Diane Venora

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Diane Venora
Born (1952-08-10) August 10, 1952 (age 64)
East Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Education The Juilliard School (1977)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Andrzej Bartkowiak (m. 1980–89)

Diane Venora (born August 10, 1952) is an American stage, television and film actress.

Venora graduated from the Juilliard School in 1977 and made her film debut in 1981 opposite Albert Finney in Wolfen. She won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1988 film Bird directed by Clint Eastwood. Her other films include, The Cotton Club (1984), Heat (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Jackal (1997), The Insider (1999) and Hamlet (2000).

Early life[edit]

Venora was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, one of six children of Marie (née Brooks) and Robert P. Venora, who owned a dry cleaning establishment.[1][2] Diane graduated from East Hartford High School (class of 1970), during which she was active in musicals and plays. She studied at Boston Conservatory of Music and two years later won a scholarship to The Juilliard School in New York City, where she graduated in 1977.[3] At Juilliard she was a member of the Drama Department's Group 6 (1973–1977),[4] which also included Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Sansom Harris, and Robin Williams.[5]


After graduation, Venora performed extensively on the stage, particularly in Shakespearean plays.[6] She made her film debut alongside Albert Finney and Gregory Hines in Wolfen (1981). In 1983, she starred in Joseph Papp's production of Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the lead role, the first woman to play the role at the prestigious showcase. She has a long history with Hamlet, having played the title role, having played Ophelia opposite Kevin Kline, and having played Gertrude onscreen opposite Ethan Hawke.

In 1988, her critically acclaimed performance in Clint Eastwood's biographical feature of jazz great Charlie Parker, Bird, as Chan Parker, his wife, earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination and the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

In 1994, after taking five years off to care for her daughter, Venora landed a starring role in the ABC TV series Thunder Alley (playing Ed Asner's character's daughter), followed by a recurring role as plastic surgeon Geri Infante in the Emmy-winning TV series Chicago Hope.

In 1995, she starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat, earning high regard from both critics and audiences for her portrayal of Justine Hanna, the Pacino character's troubled wife.[6] That performance and her follow-up as Juliet's mother, Gloria Capulet, in Romeo + Juliet (1996) earned her supporting roles in The Jackal (1997), The 13th Warrior (1999), and The Insider (1999). She was most recently seen in the 2010 film, All Good Things.

Personal life[edit]

Venora was married to cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak in 1980; the couple divorced in 1989. She quit show business in 1989 to spend more time with her daughter Madzia, then eight years old. During her hiatus, Venora lived in New York, teaching disadvantaged children and acting in an occasional play. In 1994, Venora and her daughter moved to Los Angeles.[3]


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Wolfen Rebecca Neff
1982 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta
1983 Cook & Peary: The Race to the Pole Marie Fidele Hunt
1984 The Cotton Club Gloria Swanson
1985 A.D. Corinna TV mini-series
1985 Terminal Choice Anna Lang
1986 F/X Ellen Keith
1987 Ironweed Margaret 'Peg' Phelan
1988 Bird Chan Parker New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actress
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress (2nd)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation Captain Rachel Garrett 1 episode
1994 Thunder Alley Roberta 'Bobbi' Turner 8 episodes
1994-1995 Chicago Hope Dr. Geri Infante 11 episodes
1995 Three Wishes Joyce
1995 Heat Justine Hanna Nominated - Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996 The Substitute Jane Hetzko
1996 Surviving Picasso Jacqueline
1996 Romeo + Juliet Gloria Capulet
1997 The Jackal Major Valentina Koslova Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actress - Suspense
1999 True Crime Barbara Everett
1999 The 13th Warrior Queen Weilew
1999 The Joyriders Celeste
1999 The Young Girl and the Monsoon Giovanna
1999 The Insider Liane Wigand
2000 Hamlet Gertrude
2000 Looking for an Echo Joanne Delgado
2001 Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 Gabriella Francini
2002 Heartbreak Hospital Sunday Tyler/Andrea Harmon
2004 Stateside Mrs. Hengen
2004 Breaking Dawn Mother
2005 Self Medicated Louise Eriksen Phoenix Film Festival for Best Ensemble
2008 Stiletto Sylvia Vadalos
2009 Follow the Prophet Red
2009 The Ministers Gina Santana
2010 All Good Things Janice Rizzo


  1. ^ "Diane Venora Biography (1952-)". FilmReference.com. 
  2. ^ "Venora. Robert P. Venora, Sr.". Hartford Courant. February 23, 1997. 
  3. ^ a b Lang, Steven (December 8, 1997). "Second Act: Having Once Left Acting to Care for Her Daughter, Diane Venora Takes a Run at Stardom in The Jackal". People. 
  4. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. November 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. 
  5. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. 
  6. ^ a b Diane Venora- Biography

External links[edit]