Kate Nelligan

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Kate Nelligan
Patricia Colleen Nelligan

(1950-03-16) March 16, 1950 (age 73)
Years active1972–2010
(m. 1989; div. 2000)
Children1 son

Patricia Colleen Nelligan (born March 16, 1950), known professionally as Kate Nelligan, is a Canadian stage, film and television actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1991 film The Prince of Tides, and the same year won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Frankie and Johnny. She is also a four-time Tony Award nominee for her work on Broadway, receiving nominations for Plenty (1983), A Moon for the Misbegotten (1984), Serious Money (1988) and Spoils of War (1989).

Early life[edit]

Nelligan, the fourth of six children, was born in London, Ontario, the daughter of Patrick Joseph Nelligan and his wife Josephine Alice (née Deir). Her father was a factory repairman and municipal employee in charge of ice rinks and recreational parks, and her mother was a schoolteacher.[1]

Her mother, whom Nelligan has described as "very powerful, very brilliant and very, very crazy",[2] suffered from alcohol abuse and other psychological problems, and was subsequently institutionalized.[3] Nelligan attended London South Collegiate Institute in London, Ontario, where she went by “Trish”,[4] and then studied at Glendon College in Toronto, but did not graduate.[5] Instead, she switched to studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.[6]


In August 1972, Nelligan launched her professional stage career as a "funny and convincing" Corie in the Bristol Old Vic production of Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon.[6] In the Bristol Old Vic studio space in the following April she took the role of Leila in The Screens, an abridgement by Howard Brenton of Jean Genet's savage Les Paravents.[7] On television, she appeared in a regular role in the British television series The Onedin Line. In 1974, she was invited to London to play the part of Jenny in David Hare's play Knuckle at the Comedy Theatre, followed by a season with the National Theatre playing Ellie in Heartbreak House. 1975 saw her appear opposite Anthony Hopkins in the televised play The Arcata Promise followed by the televised theatrical version of The Count of Monte Cristo that featured an all-star cast of British and American actors. That same year her first feature-length film The Romantic Englishwoman was released.

In 1977, again with the National Theatre, Nelligan gave a "stunning" performance as Marianne, opposite Stephen Rea, in Horváth's Tales from the Vienna Woods directed by Maximilian Schell.[8] Also in 1977, she played the part of Rosalind in As You Like It, directed by Terry Hands, opposite Peter McEnery in Stratford-upon-Avon and the following year in London. This she followed with Plenty, another play from David Hare, at the National Theatre, for which she received the 1978 "Best Actress" Evening Standard Theatre Award, with a runner-up position as "Best Actress in a New Play" in that season's Oliviers.[9][10] She was cast in a similar role, playing opposite Bill Paterson, in Hare's BAFTA-award-winning companion play Licking Hitler, for BBC television.[11]

Again on screen, in 1978 Nelligan played the part of Isabella in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure, a performance that led the New York Times to describe her as providing "the image of idealized faultlessness".[12] In 1979, she was the female lead alongside Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier in Dracula. In 1981, she starred opposite fellow Canadian Donald Sutherland in Eye of the Needle, a wartime espionage thriller based on the Ken Follett best-selling novel. Two years later Nelligan moved to New York City, where she earned nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actress in a Play three times and one Featured Actress in a Play between 1983 and 1989 for the five Broadway plays in which she appeared.[13]

In 1991, Nelligan won a BAFTA for "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" for her performance in Frankie and Johnny.[14] For her performance in the 1991 film The Prince of Tides she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[15] Between 1987 and 2004, she was nominated for five Gemini Awards for her performances in Canadian television mini-series and films and won twice, both in 1993.[16] In 1996, she played the wife of James Mink in the CBS television film Captive Heart: The James Mink Story.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Nelligan and American composer Robert Reale married in 1989. Together they have a son. The couple divorced in 2000.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1975 The Romantic Englishwoman Isabel
1979 Dracula Lucy Seward
1980 Crossover Peabody
1981 Eye of the Needle Lucy Rose
1983 Without a Trace Susan Selky
1985 Eleni Eleni Gatzoyiannis
1987 Control Sarah Howell
1990 White Room Jane
1991 Frankie and Johnny Cora
1991 Shadows and Fog Eve
1991 The Prince of Tides Lila Wingo Newbury
1993 Fatal Instinct Lana Ravine
1994 Wolf Charlotte Randall
1995 Margaret's Museum Catherine MacNeil
1995 How to Make an American Quilt Constance Saunders
1996 Up Close & Personal Joanna Kennelly
1998 U.S. Marshals US Marshal Catherine Walsh
1998 Boy Meets Girl Mrs. Jones
1999 The Cider House Rules Olive Worthington
2007 Premonition Joanne


