Ruehl in 2009
Mercedes J. Ruehl
February 28, 1948
Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, United States
Mercedes J. Ruehl (born February 28, 1948) is an American theater, television, and film actor. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1992 for The Fisher King, and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1991 for Lost in Yonkers. She also received Tony Award nominations for The Shadow Box (1995) and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (2002). Her other film appearances include Big (1988), Married to the Mob (1988), Lost in Yonkers (1993), and Last Action Hero (1993).
Ruehl was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City, the daughter of Mercedes J. Ruehl, a schoolteacher, and Vincent Ruehl, an FBI agent. She was raised Catholic. Her father was of German and Irish descent and her mother was of Cuban and Irish ancestry. Ruehl attended College of New Rochelle and graduated in 1969. She is married to painter David Geiser, with whom she adopted a son, Jake (born 1995). She had another son, Christopher, whom she gave up for adoption in 1976 when she was 28. She reunited in the late 1990s with Christopher when he turned 21, and he later became Jake's godfather.
Ruehl began her career in regional theatre with the Denver Center Theatre Company, taking odd jobs between engagements. Her first starring role on Broadway came in 1984's I'm Not Rappaport. She then went on to win the 1984 Obie Award for her performance in The Marriage of Bette and Boo and twenty years later, an Obie for Woman Before a Glass. She also received a 1991 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers and continued her role in the show during its tour with co-star Mercedes McCambridge. Her performances in two other plays earned her two other Tony nominations: in 1995, as Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) for a revival of The Shadow Box; and in 2002, as Best Actress (Play) for Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?.
Her most acclaimed film role was in The Fisher King; her performance in the film earned her the 1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an American Comedy Award, a Boston Society of Film Critics Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and a Golden Globe. Earlier she had won the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Married to the Mob. She played KACL station manager Kate Costas in five episodes of Frasier, and had a major role in the made-for-TV film All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. She is the first Cuban-American female Academy Award winner. In 2005, she (along with Esai Morales) received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. She later played the mother of main character Vincent Chase in HBO's Entourage.
In 2009, Ruehl returned to the Broadway stage in Manhattan Theater Club's production of Richard Greenberg's The American Plan playing the role of Eva Adler. The production opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre and the limited engagement ran From January 22 until March 22. In his rave review in The New York Times, Ben Brantley called Ruehl's performance "masterly". Ruehl next appeared in the drama/horror film What Ever Happened to Barker Daniels?, which was released in 2009. In January 2012, Ruehl starred in Sarah Treem's play The How and The Why, directed by Emily Mann at McCarter Theatre of Princeton University.
Ruehl appeared in the role of Ma in Harvey Fierstein's revamped and renamed revival of his play Torch Song Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theater. The play began previews on September 26, and opened officially on October 19, 2017. The production later transferred to Broadway.
Though not a singer herself, Ruehl was involved in the production of the album Haunted by Poe; she also reads passages from the book House of Leaves by Poe's brother Mark Z. Danielewski on the CD Don't be Scared, issued to cross-promote both projects.
|1976||Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands||American girl in casino||Film debut
|1981||Four Friends||Woman in Taxi|
|1987||Radio Days||Ad Man|
|84 Charing Cross Road||Kay|
|The Secret of My Succe$s||Sheila|
|Leader of the Band||Miss Cooper|
|Married to the Mob||Connie Russo|
|1989||Slaves of New York||Samantha|
|Crimes and Misdemeanors||Party Guest||Uncredited|
|1990||Crazy People||Dr. Liz Baylor|
|1991||Another You||Elaine/Mimi Kravitz|
|The Fisher King||Anne|
|1993||Lost in Yonkers||Bella Kurnitz|
|Last Action Hero||Irene Madigan|
|1994||On Hope||Wendy||Short film|
|1997||Roseanna's Grave||Roseanna 'Rosa'|
|1999||The Minus Man||Jane|
|Out of the Cold||Tina|
|2000||What's Cooking?||Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Avila|
|More Dogs Than Bones||Victoria 'Vic' Galletti|
|The Amati Girls||Grace|
|2004||Zeyda and the Hitman||Esther|
|2010||Goldstar, Ohio||Adriana Rock||Short film|
|2014||Chu and Blossom||Mrs. Fefterg|
|2016||Good Business||Lorraine||Short film|
|1984||ABC Afterschool Specials||Sandy||Television debut
Episode: "Mom's on Strike"
|1985||Our Family Honor||Louise Taylor||Episode: "Homecoming"|
|1986||Kate & Allie||Millie||Episode: "Late Bloomer"
Credited as Mercedes Ruehle
|1990||The Cosby Show||Bernadette Foley||Episode: "The Moves"|
|1995||Indictment: The McMartin Trial||Lael Rubin||Television movie|
