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Lisa Pelikan

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Lisa Pelikan
Pelikan in 1977
Born (1954-07-12) July 12, 1954 (age 70)
Years active1974–2018
(m. 1981; div. 1984)
(m. 1986; div. 2006)
WebsiteOfficial website

Lisa Pelikan (born July 12, 1954)[1][2] is an American stage, film, and television actress. Born in Berkeley, California, Pelikan studied drama at the Juilliard School on a full scholarship. She subsequently made her Broadway debut in a 1977 production of Romeo and Juliet. The same year, she appeared as the younger version of Vanessa Redgrave's title character in the film Julia. She subsequently starred in the horror film Jennifer (1978). Her other film credits include Ghoulies (1985) and Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991).

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Pelikan was born July 12, 1954 in Berkeley, California,[a] the daughter of Helen L., a psychologist, and Robert G. Pelikan, an international economist who served as the minister-counselor from the United States at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.[5] She is of Czech descent.[6] At age six, Pelikan was diagnosed with a bone tumor in her leg, which was treated with surgery.[6]

Due to her father's work, Pelikan spent her childhood in several different countries, including France, Japan, and Italy, before returning to the United States when she was a teenager, settling in Bethesda, Maryland.[6] While attending high school in Maryland, Pelikan took an interest in ballet, but was unable to pursue it after the tumor in her leg recurred, requiring a second surgery that left her unable to walk for the entirety of her senior year of high school.[6]

Acting career[edit]

Pelikan shifted her focus to acting, and attended the Juilliard School in New York City with a full scholarship to its drama division.[7] Her first regular television work was as maid Kate Mahaffey on the CBS soap opera Beacon Hill (1975). After, she made her Broadway debut as Rosaline in a 1977 production of Romeo and Juliet.[8]

Pelikan had her feature film debut as the younger version of Vanessa Redgrave's title character in the drama Julia (1977).[9] Pelikan portrayed the title character of the horror film Jennifer (1978), starring opposite Nina Foch and John Gavin, and subsequently appeared as the lusty Lucy Scanlon in the television miniseries Studs Lonigan (1979), co-starring with Harry Hamlin, Colleen Dewhurst, and Brad Dourif.

Pelikan was married to actor Robert Harper from 1981 to 1984. In 1984, she had a supporting role in Jonathan Demme's Swing Shift, starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. She subsequently married actor Bruce Davison in 1986, and had one son, Ethan, born in 1996. Pelikan appeared in a leading role in the horror film Ghoulies (1985), and starred as the widowed mother Sarah Hargrave in the film sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991).

She won a Drama-Logue Award for her role in a Los Angeles-based production of Only a Broken String of Pearls (1995), a one-woman play about Zelda Fitzgerald by Willard Simms.[10][11] In 1998, she had a minor part in the thriller film Shadow of Doubt.[12]

In 2006, Pelikan and Davison divorced after 20 years of marriage.[5][13] In 2018, Pelikan earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from California State University, Long Beach.[14] As of 2022, she taught "Acting with the Camera" at HB Studio in New York City.[15]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1977 Julia Young Julia [12]
1978 Jennifer Jennifer Baylor [12]
1979 Jigsaw (L'Homme en colère) Anne
1984 The House of God Jo Miller [12]
1984 Swing Shift Violet
1985 Ghoulies Rebecca [12]
1990 Lionheart Helene [12]
1991 Return to the Blue Lagoon Sarah Hargrave [12]
1998 Shadow of Doubt Leslie Saxon [12]
2015 Circle Cancer Survivor


