|Born||March 7, 1959|
New York City, U.S.
|Notable work||Fosca in Passion (1994)|
Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town (2003)
Voice of Mother Gothel in Disney's Tangled (2010)
(m. 1990; died 2016)
Donna Murphy (born March 7, 1959) is an American actress, best known for her work in musical theater. A five-time Tony Award nominee, she has twice won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical: for her role as Fosca in Passion (1994–1995) and as Anna Leonowens in The King and I (1996–1997). She was also nominated for her roles as Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town (2003), Lotte Lenya in LoveMusik (2007) and Bubbie/Raisel in The People in the Picture (2011).
Murphy made her Broadway debut as a replacement in the 1979 musical They're Playing Our Song. Her other stage credits include the original off-Broadway productions of Song of Singapore (1991) and Hello Again (1993), as well as the alternate to Bette Midler as the title character in a Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! (2017–2018). In 1997, she won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special for her role in Someone Had to be Benny, an episode of the HBO series Lifestories: Families in Crisis. Her film roles include Anij in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), Rosalie Octavius in Spider-Man 2 (2004), Mother Gothel in the animated film Tangled (2010), and one of the government secretaries in The Bourne Legacy (2012). As of 2022, she portrays Caroline Schermerhorn Astor in the HBO series The Gilded Age.
Early life and education
Murphy, the eldest of seven children, was born in Corona, Queens, New York, the daughter of Jeanne (née Fink) and Robert Murphy, an aerospace engineer. Murphy is of Irish, French, German, and Czech ancestry. Her family moved to Hauppauge, Long Island, New York. At age three, she asked for voice lessons, and she put on shows as a child in Hauppauge. She later moved to Topsfield, Massachusetts and graduated from Masconomet Regional High School in 1977.
Murphy dropped out of the New York University drama program in her sophomore year when she was cast to understudy the three backup singers in the 1979 Broadway musical They're Playing Our Song. In a 2007 interview, Murphy explained, "At the end of my sophomore year, I took a leave of absence. I needed to audition without cutting classes." She also studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.
She has appeared in many off-Broadway productions, including the musical Francis in 1981 at the York Theatre at St. Peter's, The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 1985 at the Public Theater's Delacorte Theatre, Birds of Paradise in 1987 (Promenade Theatre), Privates on Parade (Roundabout Theatre) in 1989, the musical Song of Singapore in 1991, the Michael John LaChiusa musical Hello Again at the Lincoln Center Mitzi Newhouse Theater in 1993, Twelve Dreams at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in 1995, and Helen at the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival in 2002. In 2012, she appeared in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at The Public Theater's Delacorte Theatre as the Witch.
On Broadway, after They're Playing Our Song (1979), she was an understudy in the musical/opera The Human Comedy in April 1984 and played various roles in The Mystery of Edwin Drood from 1985 to 1987. She also played Audrey in Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's Little Shop of Horrors. In 1994, she played the role of Fosca in Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's Passion, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. A year later she appeared in Lapine's revival, Twelve Dreams. In 1996, she played Anna Leonowens in the revival of The King and I alongside Lou Diamond Phillips, also recording a cast album. The role earned her a second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She appeared as Ruth Sherwood in a revival of Wonderful Town from 2003 to 2005 (having previously performed in the New York City Center Encores! 2000 staged concert of that musical), and was nominated for the Tony Award, Best Actress in a Musical and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In 2007, she appeared in LoveMusik as Lotte Lenya, opposite Michael Cerveris as Kurt Weill, receiving nominations for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. She appeared in the 2007 New York City Center Encores! staged concert of Follies as Phyllis. She appeared in the Roundabout Theatre production of a new musical, The People in the Picture, which opened on April 28, 2011, and closed on June 19, 2011. She was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her role in the production.
She appeared in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! as Dolly Levi, the alternate to Bette Midler on Tuesday evenings and other select performances. She played her last performance on January 7, 2018. Murphy returned to Hello, Dolly! for six performances (July 22 and 29, August 5, 12, 19, and 20) when Midler rejoined the musical before it closed on August 25, 2018.
Murphy's film roles include Anij, Captain Jean-Luc Picard's love interest, in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), in the film Center Stage, as a ballet teacher (2000), as Rosalie Octavius, wife of Dr. Otto Octavius, the film's villain in Spider-Man 2 (2004), as Betty, a surgical research assistant in Darren Aronofsky's film The Fountain (2006), and Scarlett Johansson's mother in The Nanny Diaries (2007). As Mother Gothel in the animated musical film Tangled (2010) she sang the song "Mother Knows Best". She played Kathleen, Vera Farmiga's mother in Higher Ground (2011) and Marie in Dark Horse (2011). In 2012, she appeared as government secretary Dita Mandy, in The Bourne Legacy.
