Brenda Strong

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Not to be confused with Brenda Song.
Brenda Strong
Brenda Strong at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Strong at the PaleyFest 2013 forum for Dallas
Born Brenda Lee Strong
(1960-03-25) March 25, 1960 (age 55)
Brightwood, Oregon, U.S.
Alma mater Arizona State University
Occupation Actress, narrator
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Tom Henri (1989–2011) 1 child

Brenda Lee Strong (born March 25, 1960) is an American actress and yoga instructor, best known for her role as Mary Alice Young on the ABC television comedy-drama series Desperate Housewives (2004–2012), for which she was nominated for two Emmy Awards.[1] She also is known for role as Sally Sasser on the ABC comedy-drama Sports Night (1998–2000) and as Ann Ewing on the TNT drama series Dallas (2012–2014).

Early life[edit]

Strong was born in Brightwood, Oregon, and grew up near Portland, Oregon, graduating in 1978 from Sandy Union High School in Sandy, Oregon. She later moved to Arizona to attend college, and graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Music in musical theater. Strong was crowned Miss Arizona in 1980; she is 6'0" (1.83 m) tall.[2]


Her first break after college was a spot in Billy Crystal's 1984 music video "You Look Marvelous". Her first television appearances came in 1985 with brief stints on St. Elsewhere, MacGyver, and Cheers. She also made guest appearances on Matlock, Murphy Brown, Herman's Head, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Blossom, and had a brief role on the cult favorite Twin Peaks.

By the mid-1990s, she was a regular guest player on dozens of series, with prominent recurring roles on 3rd Rock from the Sun and Party of Five. Strong also appeared on ER, Picket Fences, Silk Stalkings, and Dawson's Creek. She played Captain Deladier in the 1997 science fiction movie Starship Troopers.

One of Strong's most prominent roles during the 1990s was a recurring stint as Elaine's nemesis Sue Ellen Mischke, the "bra-less wonder" and "Oh Henry!" candy bar heiress, on several episodes of Seinfeld.[3]

She is well known for her recurring role on Sports Night as Sally Sasser, the nemesis of Felicity Huffman's Dana Whitaker. She also guest-starred on The WB's popular 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls,and Everwood. While working for The WB, she also had guest appearances on Ally McBeal, Nip/Tuck, CSI, Malcolm in the Middle and the short-lived The Lyon's Den. She also starred on the short-lived series Scorch (1992) and The Help (2004).

Strong appeared in movies such as The Craft, Spaceballs, The Deep End of the Ocean, Red Dragon, Black Dog, Exposed, Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 2 (her character died in the original, but she returned in a different role in the second movie). More recently, she could be seen in the dramatic Lifetime movie Family in Hiding, which premiered on August 6, 2006, as well as Curb Your Enthusiasm, where she plays a love interest of Larry David. Strong also appeared in the 2009 movie Ocean of Pearls.

Between 2004 and 2006, she costarred in the motion picture trilogy The Work and the Glory, based on a bestselling nine-volume series of the same name by Gerald N. Lund. Strong made an appearance on Boston Legal as a judge presiding over a murder trial in 2008.

Desperate Housewives[edit]

Strong starred, mostly off-screen, on Desperate Housewives, opposite Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher from 2004 to 2012, during the show's run. She plays the deceased Mary Alice Young, who narrates the events of her friends' and neighbors' lives from beyond the grave. Her narrations yielded an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 2011 and 2012. Strong's character has narrated all but two episodes of the series. One of the two exceptions is the Season 3 episode narrated by Steven Culp, after his character, Rex Van de Kamp, is killed by George Williams and he observes the lives of the men on the street. The other episode is narrated by Nicollette Sheridan, in which her character, Edie Britt, dies.

Strong has appeared several times in flashbacks and in a dream episode in which Lynette struggles to understand why she could not stop Mary Alice's suicide. She played another deceased wife on the television series Everwood, appearing mainly in flashback sequences as the late Julia Brown. Coincidentally, Marcia Cross played Dr. Linda Abbott, a love interest for Brown's widower, during the second season of Everwood. Both Strong and Cross appear in Season 9 of Seinfeld (episodes 9 and 8 respectively).


In 2012, Strong began starring as Ann Ryland Ewing on the TNT original drama series Dallas.[4] The series is a continuation of the original series of the same name that aired on CBS from 1978 to 1991. The show premiered on June 13, 2012.[5]

Personal life[edit]

A certified yoga instructor and fertility expert,[6] Strong has experience teaching at UCLA's Mind/Body Institute. She is working on a book about yoga and the woman's journey.

