Kristy McNichol, circa 1977
|Born||Christina Ann McNichol
September 11, 1962
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Partner(s)||Martie Allen (1991–present)|
Christina Ann "Kristy" McNichol (born September 11, 1962) is an American actress and singer.
McNichol is known for her roles as Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence on the television drama series Family and as Barbara Weston on the sitcom Empty Nest. She is also the sister of former child actor Jimmy McNichol. McNichol retired from acting when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1992.
Early life and career
McNichol was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Carolyn McNichol Lucas, a business manager and actress, and James Vincent "Jim" McNichol Sr., a carpenter. She has two brothers from that marriage, Thomas McNichol and James Vincent "Jimmy" McNichol Jr. Her parents divorced when she was three years old. When McNichol was 19, her mother married her much younger German boyfriend Siegfried Lucas. In the same year Lucas and McNichol's mother adopted McNichol's sister Jennifer Lucas.
McNichol appeared with her brother Jimmy in commercials and later, on her own, in guest appearances on such other series as Starsky and Hutch, The Bionic Woman, Love American Style and The Love Boat, thanks to family friend Desi Arnaz. Her first stint as a series regular came in the role of Patricia Apple in the short-lived CBS television series Apple's Way (1974).
In 1976, McNichol was cast as Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence in the television drama series Family (1976–80), for which she earned two Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series (1977 and 1979). Many actors and actresses guest-starred on the show, including Helen Hunt, Michael J. Fox and Leif Garrett. Family, produced by Aaron Spelling, was considered a breakthrough for television drama that dealt with "real life" issues. 
In December 1977, McNichol appeared on The Carpenters at Christmas TV special, performing several musical numbers with the duo. In 1978, McNichol and her brother Jimmy made their own foray into music, recording an album, Kristy & Jimmy McNichol, for RCA Records. The album included the single "He's So Fine" (a cover of The Chiffons' 1963 hit), which peaked at #70 on the Billboard chart. The McNichols promoted the album at New York's Studio 54 discothèque, with such other big-name celebrities in attendance as Brooke Shields. In December 1978, McNichol would appear in another Carpenters' holiday special, The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait, this time with Jimmy.
By this time, McNichol was one of the biggest teen stars of the era and appeared on various talk shows, including The Mike Douglas Show and Dinah!, as well as making several appearances on Battle of the Network Stars and other celebrity-based shows. Also in 1978, she starred in the acclaimed made-for-television film adaptation of Bette Greene's Summer of My German Soldier.
McNichol began her feature film career in the Burt Reynolds comedy The End in 1978. She later co-starred with Tatum O'Neal, Matt Dillon, and Cynthia Nixon in the hit coming of age movie, Little Darlings, in 1980. Her critically acclaimed performance in that film was considered to be of Academy Award caliber by many reviewers. She appeared with Dennis Quaid and Mark Hamill in The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1981), for which, at age 19, she received an unprecedented six-figure salary. The same year, she co-starred in Neil Simon's Only When I Laugh, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
By 1982 McNichol's fortunes began to decline. She starred in the multi-million-dollar-budget musical spoof The Pirate Movie alongside Christopher Atkins, but the film was a box-office failure. Later that year, McNichol failed to return to the set of Just The Way You Are after the production had halted for Christmas vacation. By this time, unfounded rumors of McNichol's alleged drug use were rife and it was often speculated to be the cause of her increasingly problematic behavior, which was later attributed to bipolar disorder. Although McNichol eventually completed the film, her reputation was severely damaged by the incident. Just the Way You Are underperformed at the box office, despite a healthy opening weekend. After one more unsuccessful starring vehicle, 1986's Dream Lover, McNichol was subsequently offered only B-film titles and television movies. She supported lead actress Susan Sarandon in the 1986 TV movie Women of Valor, about American nurses incarcerated in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II, and also appeared in two theatrical films in 1988: You Can't Hurry Love and Two Moon Junction.
In 1988, McNichol played Barbara Weston on the NBC sitcom Empty Nest, a spin-off of The Golden Girls, alongside Richard Mulligan and Dinah Manoff. But McNichol's attendance once again became a problem, and she left the series in 1992 when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She returned to the series for its final episode in 1995, her last screen appearance as an actress to date, though she went on to voice characters in the animated TV series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997) and Invasion America (1998).
The death of her former lover, Elisabeth Brooks, from cancer in 1997 was a great blow to McNichol, who had had a near-death experience herself while scuba diving in Hawaii in 1992.
