back sci-fi classics: Philip Kaufman's remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978) and Ridley Scott's "Alien" (1979). During the 80s, she continued to find interesting roles, notably as the shrill wife of astronaut Gus Grissom furious she can't meet Jackie Kennedy after his space capsule is lost on his return in Kaufman's "The Right Stuff" (1983) and as the town harpy who denounces "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987). By the 90s, however, she could be seen in the unnecessary horror sequel "Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance" (1994) and as the grand dame of a New Orleans family terrorized in "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" (1995).

In the 80s, her small screen roles improved. She was wife to cult leader Jim Jones in "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones" (CBS, 1980) and portrayed Ethel Kennedy in the 1985 CBS miniseries "Robert Kennedy and His Times". Cartwright was a reporter covering the presidential campaign in Robert Altman's spoof of American politics "Tanner '88" (HBO, 1988). The actress had her best exposure in the recurring role of prosecuting attorney Margaret Flanaghan in the NBC legal drama "L.A. Law" from 1989-1992. In particular, she was the assistant D.A. who came head-to-head with Michael Kuzak (Harry Hamlin) during the prosecution of Earl Williams (Carl Lumbly), a college professor who is accused of murdering a student he was having an affair with, but was, in fact, found to be not guilty. Several years before the nation got to see Marcia Clark prosecute O J Simpson, they saw Cartwright do anything to get her conviction, including, as it turned out, subvert the law. Cartwright is also remembered as a mother in denial that her daughter was being sexually abused by her husband in "Abby, My Love", a 1991 "CBS Schoolbreak Special". She was the blindly ambitious wife of a vice president who would do anything to become First Lady in the USA Network movie "Hitler's Daughter" (1990) and a local society woman with lustful impulses in the USA Network original "Dead in the Water" (1991). During the 1996-1997 season, Cartwright made several appearances on "ER" (NBC) as the hard-edged mother of a teenager who wants to disconnect from his life support, a role for which she earned an Emmy nomination as Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

Partners

Husband

Richard Compton. Married from 1982 until his death in August 2007

Husband

Stanley Goldstein. Married in 1976; divorced

Husband

Richard Gates. Married 1968; divorced 1972

Family

Sister

Angela Cartwright. Born in 1952; played Brigitta in the film, "The Sound of Music" (1965) and Penny Robinson in the CBS series "Lost in Space" from 1965-1968

Career Milestones

Family moved to Canada when Cartwright was three years old

1956

Moved to the USA at age six and soon after began appearing in TV commercials

1958

Made feature film debut in "In Love and War"

1959

Had recurring role as Violet Rutherford on "Leave It to Beaver" (ABC)

1961

Cast as one of the gossiping schoolgirls in "The Children's Hour"

1963

Appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds"

1963

Played a schizophrenic child in the episode "My Name Is Judith, I'm Lost, You See" on NBC's "Eleventh Hour"

1964

Appeared in last film for over a decade, "One Man's Way"

1964

Cast as daughter Jemima Boone in the first two seasons of NBC's "Daniel Boone"

1974

First feature in over a decade, "Inserts"

1978

Co-starred in the remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

1978

Initial screen collaboration with Jack Nicholson, "Goin' South"

1979

Cast as Lambert, the Nostromo's navigator, in Ridley Scott's "Alien"

1980

Played Marcy Jones the wife of the cult leader in the CBS miniseries, "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones"

1983

Played the wife of astronaut Gus Grissom in "The Right Stuff"

1985

Portayed Ethel Kennedy in the CBS miniseries "Robert Kennedy and His Times"

1986

Co-starred in the Disney film, "Flight of the Navigator"

1987

Re-teamed with Jack Nicholson in "The Witches of Eastwick," playing the conservative wife of the town's newspaper editor

1988

Played a reporter in several episodes of Robert Altman's HBO series "Tanner '88"

1989

Cast in a recurring role as prosecutor Margaret Flanagan on the NBC drama "L.A. Law"

1997

Appeared as the mother of a terminally ill son in two episodes of "ER" (NBC); earned Emmy Award nomination

1998

Had a recurring role as Cassandra Spender on "The X Files" (FOX); earned Emmy Award nominations in 1998 and 1999

1999

Played Jack's mother on an episode of NBC's "Will & Grace"

2001

Cast as Megan's mother in "Scary Movie 2"

2003

Played Mrs. McNerney (Pussy) in the romantic comedy "Just Married," which starred Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy

2004

Appeared in three episodes of HBO's "Six Feet Under"

2004

Played Alfred Kinsey's mother, Sara, in Bill Condon's "Kinsey" opposite Liam Neeson, who portrayed Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research

2005

Appeared in several episodes of the ABC series, "Invasion"

2007

Co-starred in the fourth remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," entitled "The Invasion"

2009

Cast in the short-lived ABC series, "Eastwick," based on the John Updike novel and 1987 feature film which she also starred