Strong married Tom Henri in July 1989; they have a child, Zakery Henri. She filed for divorce on January 14, 2011.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Weekend Warriors Danielle
1987 Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues Desiree Television movie
1987 Spaceballs Nurse Gretchen
1989 Skin Deep Real Estate Agent Uncredited
1990 People Like Us Brenda Primrose Television movie
1992 Stepfather III Lauren Sutliffe Television movie
1993 My Life Laura
1993 Malice Claudia
1994 Island City Dr. Sammy Helding Television movie
1996 The Craft Doctor
1997 Starship Troopers Captain Deladier
1998 Get a Job Emily LaCrosse
1998 Black Dog Melanie
1998 Undercurrent Renee Rivera
1999 The Deep End of the Ocean Ellen
2000 Terror Tract Dr. Helen Corey
2002 Teddy Bears' Picnic Jackie Sloane Chevron
2002 Red Dragon Dinner Guest
2003 Missing Brendan Joyce Calden
2003 Exposed Susan Andrews
2004 Going to the Mat Patty Newfield Television movie
2004 The Work and the Glory Mary Ann Steed
2004 Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation Sgt. Dede Rake
2005 The Work and the Glory II: American Zion Mary Ann Steed
2005 The Kid & I Bonnie Roman
2006 Family in Hiding Carol Peterson Television movie
2006 The Work and the Glory III: A House Divided Mary Ann Steed
2007 A Plumm Summer Viv
2008 Ocean of Pearls Mary Stewart
2009 You Paula
2010 Privileged Mrs. Carrington
Year Title Role Notes
1985 St. Elsewhere Nadine Aurora (TV series, 1 episode: "The Naked and the Dead")
1985 Misfits of Science Miss Speedway (TV series, 1 episode: "Twin Engines")
1985 Shadow Chasers Angela Taylor (TV series, 1 episode: "The Many Lies of Johnathan")
1986 MacGyver Lila (TV series, 1 episode: "The Assassin")
1986 Cheers Vicki (TV series, 1 episode: "The Cape Cad")
1986 Sledge Hammer! Miss Hotchkins (TV series, 1 episode: "Miss of the Spiderwoman")
1987 Dallas Cliff's One Night Stand (TV series, 1 episode: "Cat and Mouse")
1987 Hotel Hilary Sinclair (TV series, 1 episode: "Revelations")
1988 Star Trek: The Next Generation Rashella (TV series, 1 episode: "When the Bough Breaks")
1989 Midnight Caller Kristen (TV series, 1 episode: "No Exit")
1989 Hooperman Nun (TV series, 1 episode: "The Nun and I")
1989 Matlock Jan Sinclair (TV series, 1 episode: "The Model")
1990 Father Dowling Mysteries Miss Cantrell/O'Grady (TV series, 1 episode: "The Perfect Cover Mystery")
1991 Anything but Love Unknown (TV series, 1 episode: "My New Best Friend")
1991 Twin Peaks Jones (TV series, 4 episodes)
1991–1992 Blossom Diane (TV series, 2 episodes)
1991 Murphy Brown Janine (TV series, 1 episode: "Eldin Inmates Life")
1992 Rachel Gunn, R.N. Sheila (TV series, 1 episode: "I Dream of Squidhead")
1992 Scorch Allison King (TV series, 6 episodes)
1992 Sibs Unknown (TV series, 1 episode: "Warren and the Married Woman")
1992 Grapevine Allison (TV series, 1 episode: "The Allison and Ken Story")
1992 Dark Justice Jessica Sadler (TV series, 1 episode: "Happy Mothers Day")
1992–1993 Herman's Head Dr. Holland (TV series, 2 episodes)
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Beatrice Kaufman (TV series, 1 episode: "Young Indian Jones and the Scandal of 1920")
1993 The Second Half Heather (TV series, 1 episode: "Guess Who's Channeling Dinner?")
1993 Picket Fences Sarah Evans (TV series, 1 episode: "Unlawful Entries")
1993 Silk Stalkings Candy Grayson (TV series, 1 episode: "Ladies Night Out")
1994 ER Sally Niemeyer (TV series, 1 episode: "Into that Good Night")
1996 Murphy Brown Tara Baker (TV series, 1 episode: "Casa Nova")
1996 The John Larroquette Show Christine Taylor (TV series, 1 episode: "The Master Class")