In March 1999, McNichol was the subject of an episodes of E! True Hollywood Story, in which she spoke candidly about her career, alleged drug problems, and her mental health problems. In June 2001, she stated:
"A lot of people have wondered what I've been up to. I retired from my career after 24 years. My feeling was that it was time to play my biggest part – myself! I must say that it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. So many fans are disappointed that I'm not currently acting; however, some may not realize that the process I'm in at this time is necessary and vital for my personal happiness and well-being."
After her retirement from the screen, McNichol taught acting at a private school in Los Angeles and devoted much of her time to charity work.
On January 6, 2012, McNichol publicly announced she is a lesbian, and had been living with her partner, Martie Allen, for 20 years. She stated she chose to come out to help younger gay women deal with bullying.
|1973||Love, American Style||Steffi||Segment: "Love and the Unsteady Steady"|
|1974||Apple's Way||Rachel||Episode: "The Lamb"|
|1974-1975||Apple's Way||Patricia Apple||14 episodes|
|1975||ABC Afterschool Special||Jenna McPhail||Episode: "Fawn Story"|
|1976||ABC Afterschool Special||Nina Beckwith||Episode: "Me and Dad's New Wife"|
|1976||Starsky and Hutch||Meg||Episode: "The Hostages"|
|1976||Sara||Unknown||Episode: "Grandpa's Girl"|
|1976||Bionic Woman, TheThe Bionic Woman||Amanda Cory||Episode: "The Ghost Hunter"|
|1976||Starsky and Hutch||Molly Edwards||Episode: "Little Lost Girl"|
|1976-1980||Family||Lilitia 'Buddy' Lawrence||86 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1977, 1979)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
|1977 - Sha Na Na - Guest - Played girl scout and skateboared around the street and tried to sell girl scout cookies to SNN while they sang "See You in September".||1977||The Love Boat||Linda Morley||TV movie|
|1977||Black Sunday||Unknown||Scenes deleted|
|1977||Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat||Kelly||Episode: "Graham and Kelly"|
|1977||ABC Afterschool Special||Carlie Higgins||Episode: "The Pinballs"|
|1978||Starsky and Hutch||Joey Carston||Episode: "The Trap"|
|1978||The End||Julie Lawson|
|1978||Like Mom, Like Me||Jennifer Gruen||TV movie|
|1978||Summer of My German Soldier||Patty Bergen||TV movie|
|1979||My Old Man||Jo Butler||TV movie|
|1980||Blinded by the Light||Janet Bowers|
|1981||Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, TheThe Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia||Amanda Child|
|1981||Only When I Laugh||Polly||Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture|
|1982||White Dog||Julie Sawyer|
|1982||Pirate Movie, TheThe Pirate Movie||Mabel||Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Actress|
|1982||Aladdin and the Magic Lamp||The Princess||(voice)|
|1984||Just the Way You Are||Susan Berlanger|
|1985||Love, Mary||Mary Groda-Lewis||TV movie|
|1986||Dream Lover||Kathy Gardner|
|1986||Women of Valor||T.J. Nolan||TV movie|
|1988||You Can't Hurry Love||Rhonda|
|1988||Murder, She Wrote||Jill Morton||Episode: "Showdown in Saskatchewan"|
|1988||Two Moon Junction||Patti Jean||Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress|
|1988-1995||Empty Nest||Barbara Weston||100 episodes|
|1989||Forgotten One, TheThe Forgotten One||Barbara Stupple|
|1990||Children of the Bride||Mary||TV movie|
|1991||Baby of the Bride||Mary||TV movie|
|1991-1992||Golden Girls, TheThe Golden Girls||Barbara Weston||2 episodes|
|1993||Mother of the Bride||Mary||TV movie|
|1997||Extreme Ghostbusters||Girl in Sub (voice)||Episode: "Dry Spell"|
|1998||Invasion America||Sgt. Angela 'Angie' Romar||13 episodes|
- "Kristy McNichol Wants to 'Be Open About Who I Am'". People Magazine. 6 Jan 2012.
- The New York Times
- "Kristy McNichol". Hollywood.com. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Jon P. Bloch; Jeffrey A. Naser (2006). The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder: Reassuring Advice to Help You Cope (3rd ed.). Adams Media.
- Haller, Scott (April 3, 1989) People Archive Vol. 31, No. 13 "I Was Crying All the Time"
- Gritten, David (November 2, 1981) People Archive Vol. 16, No. 18 "Life's a Breeze for Kristy McNichol Now She's Left Her Tomboy Years Behind
- "Family (1976)," The Internet Movie Database 
- "Kristy McNichol". vh1.com. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- "Where Are They Now? Kristy McNichol"
- "Movies: Biography forKristy McNichol". The New York Times.
- "Ministry of Gossip". Los Angeles Times. January 9, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kristy McNichol.|