Lea Thompson

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Lea Thompson
Lea Thompson February 2015 crop.JPG
Thompson at the Paramount Theater in February 2015
Born Lea Katherine Thompson
(1961-05-31) May 31, 1961 (age 55)
Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Howard Deutch (m. 1989)
Children Zoey and Madelyn Deutch

Lea Katherine Thompson (born May 31, 1961)[1] is an American actress, television director, and television producer. She is known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy and as the title character in the 1990s NBC sitcom Caroline in the City. Other films for which she is known include All the Right Moves (1983), Red Dawn (1984), Howard the Duck (1986) Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), and The Beverly Hillbillies (1993). Since 2011, she has co-starred as Kathryn Kennish in the FreeForm (formerly ABC Family) series Switched at Birth.

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Thompson was born in Rochester, Minnesota,[1] one of five children of Clifford and Barbara Barry Thompson.[2] She has two sisters, Coleen Goodrich and Shannon Katona and two brothers, Andrew (Ballet dancer) and Barry. Her mother is of Irish descent.[3]

She studied ballet as a girl and danced professionally by the age of 14, winning scholarships to the American Ballet Theatre, the San Francisco Ballet, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.[4] Told she did not have the right body to become a prima ballerina by Mikhail Baryshnikov himself, she changed her focus to acting.[4] Moving to New York at age 20, she performed in a number of Burger King advertisements in the 1980s along with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Elisabeth Shue, her eventual co-star in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III.[4][5]


Thompson made her home-media screen debut in 1982 as Cecily "Sissy" Loper in the interactive live-action video game MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? and her movie debut in 1983, with Jaws 3-D. She recalled the film as "the very first movie I ever got, but I lied and said I had done a couple of other movies, so when I showed up, I really knew absolutely nothing. Also, I had said that I knew how to water-ski. And I did not. So I had, like, five days to learn really, really complicated water-skiing things, because I had to fit into the Sea World water-skiing show. I don’t even know how to swim!"[5] She followed this with All the Right Moves (1983), Red Dawn (1984), and The Wild Life (1984).

Thompson's most famous role is that of Lorraine Baines McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, with the first film released in 1985. Thompson's character is the mother of Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, whom Marty meets when she is a 1950s adolescent age after he travels back in time: he has to avoid having Lorraine fall in love with him instead of with his future father, George (Crispin Glover), which leads to awkward scenes where Lorraine is attracted to him.

In 1986, Thompson starred in SpaceCamp and Howard the Duck (film). For the latter film, she sang several songs on the soundtrack in character, as musician Beverly Switzler, who was the lead vocalist for a band called Cherry Bomb. The recordings appeared on the soundtrack album and on singles. Rounding out film appearances in the late 1980s, Thompson starred in Some Kind of Wonderful, Casual Sex?, and The Wizard of Loneliness. She also had a prominent role in the 1989 TV film Nightbreaker, for which she was nominated for a CableACE Award. In the early 1990s, Thompson starred as the mother of the eponymous character in Dennis the Menace (1993), the villainess in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), and a snooty ballet instructor in The Little Rascals (1994). She also appeared in several TV films throughout the 1990s, including The Substitute Wife (1994) and The Right To Remain Silent (1996).

Thompson found moderate critical and popular success as the star of the NBC sitcom Caroline in the City from 1995 to 1999. In 1996, Thompson received a People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series, while her show won for Favorite New TV Comedy Series.[6] Thompson also starred in a A Will of their Own, a 1998 American television mini-series directed by Karen Arthur. The film follows six generations of females within one family, and their struggle for power and independence in America. The film debuted on October 18, 1998 on the NBC network to strong critical reviews.

After a break from acting, Thompson went on to star in several Broadway plays. She later appeared in a TV series called For the People, which only lasted one season. She then starred in a TV film, Stealing Christmas (2003), starring Tony Danza and Betty White. Thompson also appeared in several episodes of the dramedy series Ed and in a guest role for one episode in 2004 on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; she played a woman whose embryos were stolen.

In 2005, Thompson began a series of made-for-TV films for the Hallmark Channel, in which she plays Jane Doe, an ex-secret agent turned housewife, who helps the government solve mysteries. Thompson directed two films from the Jane Doe series – Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall and Jane Doe: Eye of the Beholder.

Thompson was a featured singer on Celebrity Duets and the second contestant eliminated in 2006. In April 2007 she starred in another television film, A Life Interrupted, which premiered on Lifetime television.[7]

At the 2008 Collectormania 13 Convention in Milton Keynes, UK

Thompson guest-starred on the show Head Case in January 2008. She appeared in the TV film Final Approach, which debuted in the U.S. on May 24, 2008.[8] Her film credits include Exit Speed, Spy School, Splinterheads, and Adventures of a Teenage Dragon Slayer. She starred in the television movie The Christmas Clause, which received good reviews and ratings.

Thompson stars in Mystery Case Files: Shadow Lake, an adventure game released in November 2012 by Big Fish Games.[9] Thompson's daughter Madeline Deutch plays as a paranormal television-series host in it.

Since 2011, Thompson has starred in the ABC Family series Switched at Birth, about a family realizing their 16-year-old daughter is not biologically theirs and was switched with another baby at the hospital.

In 2014, Thompson was a competitor on the nineteenth season of Dancing with the Stars. She was paired with professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev.[10] The couple was eliminated in the quarterfinals, finishing sixth place.[11] She also played Irene Steele in the 2014 film Left Behind.[12]

Personal life[edit]

She has been married to film director Howard Deutch since 1989. They met on the set of Some Kind of Wonderful (1987).[5]

Thompson and Deutch have two daughters, Madelyn and Zoey, with whom she sang on stage in the Bye Bye Birdie production for the 16th annual Alzheimer's Association "A Night at Sardi's" in March 2008.[13]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1985 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Back to the Future Nominated
1987 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Some Kind of Wonderful Won
1990 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Back to the Future Part II Won
1995 People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series Caroline in the City Won
1996 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
2014 American Movie Awards Best Actress The Trouble with the Truth Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Lea Thompson". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on September 11, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ "'Caroline in the City' still a smalltown girl". Post-Bulletin. Rochester, Minnesota. January 15, 1998. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Lea Thompson: Cabin Fever". PremierGuideMedia.com. July 2011. Archived from the original on October 19, 2015. Retrieved August 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Lea Thompson at AllMovie
  5. ^ a b c Harris, Will (February 21, 2012). "Random Roles: Lea Thompson". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  6. ^ "1996 Winners". People's Choice Awards. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015. 
  7. ^ Marilyn Moss (22 April 2007). "A Life Interrupted". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  8. ^ Lea Thompson Dishes on Hallmark's Final Approach – Celebrity and Entertainment News Archived 2008-05-29 at the Wayback Machine., TVGuide.com
  9. ^ Mystery Case Files: Shadow Lake announced at http://www.bigfishgames.com/blog/mystery-case-files-shadow-lake-announced/
  10. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth; Wagmeister, Elizabeth (4 September 2014). "'Dancing With The Stars': Season 19 Celebrity Contestants Revealed". 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2014-11-11. 
  12. ^ Rebecca Ford (9 September 2013). "Lea Thompson Joins 'Left Behind' Reboot (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 January 2017. 
  13. ^ Namkung, Victoria (March 6, 2008). "Stars break out in song to honor of David E. Kelley's Alzheimer's portrayal". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]