Brett Butler (actress)

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Brett Butler
Brett Butler, 2015
Brett Anderson

(1958-01-30) January 30, 1958 (age 62)
OccupationActress, writer, comedian
Years active1988–present
Spouse(s)Charles Michael Wilson (m. 1978, div. 1981)
Ken Zieger (m. 1987, div. 1999)

Brett Butler (born January 30, 1958) is an American actress, writer, and stand-up comedian. She is best known for playing the title role in the ABC comedy series Grace Under Fire (1993–98), for which she received two Golden Globe Awards nominations.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Butler was born Brett Anderson in Montgomery, Alabama, the eldest of five sisters. She was four years old when her father, Roland Decatur Anderson Jr., an oil-company executive, moved the family to Houston, Texas. Her mother Carol left Roland, an abusive alcoholic, and moved with their children to Miami. Her mother battled depression, and the family was sometimes so poor that they ate Tootsie Rolls for dinner.[3] Butler briefly attended the University of Georgia.[3] Before experiencing success as a stand-up comic, she worked as a cocktail waitress.[2][4]

In 1978, at the age of 20, Butler married her first husband, Charles Michael Wilson three months after their meeting. Wilson was abusive and in 1981 she left him. Since then, he has both admitted and adamantly denied battering Butler, while claiming that she too was violent.[3] She returned to her mother in Miami, and began performing in comedy clubs. She moved to New York City in 1984, and was arrested for possession of marijuana.[3] In New York City, she would meet her second husband, Ken Zieger, and they got married in 1987.[3]

In 1987, Butler made her television debut on The Tonight Show. Also that year, she performed on Dolly Parton's ill-fated variety series, Dolly. Parton hired Butler as a writer for the remainder of the show's season, but the series was subsequently cancelled after one season of lackluster ratings.[5]

Grace Under Fire and beyond[edit]

Butler at the 1994 Emmy Awards

In 1993, Butler went on to star in the ABC comedy series Grace Under Fire created by Chuck Lorre.[6] Butler starred as Grace Kelly, a divorced single mother and recovering alcoholic. The show begins after the main character divorces her abusive alcoholic husband of eight years in an attempt to start life anew and prevent her children from making the same mistakes she did. For her performance, Butler received two Golden Globe Awards nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 1995 and 1997, and won People's Choice Awards for Favorite Female Performer in 1994.[7][8] She reprised her role of Grace Kelly in The Drew Carey Show and Ellen in 1997.

Butler published her memoir, Knee Deep in Paradise, in 1996. The book was started before attaining her celebrity status, and candidly addresses much of this time, ending the autobiography before Grace Under Fire's television debut.[9][10]

Behind the scenes, Butler battled a recurring drug addiction and spent time in rehab.[11] In February 1998, due to her erratic behavior stemming from substance abuse, she was dismissed from the show and ABC cancelled the series.[12][13][14] After Grace was cancelled in 1998, Butler moved from Los Angeles to a farm in Rome, Georgia, where she lived with 15 pets. The following years she made selected screen appearances in films Bruno (2000) and Mrs. Harris (2005), and guest-starred on episode of NBC sitcom My Name Is Earl in 2005. In 2008, Butler headlined at an arts fundraiser and spoke freely with a reporter about her depression, past drug addiction, television work, and current life on a farm. She also expressed interest in writing another book.[15]

Return to acting[edit]

In October 2011, Butler appeared on The Rosie Show and reported being sober since 1998.[16] A 2011 Hollywood Reporter article said that when the money ran out she turned to a homeless shelter for cover.[17] By this time Butler was attempting to make a career comeback and was working on developing a reality TV show about her self-professed psychic abilities and performing at the Downtown Comedy Club in Los Angeles.[18]

In June 2012, Butler appeared in a recurring role on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless playing ex-psychiatrist Tim Reid's girlfriend.[19] She returned for two episodes in March 2015.[20] Later in 2012, she began appearing in a recurring role as the bartender at the restaurant that Charlie Goodson (Charlie Sheen) frequents in the FX comedy series Anger Management.[21] Butler appeared in a total of 38 episodes from 2012 to 2014. In 2016, she played herself in the comedy-drama film The Comedian starring Robert De Niro.[22]