On television, Murphy appeared in the NBC soap opera Another World from 1989 through 1991 as District Attorney Morgan Graves. She won an Emmy in 1997, for playing Armando Agrelo in "Someone Had to be Benny" (1996), an episode of the HBO series Lifestories: Families in Crisis. Other television series roles include a recurring role as Abigail Adams in Liberty! The American Revolution (1997), Murder One (1995–1996), Law & Order as Carla Tyrell in a recurring role (2000), Hack (2002–2003), Trust Me (2009) and Quantico (2017). Her voice-over work in TV commercials, includes the Le Vian chocolate diamonds series for Jared Jewelry. In 2022 Murphy recurred on HBO's The Gilded Age as Caroline Schermerhorn Astor.
Murphy was married to actor and singer Shawn Elliott from 1990 until his death in March 2016. She is the stepmother of Elliott's two daughters. In 2005, they adopted a daughter from Guatemala.
|1979–81||They're Playing Our Song||Swing / Sonia Walsk||Imperial Theatre||Voice|
|1984||The Human Comedy||Bess Macauley and Mary Arena||Royale Theatre||Understudy|
|1985–87||The Mystery of Edwin Drood||Various characters||Imperial Theatre|
|1995||Twelve Dreams||Dorothy Trowbridge||Lincoln Center|
|1996–97||The King and I||Anna Leonowens||Neil Simon Theatre|
|2002||Helen||Helen of Troy||The Public Theater|
|2003–04||Wonderful Town||Ruth Sherwood||Al Hirschfeld Theatre|
|2007||Follies||Phyllis Stone||New York City Center|
|LoveMusik||Lotte Lenya||Biltmore Theatre|
|2010||Anyone Can Whistle||Mayor Cora||New York City Center|
|2011||The People in the Picture||Bubbie / Raisel||Studio 54|
|2012||Into the Woods||The Witch||Delacorte Theater||Central Park|
|2017–18||Hello, Dolly!||Dolly Gallagher Levi||Shubert Theatre||Alternate to Bette Midler|
|2023||Dear World||Countess Aurelia||New York City Center|
|1995||Jade||Detective Karen Heller|
|1998||Star Trek: Insurrection||Anij|
|1999||The Astronaut's Wife||Natalie Streck|
|2000||Center Stage||Juliette Simone|
|2004||The Door in the Floor||Frame Shop Owner|
|2004||Spider-Man 2||Rosalie Octavius|
|2006||Ira & Abby||Dr. Betsy Goldman|
|2006||World Trade Center||Judy Jonas|
|2007||The Nanny Diaries||Judy Braddock|
|2008||Sherman's Way||Evelyn Black|
|2011||Higher Ground||Kathleen Walker|
|2012||The Bourne Legacy||CIA Agent Dita Mandy|
|2016||No Pay, Nudity||Pearl|
|2020||Anastasia: Once Upon a Time||Yara the Enchantress|
|1987||Tales from the Hollywood Hills: A Table at Ciro's||June, The Vocalist||Television film|
|1991||Another World||District Attorney Morgan Graves||7 episodes|
|1993||Law & Order||Karen Unger||Episode: "Right to Counsel"|
|1996||Lifestories: Families in Crisis||Armanda Agrelo||Episode: "Someone Had to Be Benny"|
|1995–1996||Murder One||Francesca Cross||6 episodes|
|1996||Remember WENN||Ruth Geddy||Episode: "Behind Every Great Woman"|
|1997||Nothing Sacred||Camille||Episode: "Spirit and Substance"|
|1997–2000||Law & Order||Carla Tyrell||2 episodes|
|1997||Liberty! The American Revolution||Abigail Adams||Miniseries; 6 episodes|
|1998||The Practice||Marie Hanson||Episode: "Axe Murderer"|
|1998||Ally McBeal||Marie Hanson||Episode: "The Inmates"|
|1998||The Day Lincoln Was Shot||Mary Todd Lincoln||Television film|
|2000||The Last Debate||Joan Naylor||Television film|
|2000–2001||What About Joan?||Dr. Ruby Stern||21 episodes|
|2002||The Education of Max Bickford||Esther Weber||Episode: "The Good, the Bad, and the Lawyers"|
|2002–2003||Hack||Heather Olshansky||16 episodes|
|2005||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Captain Annie Krame||Episode: "Hollywood Brass"|
|2006||The Book of Daniel||Dr. Libby Webster||Episode: "God's Will"|
|2006||Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip||Blair||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2007||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Maureen Pagolis||Episode: "Albatross"|
|2007||Damages||Nancy||Episode: "Do You Regret What We Did?"|
|2008||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Dr. Raye Massey||Episode: "Retro"|
|2009||Trust Me||Denise Goodman||5 episodes|
|2010||Ugly Betty||Eve||Episode: "Million Dollar Smile"|
|2012||Made in Jersey||Darlene Garetti||7 episodes|
|2013||The Mentalist||Diandra Sunderland||Episode: "Behind the Red Curtain"|
