Six Feet Under
“I guess you’re happy if you have some kind of balance in you. I’m a human being. I have days when I feel paralyzed, days when I feel like a slug. Then I have days when I have good energy, I've read the newspaper and I've done different things.” Frances Conroy
A darling of famous playwright Arthur Miller, who has utilized her in four of his works, veteran stage actress Frances Conroy is acknowledged for her consistently stupendous performances in mostly supporting roles. The pale, blue-eyed American performer has made a name for herself on stage with impressive performances in such productions as “Othello” (1979), “The Secret Rapture” (1989), “he Last Yankee” (1992) and “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan” (2000) that earned her a 1990 Drama Desk Award, a 1993 Obie Award as well as a 2000 Tony nomination.
In a more recent time, however, Conroy is better known as one of the stars of the television drama series “Six Feet Under” (HBO, 2001-2005). As family matriarch Ruth Fisher, Conroy’s performance was critically applauded, and she was handed a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards as well as four Emmy nominations. Her television victory resulted in silver screen roles as well, including performances in Catwoman (2004), The Aviator (2004), Broken Flowers (2005) and Shopgirl (2005).
Recently appearing in Neil Labute’s The Wicker Man (2006) and the comedy film Ira and Abby (2006), the Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning actress is set to support Fairuza Balk and Peter Bogdanovich for the forthcoming Humboldt County (2007).
Childhood and Family:
A native of Monroe, Georgia, Frances Conroy was born on November 13, 1953. She is of Latvian and Irish lineage. Known by family and close friends as Franny, she was raised in Long Island, New York. She studied acting at The Neigborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and The Juilliard School in New York City.
Frannny has been married to actor Jan Munroe since 1992.
The Ride Down Mt. Morgan
Trained in drama at NYC’s prominent Neighborhood Playhouse and Juilliard School, Georgia-born Frances Conroy made her NYC stage in New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Measure for Measure” in 1976. As a member of The Acting Company, she essayed the role of Cordelia in the company’s production of “King Lear” at American Place Theatre the next year, and in 1979 she received praise for her role as Desdemona on NYSF production of “Othello,” opposite Raul Julia, Richard Dreyfuss and John Heard. The same year, Conroy also landed her first film role, as a Shakespearean Actress, in the Woody Allen classic Manhattan.
1980 saw the actress make her Broadway debut in Edward Albee’s short-lived “The Lady from Dubuque,” playing Jo. She continued to have a small part in “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1980) at the Public Theatre and then departed the Big Apple for two years for roles in productions of “Winterset” (1980) at the Yale Repertory Theatre in Connecticut and “The Tempest” (1981) at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She returned to the Public Theater in 1982 as Julia in “Zastrozzi,” which was followed by a string of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway appearances as well as a one-year tenure as Louisa May Alcott in the Playwrights’ Horizons Theatre production of “Romance Language” (1984). Conroy reprised her role of Louisa May Alcott the following year at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and remained there after she finished the run, where she appeared in regional productions of “Mrs. California” (1985) and “The House of the Blue Leaves” (1987). It was during this same period that the slender red-haired actress also did some film and TV acting, undertaking small roles in the movie Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987), starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Gregory Peck, and television films like LBJ: The Early Years, as well as guest starring in such series as “Hill Street Blues” (1986), “Newhart” (1986) and “Crime Story” (1987).
Conroy returned to New York stage in 1987 when she costarred in “Man and Superman” at the Roundabout Theatre and the following year played the role of Mrs. Gibbs in the Broadway production of “Our Town,” a part she reprised for PBS production a year later. She picked up her first Drama Desk for her bright portrayal of the ruthless Conservative politician in David Hare’s “The Secret Rapture” (1989). Meanwhile, the actress could be seen in such films as Rocket Gibraltar (1988, opposite Burt Lancaster and Kevin Spacey), and Woody Allen’s Another Woman (1988) and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). She later made appearances in the films Scent of a Woman (1992, starred Al Pacino) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan).
The accomplished stage performer began her affiliation with legendary playwright Arthur Miller in 1992, when she had a role in his Off-Broadway play “The Last Yankee,” in which Conroy won a 1993 Obie for her performance. The two rejoined for the 1994 Broadway “Broken Glass,” where Conroy was cast as Margaret Hyman, and the 1996 film version of The Crucible, where Miller wrote the screenplay. In between, Conroy found herself acting in the drama film Angela, directed by Miller’s daughter, Rebecca. The actress went on to appear in the Broadway production of “The Little Foxes” (1997) and the NYSF production of “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1998, opposite John Goodman) before working again with Miller the next year for Off-Broadway play “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan,” replacing Blythe Danner, at the Public Theater. When the play was re-mounted on Broadway two years later, the actress was invited to reprise her role and nabbed a Tony nomination for her efforts.
Conroy’s biggest breakthrough, however, arrived a year later when she won the costarring role of Ruth Fisher on the HBO original drama series “Six Feet Under,” opposite Peter Krauseand Michael C. Hall. During her tenure as the somewhat neurotic, meaning-well, mentally detached mother from 2001 to 2005, she picked up a 2004 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama and three Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (2004) and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2004, 2003). She also earned many nominations, including four Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
After the success, Conroy was offered numerous interesting, more prominent parts in movies like Die, Mommie, Die! (2003), Catwoman (2004, as Ophelia Powers), The Aviator (2004), Broken Flowers (2005) and Shopgirl (2005, starred Claire Danes and Steve Martin). In 2006, she was cast as Dr. Moss in Neil Labute’s remake of the 70s horror film The Wicker Man and appeared with Jason Alexander in the comedy film Ira and Abby. The same year, after a six-year absence, Conroy returned to the theater in David Greig’s production of “Pyrenees” at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles.
The 54-year-old player will costar with Fairuza Balk and Peter Bogdanovich in the upcoming film Humboldt County (2007), playing Rosie.