“Nobody gets paid $20 million a picture just for the talent. You sell a little part of yourself too.” Gail O'Grady
First gaining attention in a string of television commercials for Diet Pepsi, actress Gail O'Grady is best recognized for playing the supporting role of Donna on the hit ABC series “NYPD Blue,” a role she played from 1993 to 1996. She was handed three Emmy nominations, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Satellite nomination for her work on the show. The Detroit native jointly picked up a nomination for Most Popular Mom & Pop in a Television Series at the 2004 Young Artist Awards thanks to her portrayal of Helen Pryor on “American Dreams” (NBC, 2002-2005). O'Grady also played roles on “Hot Properties” (2005) and “Hidden Palms” (2007), recurring roles in “Two and a Half Men” (2006), “Boston Legal” (2007) and “Desperate Housewives” (2008) and guest starred in the television series “Murder, She Wrote,” “Ally McBeal,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Ghost Whisperer.” She has starred in a number of television films too, including “The Hit Man” (1991), “Nothing Lasts Forever” (1995), “Two Voices” (1997), “Two of Hearts” (1999), “Sex & the Single Mom” (2003), “More Sex & the Single Mom” (2005), “Mayday” (2005), “While the Children Sleep” (2007) and “Living Out Loud” (2009). O'Grady's film credits include “She's Having a Baby” (1988), “Blackout” (1988), “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” (1999), “The Sure Hand of God” (2004), “An American Carol” (2008), “The House That Jack Built” (2009) and “Circle” (2010).
O'Grady has been married and divorced six times. She is the mother of Michael Colton O'Grady, who was born in 2004. She stated, “Having a child, it's everything. Whatever people tell you about having children, until you have one, you don't get it. It changes your life in every way.” Gail O'Grady
One of People Magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1996), O'Grady mentions U2 as her favorite band and “The Sound of Music,” “The Last of the Mohicans” and “West Side Story” as her favorite love movies. She is an animal activist and collects old-fashion perfume bottles.
Childhood and Family:
Gail Ann O'Grady was born on January 23, 1963, in Detroit, Michigan, to Jan and Jim, a financial planner. She was raised in an English/Irish/Italian family in Wheaton, Illinois, and graduated from Wheaton North High School in Wheaton in 1981. She moved to Los Angeles in 1986 to launch a career in show business.
Shortly after her high school graduation, Gail married her high school boyfriend Richard Dasco, but they divorced in 1983. She next married Swiss watch mogul Severin Wunderman in 1987, but their marriage lasted only four months. She tied the knot with actor Jeffrey Byron (born on November 28, 1955) on December 9, 1990, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1991. She was then married to Steve Fenton from August 12, 1995, to 1996 and Anthony J. Pellegrino from 1998 to 2000. She married her sixth husband, John Stamatakis, in June 2004. They divorced in 2008. Gail delivered her first child, son Michael Colton O'Grady, on May 22, 2004. She named the baby after her deceased brother.
Gail O'Grady made her television debut on a 1986 episode of the hit courtroom drama “Matlock” called “The Sister,” a role she would later reprise in the 1990 episode “The Kidnapper.” She also made her big screen debut in 1986 with the John Landis comedy “Three Amigos,” but her part ended up on the cutting room floor. The next year, she appeared in a bit part in the horror film “Werewolf” (1987), followed by a small role in the two part thriller “Billionaire Boys Club” (NBC, 1987), which starred Judd Nelson and Fredric Lehne. O'Grady's first brush with fame arrived when she appeared with Michael J. Fox in a series of Diet Pepsi commercials in 1987.
In 1988, O'Grady landed a small role in “She's Having a Baby,” a romantic movie written and directed by John Hughes that starred Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern. She won her first feature lead that same year in “Blackout,” a thriller directed by Doug Adams and written by Laura Ferguson and Joseph Stefano. She returned in 1990 with a costarring role in Robert Kaylor's comedy “Nobody's Perfect,” opposite Chad Lowe. Meanwhile on the small screen, she appeared in episodes of “In the Heat of the Night” (1988), “China Beach” (1988), “The Adventure of Superboy” (1989), “Cheers” (1990), “Anything But Love” (1990) and “Hardball” (1990). She also portrayed Rebecca Bailey in the Emmy Award winning TV miniseries “People Like Us” (1990), supported Jeff Fahey in the NBC film “Parker Kane” (1990) and starred as Sara in ABC's “The Hit Man” (1991), her first lead role in a TV movie.
O'Grady continued to land guest spots on TV series, including “Murder, She Wrote” (1992), “Time Trax” (1993), “Designing Women” (2 episodes, 1993) and “Silk Stalkings” (1993) and played the supporting role of Jackie in the independent film “Spellcaster” (1992) before scoring a big break in 1993 when she joined the cast of the popular series “NYPD Blue.” In the series, she appeared in 57 episodes during the first three seasons and earned three consecutive Emmy nominations in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1994-1996) for her performance. The role also brought her a 1995 Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and two more SAG nominations in the same category. She also received a 1997 Golden Satellite nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. O’Grady left the show in 1996 to pursue other opportunities but would return in an episode in 1999 called “Mister Roberts.”
