Blythe Danner

Blythe Danner

Her role in the off-Broadway play Summertree


Two-time Emmy Award-winning American actress Blythe Danner has created a
prolific career in stage, television and film since making her debut in the mid
1960s. On the small screen, the blonde performer is most well-known for playing
the off-kilter mother in the highly praised show “Huff” (2004-?), where she took
home two Emmy Awards. Danner received Emmy nods in the popular NBC sitcom “Will
& Grace” (2001-2006, played the recurring role of Will’s delicate blueblood
mom), We Were The Mulvaney’s (2002, starred as Corinne Mulvaney) and the CBS
film Back When We Were Grownups (2004, as single mother and grandmother Holmes
Davitch). Other memorable works include A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou
Gehrig Story (1978), Too Far To Go (1979) and Guilty Conscience (1985).

One of Hollywood’s most underrated and underused players, Danner is also a
regular face on the wide screen. She is probably most-famous to wide audiences
as the wife of Robert DeNiro in the blockbuster films Meet the Parents (2000)
and Meet the Fockers (2004), and received good reviews for playing the spouse of
Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides (1991). On stage, Danner made a name for
herself with the Tony-winning portrayal of Jill Tanner in the Broadway
“Butterflies Are Free” (1969). She also earned Tony nominations for her
performance in such plays as “The Miser” (1969), “Betrayal” (1980) and “A
Streetcar Named Desire” (1988).

Off camera, Danner is known for her long-term involvement in environmental
issues such as recycling and conservation. She has been actively worked with
INFORM, is on the Board of Environmental Activists and the Board of Directors of
the Environmental Media Association, and in 2002, won an EMA Board of Directors
Ongoing Commitment Award. The same year, Danner, along with her daughter Gwyneth
Paltrow, appeared on a series of PSAs promoting use of alternative energy
sources and alternative fuel vehicles.

On a more personal note, Danner is the widow of producer/writer Bruce Paltrow,
with whom she had lived from 1969 until his death in 2002. She has two children,
director Jake Paltrow, and prominent screen beauty Gwyneth Paltrow. With her
daughter, Danner has worked together in numerous productions, including 2003’s
film Sylvia. She is also aunt to actresses Katherine Moennig and Hillary Danner,
and the sister-in-law of opera director Dorothy Danner, through her actor/opera
singer brother, Harry B. Danner.


Childhood and Family:

Blythe Katherine Danner was born on February 3, 1943, in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, to a Quaker family of part Pennsylvania Dutch lineage. The
daughter of bank executive has two brothers, Harry B. Danner, an actor/opera
singer, and William H. Moenning III, a violin expert (half-brother).

Raised in a community on Philadelphia’s Main Line, Blythe attended the private
George School, in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and then spent part of
1961 as a foreign exchange music student in Germany. She returned to the US to
attend Bard College. During the summer, Blythe sang soprano with a jazz group at
Baggy Pants in Stowe, Vermont. She graduated in 1965, and holds three honorary
doctorates of fine arts from Bard, Hobart, and Williams College.

On December 14, 1969, Blythe married writer-producer Bruce Paltrow, who died on
October 2, 2002 in Rome, Italy, from complications of pneumonia while losing his
battle with throat cancer. She is the mother of Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth
Paltrow (born on September 28, 1972 in Los Angeles, California) and director
Jake Paltrow (born on September 26, 1975).

Butterflies Are Free


Before acting, Blythe Danner was interested in music and spent part of 1961 as
an exchanged musical student at Berlin and sang with a jazz group in Vermont
after returning to America. Following college graduation in 1965, she joined the
Theatre Company of Boston for a season and made her professional stage debut in
“The Glass Menagerie” (1965), playing Laura. Her New York City debut arrived in
the next year with the troupe’s vaudeville “The Infantry” which was staged in
off-Broadway. She also became a member of the Trinity Square Repertory Company
(now Trinity Repertory Company) in Providence, RI.

Her stage work entered a new phase when Danner started to gain fame with her
roles in the Lincoln Center productions “Summertime” (1968) and “The Miser”
(1969). The latter even brought her a Theatre World. She gained even more
attention in the following year when she took home a Tony for Best Supporting
Actress for playing Jill Tanner, the free-spirited divorcee who schemes a blind
neighbor, in her Broadway debut, “Butterflies Are Free” (1969).

Danner debuted on the small screen with a one-episodic role in “Day Tripper,”
1968’s episode of the ABC series “N.Y.P.D.” and went on to play a small part in
the NBC version of the Broadway musical George M! (1970). The following year,
she had a feature role in the ABC movie Dr. Cook’s Garden, starring Bing Crosby.
After television film The Scarecrow (1972), Danner hit the big screen for the
first time with a costarring role opposite accomplished actor Alan Alda in
drama/horror film To Kill a Clown (1972) before showing her singing talent in
the hit musical 1776 (1972), opposite Ken Howard. Danner landed the role of
Amanda Bonner in the short-lived sitcom “Adam’s Rib” (1973).

In 1974, Danner was cast in the title role of a woman torn between two friends
in director Sydney Lumet’s Lovin’ Molly, an undervalued adaptation of a novel by
Larry McMurtry, and finely portrayed Zelda Fitzgerald in the made-for-TV film F.
Scott Fitzgerald and ‘The Last of the Belles.’ The same year, she also started
continuing partnership with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she played
Nina in Chekhov’s “The Seagull” (1974) and Alma Winemiller in “Eccentricities of
a Nightingale” (1975), both were filmed and broadcast on public television’s
“Theater in America.”

