Lea Thompson

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Lea Thompson
Lea Thompson February 2015 crop.JPG
Lea Thompson at the Paramount Theatre in February 2015
Born Lea Katherine Thompson
(1961-05-31) May 31, 1961 (age 54)
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, Rochester, Minnesota)[1] is an American actress, television director, and television producer. She is best 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 she is known for include All the Right Moves, The Beverly Hillbillies, Howard the Duck, Jaws 3-D, Red Dawn, and Some Kind of Wonderful. Since 2011 she has co-starred as Kathryn Kennish in the ABC Family series Switched at Birth.


Early life[edit]

Thompson was born in Rochester, Minnesota,[1] one of five children of Clifford and Barbara Barry Thompson.[2] 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]Feeling she was not tall enough to become a prima ballerina, 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 significant 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, 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. 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 both 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]

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 TV film, A Life Interrupted, which premiered on Lifetime Television.

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.[7] 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.[8] 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 Dancing with the Stars: season 19. She was paired with professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev.[9] The couple was eliminated in the quarterfinals, finishing sixth place.[10] She also played Irene Steele in Left Behind.

Personal life[edit]

Thompson has been married to film director Howard Deutch since 1989. They first met on the set of the 1987 film Some Kind of Wonderful.[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.[11] Both daughters are actresses.


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
1985 Back to the Future Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
1987 Some Kind of Wonderful Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Won
1990 Back to the Future Part II Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Won
1995 Caroline in the City People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series Won
1996 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
1997 OFTA Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2014 The Trouble with the Truth American Movie Awards Best Actress 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. ^ Lea Thompson Dishes on Hallmark's Final Approach – Celebrity and Entertainment News, TVGuide.com
  8. ^ Mystery Case Files: Shadow Lake announced at http://www.bigfishgames.com/blog/mystery-case-files-shadow-lake-announced/
  9. ^ http://hollywoodlife.com/2014/09/04/dancing-with-the-stars-season-19-cast-dwts-celebrities/
  10. ^ http://m.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/dwts-season-19-quarterfinals-recap-tommy-peta-escape-elimination-2014101
  11. ^ Stars break out in song to honor of David E. Kelley's Alzheimer's portrayal – By Victoria Namkung, Special for USA TODAY (Posted 3/6/2008)- USATODAY.com

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]