|1995–1996||Frasier||Kate Costas||Recurring role; 5 episodes|
|1997||North Shore Fish||Florence||Television movie|
|SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground||Leyla||Television movie
|1998||Gia||Kathleen Carangi||Television movie|
|2000||Mary Kay Letourneau: All American Girl||Jane Newhall||Television movie|
|The Lost Child||Rebecca||Television movie|
|2001||Mr. Life||Television movie|
|2002||Guilt by Association||Susan Walker||Television movie|
|Widows||Dolly Rawlins||Television miniseries|
|2004||Everyday Life||Television movie|
|1-800-Missing||Emmanuelle Baker||Episode: "These Dreams Before Me"|
|Bab Apple||Lorraine Gibbons||Television movie|
|2004–2009||Law & Order||Judge Clara Lloyd/Zina Rybakov||2 episodes|
|2005||Mom at Sixteen||Terry Jeffries||Television movie|
|2006||So Here's What Happened||Rochelle||Television movie|
|A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story||Sylvia Guerrero||Television movie|
|2006–2008||Entourage||Rita Chase||2 episodes|
|2007||Psych||Detective Goochberg||Episode: "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast"|
|2009||Loving Leah||Janice Lever||Television movie|
|2012||El Jefe||Delmi Rodriguez||Television movie|
|Luck||Renzo's Mother||Episode: "Episode Nine"|
|2013||Doubt||Mrs. Syd Newman||Television movie|
|Monday Mornings||Judge Beverly Natheson||Episode: "Wheels Within Wheels"|
|Star Spangled Banners||Rosalind Banner||Television movie|
|2015||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Lucia Barba||Episode: "December Solstice"|
|2016||Life in Pieces||Mia||Episode: "Hair Recital Rainbow Mom"|
|The Mysteries of Laura||Val Santiani||Episode: "The Mystery of the End of Watch"|
|2 Broke Girls||Olga||Episode: "And the Godmama Drama"|
|2017||NCIS||Marie Quinn||Episode: "A Bowl of Cherries"|
|2018||Bull (2016 TV series)||Judge Tessa Hudson||Episode: "Jury Duty"|
|2017–2018||Power||Connie Teresi||Recurring role; 7 episodes|
|1985||Coming of Age in Soho||Patricia||Public Theatre|
|1985||The Marriage of Bette and Boo||Joan Brennan||Public Theatre|
|1985–1988||I'm Not Rappaport||Clara||Booth Theatre|
|1988||American Notes||Karen||Public Theatre|
|1989||Other People's Money||Kate Sullivan||Minetta Lane Theatre|
|1991||Lost in Yonkers||Bella Kurnitz||Richard Rodgers Theater|
|1992||Antony and Cleopatra||Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt||Actors Theater|
|1994–1995||The Shadow Box||Beverly||Circle in the Square Theatre|
|1995||The Rose Tattoo||Serafina Delle Rose||Circle in the Square Theatre|
|2000||The Vagina Monologues||Monologist||Westside Theatre|
|2000–2001||Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?||Martha||Guthrie Theater|
|2002||The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?||Stevie||John Golden Theatre|
|2005||Woman Before a Glass||Peggy Guggenheim||The Promenade Theater|
|2009||The American Plan||Eva Adler||Samuel J. Friedman Theatre|
|2010||Edward Albee's Occupant||Louise Nevelson||Peter Norton Space|
|2012||The How and the Why||Zelda Kahn||McCarter Theatre|
|2017–2019||Torch Song||Ma Beckoff||Off Broadway: Second Stage Theater; Broadway: Helen Hayes Theatre|
Awards and nominations
- Trescott, Jacqueline (26 March 1992). "Mercedes Ruehl, Driven; The Manic Actress On the Road to Oscar". The Washington Post. HighBeam Research. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- "Mercedes Ruehl biography (1948?- )". Film Reference.com. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Stark, John; Hutchings, David (5 September 1988). "Playing a Gangster's Spitfire Wife, Mercedes Ruehl Heists the Spotlight in Married to the Mob". People. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Ruehl, Mercedes. Casting a new light on a dark subject - novelist Cynthia Ozick - Interview. Interview. August 1994. FindArticles.com. Archived 2006-12-14 at the Wayback Machine
- Corliss, Richard (6 April 2002). "That Old Feeling: The Oscar Race". Time. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Buckley, Michael. "STAGE TO SCREENS: Mercedes Ruehl, the Macy-Mamet Connection and Remembering Brad Sullivan". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- "About CNR". College of New Rochelle. Archived from the original on 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- "Mercedes Ruehl". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- "Newspaper columnist Peter Ruehl dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- "Biography: Mercedes Ruehl". American Theatre Wing. February 2005. Archived from the original on 2013-05-12. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Jones, Kenneth (22 January 2009). "Ruehl & Rabe Are Mother and Daughter in Broadway's American Plan, Opening Jan. 22". Playbill. Playbill.com. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Jones, Kenneth (19 February 2009). "Broadway's American Plan Is Extended to March 22". Playbill. Playbill.com. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- "Rapunzel in the Catskills". The New York Times. NYTimes.com. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Filichia, Peter (18 January 2011). "'The How and the Why' review: Princeton play premiere proves to be all-inclusive success". The Star-Ledger. Newark, New Jersey: nj.com. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Rickwald, Bethany. " 'Torch Song', Starring Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl, Extends" theatermania.com, September 14, 2017