Danner portrayed a libretto girl falling in love with a cowboy hero (Jeff
Bridges) in the likable comedy Hearts of the West (1975), rejoined Alan Alda in
a notable episode of “M*A*S*H*” (1976) and starred as Tracy Ballard, with Peter
Fonda, in the Richard T. Heffron-helmed sci-fi/ thriller sequel Futureworld
(1976). She won an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best
Actress for work in the latter. Despite her magnificent portrayal of the
long-suffering wife of Robert Duvall in the film The Great Santini (1979),
Danner proved more successful on the small screen for the rest of the decade.
She excelled as the baseball player’s wife, Eleanor Gehrig, in the NBC
biographical drama A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story (1978),
opposite Edward Herrmann, and as Michael Moriarty’s WASPish spouse in the
superior Too Far To Go (1979), adapted from John Updike’s short stories.

Returning to Broadway in 1980, Danner scored a success by taking home a Tony
nomination for her role as the disloyal wife in Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal,”
along side Raul Julia and Roy Scheider. She segued on the small screen and the
big one with roles in the ABC miniseries “Inside the Third Reich” (1982, as
German architect Albert Speer’s wife), Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues
(1984, TV, as Annie Sullivan), Guilty Conscience (1985, TV, nicely playing
Anthony Hopkins’ wife), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986, portrayed the matriarch of
a Jewish family) and Woody Allen’s Another Woman (1988). She also portrayed
Hillary Tattinger, the co-owner of a NYC restaurant, in the NBC drama series
“Tattingers”/“Nick & Hillary” (1989). During 1987-1988, Danner resurfaced on the
stage by playing one of Richard Chamberlain’s spouses in a 1987 Broadway revival
of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” giving a Tony-nominating performance of
Blanche Du Bois in the revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1988) and starring
with Kevin Kline in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s summer production of
“Much Ado About Nothing.”

Danner kept on her busy work in the 1990s. After HBO drama Judgment, Woody
Allen’s Alice and the Merchant Ivory production Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (all 1990),
she offered a good portrayal of Nick Nolte’s wife in The Prince of Tides (1991).
The same year, she also collaborated with her daughter, actress Gwyneth Paltrow
on stage at Williamstown in “Picnic.” She was then seen in Woody Allen’s
Husbands and Wives (1992, as the mother of Juliette Lewis), NBC’s miniseries
“Cruel Doubt” (1992, as Gwyneth’s on screen mother), Williamstown production of
“The Seagull” (1994, again with Gwyneth), the Sundance-screened The Myth of
Fingerprints (1997, with Roy Scheider) and Mad City (1997, opposite John
Travolta). She also had a cameo role in The X-Files (1998), starred as a woman
who fortuitously murdered her daughter in The Farmhouse (1998), provided the
voice of Mrs. Murphy in Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (1998, TV) and
oddly portrayed the mother of Kate Capshaw in the romantic comedy The Love
Letter (1999).

In the new millennium, Danner scored a hit as Robert DeNiro’s WASPish wife, Dina
Byrnes, in successful comedy Meet the Parents (2000), a role she reprised for
2004’s sequel Meet the Fockers. In 2001, she could be seen as Cameron Diaz and
Jordana Brewster’s mother in The Invisible Circus and played Phyllis in the
all-star Broadway revival of “Follies,” where she again received a Tony nod.
Still in 2001, Danner landed the recurring role of Marilyn Truman, Will’s
breakable blueblood mother, in the hit NBC sitcom “Will & Grace,” a job she
retained until 2006. Delivering a bright performance, Danner received a 2005
Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. In the
Lifetime drama We Were The Mulvaney’s (2002), Danner also received an Emmy nod,
this time for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Movie for her role as Corinne

After Sylvia (2003, again with her daughter Gwyneth), Danner starred as Rebecca
Holmes Davitch, a 53-year-old single mother and grandmother with a vibrant
family, in the CBS film Back When We Were Grownups (2004), a role that brought
her an Emmy and a Golden Globe nominations. However, it was her role as Izzy
Huffstodt, off-kilter mother of psychiatrist Craig ‘Huff’ Huffstodt (Hank Azaria)
on the acclaimed series “Huff” (2004-?) that won the actress a number of
accolades, including two consecutive Emmy Awards in 2005 and 2006 for Best
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Recently appearing as Anna in director Tony Goldwyn’s comedy/drama The Last Kiss
(2006), starring Zach Braff and Jacinda Barrett, Danner is set to costar with
Larry Bryggman in writer/director Rick Allen’s comedy ‘Side by Each’ (2007) and
appear as a grandma in the thriller Walk Two Moons (2007).


Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Huff, 2006
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Huff, 2005
Sonoma Valley Film Festival: Special career-achievement, 2004
Lucy: Women in Film, 2004
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Golden Scroll Best
Actress, Futureworld, 1977
Tony: Best Supporting Actress, Butterflies Are Free, 1970
Theatre World: “The Mise,” 1969

Uncle Bill is a violin maker. So is my brother Bill, who is actually my half-brother. Uncle Bill was the twelfth or thirteenth generation of old German violin makers in his family. Each generation had to go back to Europe to study with the old masters.More Blythe Danner quotes [06/24/2006 12:06:00]
She has my husband's wonderful family cheekbones, those wonderful movie star cheekbones. She's actually the one who started me doing the macrobiotic diet which is very helpful. I find I could fly more easily without all that milk in my sinuses.More Blythe Danner quotes [06/24/2006 12:06:00]
Acting is really only part of my life. I'm addicted to it.More Blythe Danner quotes [06/24/2006 12:06:00]
My father is a banker.More Blythe Danner quotes [06/24/2006 12:06:00]
I think my husband Bruce Paltrow is up there, stirring this up for me, ... He's saying, 'Get the old gal to work.'More Blythe Danner quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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