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|Also Known As:||Lesley Warren,Lesley Warren||Died:|
|Born:||August 16, 1946||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||New York City, New York, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor singer dancer|
A greatly underutilized talent in features, this stage-trained actress has shone in numerous TV-movies, miniseries and music-oriented specials. America first discovered Lesley Ann Warren as a fresh-faced ingenue; she was a radiant "Cinderella" (CBS, 1966) in the now classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical TV special. The next year, Warren made her feature debut in "The Happiest Millionaire," a Disney musical starring Fred MacMurray. She followed up with another Disney songfest, "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band" (1968), in which she was the love interest of John Davidson. Warren then turned her attention to the small screen, appearing in numerous TV-movies, busted pilots, miniseries and guest spots. Whereas feature assignments were few and far between--only three between 1968 and 1982--TV realized Warren's potential as a lead.
Warren could ennoble some dubious material. She brought conviction, toughness and sympathy to her portrayals of B-girls, struggling moms, and plucky careerists. Her many miniseries credits include portraying a plucky poor girl who becomes a high class madam in "Harold Robbins' '79 Park Avenue'" (NBC, 1977), the mistress of a plantation romanced by a Yankee in "Beaulah Land" (NBC, 1980) and a Jewish immigrant in "Evergreen" (NBC, 1985). In 1986's "A Fight for Jenny," she was a woman embroiled in a custody battle due to her relationship with a black man. Despite her roots as an affluent Jewish-American from New York City, Warren has often played Southern woman as in "Baja Oklahoma" (HBO, 1988), and "Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story" (ABC, 1992). Other TV-movies have had such provocative titles as "Portrait of a Stripper" (CBS, 1979) and "Portrait of a Showgirl" (CBS, 1982).
Warren's feature career was revived after an Oscar-nominated turn as the bleached blonde moll of a gangster (James Garner) in Blake Edwards' "Victor/Victoria" (1982). Her Norma Cassidy evoked memories of both Jean Harlow (for her sultry presence) and Jean Hagen's "Singing in the Rain" character (for her whiny 'Noo Yawk' accent). But whatever career momentum Warren might have gained was dissipated with less than stellar follow-up roles. She appeared in the disastrous "A Night in Heaven" (1993) as a neglected wife who embarks on an affair with a male stripper (Christopher Atkins). She fared slightly better in two Alan Rudolph films, "Choose Me" and "Songwriter" (both 1984), although she was wasted as the female lead in Mel Brooks' "Life Stinks" (1991) and as the manager of a C&W singer in "Pure Country" (1992). Warren did win critical admiration for her sexy mother of a returning Korean War veteran in "Going All the Way" (1997).
Over the next several years, Warren continued to take on a wide range of roles, including playing an aging actress in Steven Soderbergh's film "The Limey" and the artful "Twin Falls, Idaho" (both 1999). She also made somewhat frequent appearances on television, including a recurring stint on "Will & Grace" as the loelorn mistress of Will's father (Syndey Pollack) beginning in 2001, and had multiple appearances on the NBC crime drama "Crossing Jordan." In 2002, Warren had a supporting role as Maggie Gyllenhaal's mother in the award winning film "Secretary." In 2005 she joined Bob Newhart for a multiepisode stint on "Despearte Housewives," in which she played Sophie, the mother of Susan Meyer (Teri Hatcher).
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