|2013||House of Versace||Maria||Television film|
|2014||The Good Wife||Judge Alice Adelson||Episode: "A Material World"|
|2014||Royal Pains||Berta||Episode: "Steaks on a Plane"|
|2014–2015||Resurrection||Angela Forrester||8 episodes|
|2015||Hindsight||Georgie Brady||4 episodes|
|2016–2017||Mercy Street||Jane Green||12 episodes|
|2017||Doubt||District Attorney Grace Russo||2 episodes|
|2017–2020||Tangled: The Series||Mother Gothel||Voice, 6 episodes|
|2017||Quantico||Rebecca Sherman||Episode: "Mktopaz"|
|2019||The Blacklist||Sophia Quayle||Episode: "The Pawnbrokers (No. 146/147)"|
|2019||The Bravest Knight||Trulla||Voice, episode: "Cedric & the Troll"|
|2019–2020||Power||Loretta Walsh||5 episodes|
|2021–2022||Gossip Girl||Headmistress Vivian Burton||4 episodes|
|2022–present||The Gilded Age||Caroline Schermerhorn Astor||Recurring (season 1); main cast (season 2)|
|2022||Inventing Anna||Donna Zaveri||Episode: "Two Birds, One Throne"|
|2010||Tangled: The Video Game||Mother Gothel|
|2019||Kingdom Hearts III|
|2023||Disney Dreamlight Valley|
Awards and nominations
- Donna Murphy RottenTomatoes.com
- Pogrebin, Robin (December 15, 2003). "A Perfectionist Is at Home in a Role Funny and Loose". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- "Twentyquestions: Donna Murphy currently leads a screwball conga-line of Brazilian sailors in the Broadway revival of Wonderful Town". American Theatre. April 1, 2004. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
- Kilian, Michael (December 17, 1998). "Making the Break". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
- Nassour, Ellis. "Donna Murphy: Singing in a Different Key in LoveMusik", broadwaystars.com, May 7, 2007
- IMDB shows that she earned a bachelor of fine arts in 1980.
- "Donna Murphy". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2009. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Hetrick, Adam. "Once Upon a Time, Later": 'Into the Woods' Casts Spell in Central Park Starting July 24" Archived July 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Playbill.com, July 24, 2012
- Brantley, Ben. "Oh, Those Sharp Stones in a Dance Down Memory Lane", The New York Times, February 10, 2007
- BWW News Desk. "Donna Murphy to Return to Broadway in 'The People In The Picture'" broadwayworld.com, October 31, 2010
- "Tony Nominations Announced" broadwayworld.com, May 3, 2011
- McPhee, Ryan. "Donna Murphy Sets Last Night in 'Hello, Dolly!'; Bernadette Peters to Play 8 Performances a Week" Playbill, September 7, 2017
- McPhee, Ryan. "Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein Bid Farewell to 'Hello, Dolly!' January 14" Playbill, January 14, 2018
- McPhee, Ryan. "Donna Murphy to Return to Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!'" Playbill, May 29, 2018
- "Alan Menken Interview" broadwayworld.com, November 15, 2010
- "Actor Shawn Elliott, Husband of Donna Murphy, Dies at 79" Playbill, March 18, 2016
- Robertson, Campbell."No Ill Feelings: Producers Bet on a 'Superwoman'", discussing her adopted daughterThe New York Times, April 30, 2007
- Gerard, Jeremy (June 9, 1995). "Twelve Dreams". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
- "Kevin Gray to replace Lou Diamond Phillips in King & I". Playbill. May 27, 1997. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- Brantley, Ben (April 9, 2002). "THEATER REVIEW; The Face Again, Still Gorgeous But a Bit Weary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
- "Donna Murphy's Final Week in Wonderful Town". Playbill. September 21, 2004. Archived from the original on March 13, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- Brantley, Ben (February 10, 2007). "Oh, Those Sharp Stones in a Dance Down Memory Lane". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
- Gans, Andrew (March 1, 2010). "Donna Murphy Joins Cast of Encores! Anyone Can Whistle". Playbill. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
- Culwell-Block, Logan (March 15, 2023). "Donna Murphy Stars in Jerry Herman's Dear World at New York City Center Encores! Beginning March 15". Playbill. Retrieved March 21, 2023.
- Walsh, Kathleen (June 21, 2019). "Your Kids Should Be Watching 'The Bravest Knight' This Pride Month — Here's Why". Romper. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.