O'Grady continued to work on television with a guest appearance in “Burke's Law” (1994) and roles in the television films “The Stood Alone: The Tailhook Scandal” (1995), “Trial by Fire” (1995) and “Nothing Lasts Forever” (1995). After leaving “NYPD Blue,” she made a pilot for her own sitcom called “The Gail O'Grady Project” (1996), but the show was not picked up by the networks. She next costarred with Damon Wayans, Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd in the Tom DeCerchio directed comedy feature “Celtic Pride” (1996) and with Bette Midler, Dennis Farina and Paula Marshall in Carl Reiner's “That Old Feeling” (1997). She also acted in various TV movies during 1997, including “The Three Lives of Karen,” “Two Voices,” “Every 9 Seconds” and “Medusa's Child.” In 1999, she played the supporting role of Claire in “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” a successful comedy starring and written by Rob Schneider that was directed by Mike Mitchell. She was then cast as Mattie Rigsbee’s (played by Ellen Burstyn) daughter, Elaine, in the coming of age drama “Walking Across Egypt,” which was adapted from Clyde Edgerton's novel of the same name, and starred as a veterinarian named Molly Saunders in the Fox romantic comedy “Two of Hearts,” opposite Rob Stewart, Corbin Bernsen and Marla Maples.
Entering the new millennium, O'Grady portrayed Olivia Wise in the independent thriller “Sleep Easy, Hutch Rimes,” opposite Steven Weber and Swoosie Kurtz, Susan Miller in Lifetime's movie “Another Woman's Husband,” Maggie Stanley in the VH-1 movie “Out of Sync” (all 2000) and Theresa Foley in the thriller “Hostage Negotiator” (2001), opposite Michael Bowen. She also made a memorable guest appearance as Helena Fisher in the “Ally McBeal” episode “Home Again” (2001).
O'Grady returned to series television as a regular when she portrayed the wife of John Pryor (played by Tom Verica) in the NBC series “American Dreams,” created by Jonathan Prince. The show ran from September 29, 2002, to March 30, 2005, and she was nominated for a 2004 Young Artist Award for Most Popular Mom & Pop in a Television Series, which she shared with Tom Verica. During the show's run, O'Grady supported Bruce Boxleitner, Lorenzo Lamas and Barry Corbin in the western television film “Hope Ranch” (2002), played the mother of Kimberly Williams-Paisley in the made for TV film “Lucky 7” (2003) and starred as Jess Gradwell in Lifetime's movies “Sex & the Single Mom” (2003) and “More Sex & the Single Mom” (2005). She also worked in two films in 2004 titled “The Sure Hand of God” (as Molly Bowser) and “Tricks” (as Jane).
After the demise of “American Dreams,” O'Grady starred as Ava Summerlin in the ABC comedy series “Hot Properties,” alongside Nicole Sullivan, Sofía Vergara and Christina Moore. The show ran for 13 episodes from October to December 2005. She also costarred with Aidan Quinn, Dean Cain, Charles Dutton, Michael Murphy and Kelly Hu in a television movie adaptation of “Mayday” (CBS, 2005). After appearing as Mandi in two episodes of “Two and a Half Men” (2006), she was cast as Karen Hardy in the Kevin Williamson short lived series “Hidden Palms.” In August, 2007, she appeared in an episode of “Monk” called “Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees.” It was followed by starring roles in the television films “While the Children Sleep” (2007, as Meghan Eastman) and “All I Want for Christmas” (2007, as Sarah Armstrong) and guest spots in “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2007, as Mrs. Towne), “Las Vegas” (2007, as Erin Hudson) and “Cane” (2007, as Senator Finch). From February to November 2007, she played the role of Judge Gloria Weldon on the series “Boston Legal” (7 episodes).
In 2008, O'Grady played the recurring role of Anne Schilling in four episodes of the ABC hit series “Desperate Housewives.” The same year, she appeared in the pilot of “The Mentalist,” played Dr. Rachel Marsh in the episode “And How Does That Make You Kill” of “CSI: Miami” and was featured as Jane Wagstaffe in “An American Carol,” a comedy directed by David Zucker. 2009 saw roles in the films “Empire State” (TV), “The House That Jack Built” and “Living Out Loud” (TV) and episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “True Jackson, VP” and “CSI: NY.”
Recently, O'Grady starred as Dr. Green in the horror film “Circle” (2010) for director Michael W. Watkins and writer Brad Tiemann. Costars of the film included Silas Weir Mitchell, America Olivo, Jason Thompson and Michael DeLuise. She also appeared as Kerry in an episode of “The Forgotten” called “My John” (2010) and will portray Wanda Perkins in the upcoming series “Hellcats,” which stars Alyson Michalka, Ashley Tisdale and Matt Barr. The show is set to premiere on The CW on September 8, 2010.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, “NYPD Blue,” 1995