In recent years, Butler began appearing in dramatic roles. She guest-starred in two episodes of HBO drama series The Leftovers, and had a recurring role as Michaela's (Aja Naomi King) adoptive mother Trishelle in the ABC legal thriller How to Get Away with Murder in 2016.[23] From 2018 to 2019, she played Tammy Rose Sutton in the AMC horror series, The Walking Dead.[24] Also in 2019, she took a recurring role as Sandy Jackson, the mother of Reese Witherspoon's character in the Apple TV+ drama series, The Morning Show.[25][26]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 The Child Ain't Right Herself Showtime Stand-Up Comedy special
1994 Totally Bill Hicks Herself
2000 Bruno Sister Della Rosa
2000 Militia Bobbi
2005 Mrs. Harris Tarnowner Ex No. 1 Television film
2005 Vampire Bats Shelly Beaudraux
2009 Brett Butler Presents the Southern Belles of Comedy Herself
2016 The Comedian Herself
2018 Friday's Child Ms. LeField


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Dolly Rhonda Episode: "1.15"
1993–1998 Grace Under Fire Grace Kelly 112 episodes, also executive producer
People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1995, 1997)
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series (1994, 1996–97)
1995 Women of the House Brett Butler Episode: "Women in Film"
1995 The Larry Sanders Show Brett Butler Episode: "I Was a Teenage Lesbian"
1997 The Drew Carey Show Grace Kelly Episode: "Drew Gets Married"
1997 Ellen Grace Kelly Episode: "Secrets & Ellen"
1997 Coach Barbara Episode: "Viva Las Ratings"
2005 My Name Is Earl Connie Darville Episode: "White Lie Christmas"
2006 Moochers Host
2012 Archer Trish Episode: "Space Race – Part 2"
2012 The Young and the Restless Beth Hortense 9 episodes
2012–2014 Anger Management Brett 38 episodes
2015–2017 The Leftovers Sandy Episodes: "No Room at the Inn" + "Don't Be Ridiculous"
2016 How to Get Away with Murder[27] Trishelle Pratt Episode 35: "It's About Frank"
Episode 36: "Is Someone Really Dead?"
Episode 39: "Who's Dead?"[28]
2018–2019 The Walking Dead Tammy Rose Sutton 6 episodes
2019 The Morning Show Sandy Jackson 3 episodes


  1. ^ Baldwin, Kristen (November 22, 1996). "Brett Butler, Censored". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Schwarzbaum, Lisa (October 7, 1994). "Brett Butler: More Power To Her". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Out of the Fire".
  4. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (December 30, 1994). "Entertainer 11: Brett Butler". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  5. ^ "Turkeys! 50 Remarkable Pop-Culture Flops". Entertainment Weekly. August 1, 2016.
  6. ^ EDT, Newsweek Staff On 10/24/93 at 8:00 PM (October 24, 1993). "Three Stars Are Born". Newsweek.
  7. ^ "Brett Butler". IMDb.
  8. ^ "Brett Butler".
  9. ^ "Knee Deep in Paradise". Publishers Weekly. April 29, 1996. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  10. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (April 19, 1996). "Knee Deep in Paradise". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  11. ^ Flint, Joe (September 12, 1997). "Sad fall for Grace Under Fire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  12. ^ Miller, D. Patrick (2003). "Fame, Fire and Surrender". Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  13. ^ Lanzendorfer, Joy (August 18, 2004). "Funny Lady". North Bay Bohemian. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  14. ^ "Brett Butler's Problems Halt 'Grace Under Fire'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
  15. ^ "Spitfire: Comic Brett Butler set to take the stage in Santa Fe" October 23, 2008 Archived January 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ O'Donnell, Rosie (host) (October 26, 2011). "Brett Butler and Frank DeCaro". The Rosie Show. Season 1. Episode 13. OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
  17. ^ "Former 'Grace Under Fire' Star Brett Butler Reveals: I'm Homeless (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. November 17, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  18. ^ Giang, Vivian; Schlanger, Danielle (July 17, 2012). "9 Famous People Who Became Homeless". Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  19. ^ Kroll, Dan (May 8, 2012). "Y&R hires Brett Butler for latest stunt casting". SoapCentral. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  20. ^ Giddens, Jamey (March 17, 2015). "It Never Ends...Brett Butler to Appear on The Young and the Restless". Daytime Confidential.
  21. ^ Rhodes, Joe (January 27, 2013). "Brett Butler on Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "How to Get Away with Murder's Aja Naomi King on That "Fishy" House Fire Reveal". TV Guide.
  24. ^ Mitchell, Molli (February 11, 2019). "The Walking Dead season 9: Who is Brett Butler? Who plays Tammy Rose?".
  25. ^ "The Morning Show Cast & Character Guide". ScreenRant. November 3, 2019.
  26. ^
  27. ^ "How To Get Away With Murder: Guest Stars". TV Guide.
  28. ^ "Brett Butler Credits". TV Guide.

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