1996 Party of Five Kathleen Isley (TV series, 6 episodes)
1996–1997 3rd Rock from the Sun Miss Frost (TV series, 2 episodes)
1996–1997 Seinfeld Sue Ellen Mischke (TV series, 4 episodes)
1997 Roar Megan (TV series, 1 episode: "Traps")
1997 Chicago Sons Nina (TV series, 1 episode: "Infrequent Flyers")
1998–2000 Sports Night Sally Sasser (TV series, 7 episodes)
1998 The Closer Susan Bend (TV series, 1 episode: "The Rebound")
1999 Odd Man Out Kasey Morton (TV series, 1 episode: "Good Will Hunting")
1999 Any Day Now Jana Durham (TV series, 1 episode: "It's Not You, It's Me")
1999 Safe Harbor Marilyn Conray (TV series, 1 episode: "Older Women, Younger Men")
2000 Get Real Olivia Clark (TV series, 1 episode: "Guilt")
2000 The Michael Richards Show Beth (TV series, 1 episode: "Discrimination")
2000–2002 7th Heaven Mrs. Carmen Mackoul (TV series, 8 episodes)
2001 Ally McBeal Jerry Hill (TV series, 1 episode: "Mr. Bo")
2001 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. Leigh Sapien (TV series, 1 episode: "Overload")
2001 Thieves Loretta (TV series, 1 episode: "Liver Let Die")
2001 Gilmore Girls Eva (TV series, 1 episode: "Like Mother, Like Daughter")
2001 Dawson's Creek Kay Liddell (TV series, 1 episode: "High Anxiety")
2002 Bram and Alice Theresa (TV series, 1 episode: "Scribbling Rivalry")
2002 The Court Marsha Palmer (TV series, 4 episodes)
2002 Malcolm in the Middle Amelia (TV series, 1 episode: "Family Reunion")
2002–2005 Everwood Julia Brown (TV series, 5 episodes)
2003 A.U.S.A. Judge Kimberly Flynn (TV series, 1 episode: "The Joint Report...A Love Story")
2003 Nip/Tuck Irish (TV series, 2 episodes)
2003 The Lyon's Den Rebecca McCandless (TV series, 1 episode: "Things She Said")
2004 The Help Arlene Ridgeway, the Rich Lady (TV series, 7 episodes)
2004–2012 Desperate Housewives Mary Alice Young Narrator (179 episodes)
Guest actress (17 episodes)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2005–2006)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2007–2009)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance (2011–2012)
2006 Just Legal Liza Lynch (TV series, 1 episode: "The Bar")
2006–2007 Help Me Help You Linda (TV series, 4 episodes)
2007 Curb Your Enthusiasm Dr. Flomm (TV series, 1 episode: "The N Word")
2007 Shark Olivia Hartnell (TV series, 1 episode: "In Absentia")
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Kathy Jarrow (TV series, 1 episode: "Betrayed")
2008 Boston Legal Judge Judy Beacon (TV series, 1 episode: "True Love")
2010 Scoundrels Penny Priest (TV series, 1 episode: "Birds of a Feather Flock Together")
2010 Rizzoli & Isles Mel Gaynor-Randle (TV series, 1 episode: "I Kissed a Girl")
2012–2014 Dallas Ann Ewing (TV series, 40 episodes)
2012 / 2014 Scandal Joan Reston (TV series, 2 episodes: "All Roads Lead to Fitz", "The Fluffer")
2012–present Blood Relatives Narrator (TV Series, 32 episodes)
2014 The Mysteries of Laura Margot Preston (TV series, 1 episode "The Mystery of the Mobile Murder")


  1. ^ Awards for Brenda Strong
  2. ^ Brenda Strong: Biography, TV Guide
  3. ^ Martin, John (25 June 1998). "Seinfeld Episode Reruns in Reverse". Telegraph Herald. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (April 5, 2011). "Dallas Scoop: Housewives Vet Is Bobby's Wife". TVLine. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Linda Gray Saddles Up For 'Dallas' Return". Access Hollywood. February 10, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ Brenda's Bio,
  7. ^ Desperate Housewives' Brenda Strong Files for Divorce, Us Weekly, January 15, 2011 AT 1:28PM By Us Weekly Staff

External links[edit]