Year Title Role Notes
1971 Great Performances Laura "The Arcata Promise"
1973 The Edwardians Alice Keppel "Daisy"
1973 Country Matters Christie Davenport "The Four Beauties"
1973–74 The Onedin Line Leonora Biddulph Recurring role
1974 ITV Sunday Night Drama Laura "The Arcata Promise"
1975 The Count of Monte Cristo Mercedes TV film
1976 The Lady of the Camellias Marguerite Gautier "1.1", "1.2"
1977 The Sunday Drama Ann "Treats"
1977 Play for Today Hilary "Do as I Say"
1978 Play for Today Anna Seaton "Licking Hitler"
1979 Measure for Measure Isabella TV film – BBC Shakespeare series
1980 Thérèse Raquin Thérèse Raquin TV miniseries
1980 Play for Today Caroline "Dreams of Leaving"
1980 Forgive Our Foolish Ways Vivien Lanyon TV series
1982 Victims Ruth Hession TV film
1987 Kojak: The Price of Justice Kitty TV film
1989 Love and Hate: The Story of Colin and JoAnn Thatcher JoAnn Thatcher TV film
1991 American Playhouse Barbara Hoyle "Three Hotels"
1991 Performance Kate "Old Times"
1992 Road to Avonlea Sydney Carver "After the Honeymoon"
1992 Terror Stalks the Class Reunion Kay TV film
1992 The Great Diamond Robbery Holly Plum TV film
1992 Heritage Minutes Emily Murphy "Emily Murphy"
1993 Liar, Liar: Between Father and Daughter Susan Miori TV film
1993 Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story Stephanie Chadford TV film
1994 Golden Fiddles Anne Balfour TV miniseries
1994 In Spite of Love Elise TV film
1994 Million Dollar Babies Helena Reid TV miniseries
1995 A Mother's Prayer Sheila Walker TV film
1996 Captive Heart: The James Mink Story Elizabeth Mink TV film
1996 Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn Margaret Pfeiffer TV film
1999 Love Is Strange Kathryn McClain TV film
1999 Swing Vote Justice Sara Marie Brandwynne TV film
2000 Blessed Strangers: After Flight 111 Kate O'Rourke TV film
2001 Walter and Henry Elizabeth TV film
2003 A Wrinkle in Time Mrs. Which TV film
2004 Human Cargo Nina Wade TV miniseries
2006 In from the Night Vera Miller TV film
2008 Eleventh Hour Gepetto "Resurrection"
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Judge Sylvia Quinn "Ace", "Gray"

Broadway plays[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominated work Result
1978 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a New Play Plenty Nominated
1979 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress Measure for Measure Nominated
1980 Dreams of Leaving / Therese Raquin / Forgive Our Foolish Ways Nominated
1983 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Plenty Nominated
1984 A Moon for the Misbegotten Nominated
1988 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play Serious Money Nominated
1989 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Spoils of War Nominated
1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Road to Avonlea Nominated
1990 Gemini Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries Love and Hate: The Story of Colin and JoAnn Thatcher Nominated
1990 Genie Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role White Room Nominated
1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress The Prince of Tides Nominated
1991 BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Frankie and Johnny Won
1993 Gemini Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series The Diamond Fleece Won
1995 Genie Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Margaret's Museum Won


  1. ^ Kate Nelligan profile, filmreference.com. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  2. ^ Bored with being a lady, actress Kate Nelligan gets down to earthy People Weekly, January 27, 1992.
  3. ^ "Kate Nelligan Biography – Yahoo! Movies".
  4. ^ "Lion's Pride Winter 2003" (PDF). South Alumni.
  5. ^ Senior Executive Cites Liberal Arts Education for Success Glendon
  6. ^ a b Plumley, C. Murray (August 24, 1972). "On this week at Bristol". The Stage. p. 18.
  7. ^ "The Screens". The Stage. April 5, 1973. p. 17.
  8. ^ Barber, John (April 30, 1979). "Attacking the NT with ink-balls". The Times. London. p. 10.
  9. ^ "The Nominees and Winners of The Laurence Olivier Awards for 1978". Official London Theatre Guide. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
  10. ^ "Evening Standard theatre awards: 1955-1979". Evening Standard. April 10, 2012.
  11. ^ Lawson, Mark (May 3, 1999). "Splitting Hares". The Guardian. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  12. ^ "Measure for Measure", Liner notes, The Shakespeare Collection, BBC DVD, originally broadcast February 18, 1979.
  13. ^ "Kate Nelligan Broadway" Playbill. (vault). Retrieved March 11, 2016
  14. ^ "'Frankie and Johnny' Awards" allmovie.com. Retrieved March 12, 2016
  15. ^ The Prince of Tides tcm.com. Retrieved March 11, 2016
  16. ^ "Gemini Awards, Kate Nelligan" Archived March 12, 2016, at the Wayback Machine academy.ca. Retrieved March 11, 2016
  17. ^ O'Connor, John J. "Slavery as Experienced By a Mixed-Race Couple" The New York Times, April 12, 1996
  18. ^ Russell, Lisa (August 17, 1992). "Passages". People. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved July 31, 2022. lad is the first child for the Oscar nominee and her [scil. Kate Nelligan] husband, composer Robert Reale, 36.

External links[edit]