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1974 The Country Girl Nancy TV film
1975 Beacon Hill Kate Mahaffey Series regular
1975 Valley Forge Tavis TV film
1976 I Want to Keep My Baby! Miranda TV film
1977 Happy Days Michelle Episode: "The Graduation: Part 1"
1977 Kojak Jennifer Campbell Episode: "Lady in the Squadroom"
1977 The Best of Families Mary Margaret Rafferty TV miniseries [12]
1977 James at 15 Paisley Episodes: "Friends", "The Apple Tree, the Singing and the Gold"
1978 Perfect Gentlemen Annie Cavagnaro TV film
1978 True Grit: A Further Adventure Mattie Ross TV film
1979 Studs Lonigan Lucy Scanlon TV miniseries [12]
1979 The Last Convertible Rosamond Ardley TV miniseries [12]
1980 The Women's Room Kyla TV film
1981 The Best Little Girl in the World Gail Powell TV film
1983 Trapper John, M.D. Rachel Episode: "Life, Death and Vinnie Duncan" [12]
1984 This Is the Life Bonnie Episode: "Reprise for the Lord"
1984 Remington Steele Christy Cordaro Episode: "High Flying Steele" [12]
1985 A Bunny's Tale Lee TV film
1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Nurse Ellen Hatch Episode: "Night Fever"
1986 Hotel Laura Shafer Episode: "Enemies Within"
1986 Blacke's Magic Lenore Madden Episode: "Wax Poetic"
1986 The Equalizer Anne Fitzgerald / Diane Snyder Episode: "Counterfire" [12]
1987 Cagney & Lacey Frances Gorelik Episode: "Divine Couriers"
1989 Murder, She Wrote Jill Goddard Episode: "Prediction: Murder"
1991 Sons and Daughters Melanie Episode: "Melanie"
1991 Into the Badlands Sarah Carstairs TV film
1991 In the Heat of the Night Jeanette Marshall Episode: "Obsession" [12]
1991 Murder, She Wrote Allison Franklin Episode: "Terminal Connection" [12]
1992 Brooklyn Bridge Bernice Episode: "Rainy Day" [12]
1993 Jack's Place Lizzie Episode: "The Pipes Are Calling"
1997 Color of Justice Betty TV film
2001 The Guardian Carol Ritter Episode: "The Men from the Boys"
2001 Off Season Ashley Manson TV film
2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Garrison Episode: "Waste" [12]
2002 For the People Amanda Jacobs Episode: "Nascent"
2003 Strong Medicine Babs Darner Episode: "The Hero Heart"
2007 Marlowe Laura Devin TV film
2007 Sacrifices of the Heart Virginia Doyle TV film
2010 10,000 Days Anna Hesse Regular role (12 episodes)
2013 Rake Lorraine Wilson Episode: "1.1" [12]
2014 10,000 Days Anna Hesse Television film

Stage credits[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1975 The Elephant in the House Francesca Circle Theatre, New York City [16]
1977 Romeo and Juliet Rosaline Circle in the Square Theatre [8]
1984 Love's Labour's Lost Katharine Circle Repertory Theatre [16]
1995 Only a Broken String of Pearls Zelda Fitzgerald Theatre Geo, Los Angeles [17]
2000 Panache Kathleen Trafalger The Players Theatre [16]
2013 The Normal Heart Dr. Emma Brookner The Fountain Theatre [18]


  1. ^ Some sources state Pelikan was born in Rome, Italy, or Paris, France,[1] both locations where she resided as a child due to her father's profession. However, other sources indicate she was born in Berkeley, California.[3] This is corroborated by the California Birth Index, which lists a Lisa Pelikan born in Alameda County, California on July 12, 1954,[4] her documented birthdate.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c "Pelikan, Lisa". Encyclopedia.com. Cengage. Archived from the original on October 8, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Willis, John (1982). Theatre World 1980–1981. Vol. 37. New York City, New York: Crown Publishing Group. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-517-54344-3.
  3. ^ "Lisa Pelikan". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on October 8, 2023.
  4. ^ "The Birth of Lisa Pelikan". California Birth Index. Archived from the original on October 8, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Robert Harper Weds Lisa Pelikan, Actress". The New York Times. May 31, 1981. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Kleiner, Dick (July 20, 1978). "Lisa Pelikan: Tougher, older than she appears on screen". Fond Du Lac Commonwealth Reporter. Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Kuebelbeck, Amy (July 20, 1991). "Latest 'Lagoon' Star Lisa Pelikan Makes Impressive First Impressions". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ a b "Romeo and Juliet (1977)". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020.
  9. ^ Variety Staff (December 31, 1976). "Julia". Variety. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Collins, Scott. "Theatre Review: Only a Broken String of Pearls". Los Angeles Times. March 3, 1995
  11. ^ Favre, Jeff (October 6, 2009). "From Cast to Cast". Backstage.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Lisa Pelikan Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  13. ^ [1] Provenzano, Tom. "PROFILE: Busy Within Reason - Veteran actor Bruce Davison finds that more work doesn't necessarily mean less time with his loved ones". Backstage. February 21, 2001.
  14. ^ Pelikan, Lisa (2018). Advanced Acting Technique Integration: A Capstone Course Proposal (Thesis). California State University, Long Beach. ISBN 978-0-438-19642-1. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  15. ^ "Lisa Pelikan, Instructor". HB Studios. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c "Lisa Pelikan". Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Meeks, Christopher (April 3, 1995). "Only a Broken String of Pearls". Variety. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew (September 18, 2013). "Tim Cummings, Bill Brochtrup, Matt Gottlieb, Ray Paolantonio, Lisa Pelikan Explore The Normal Heart in L.A." Playbill. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020.

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