Meredith Baxter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Meredith Baxter
Baxter at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in 2014
Meredith Ann Baxter

(1947-06-21) June 21, 1947 (age 76)
Other namesMeredith Baxter Birney
EducationInterlochen Center for the Arts
  • Actress
  • producer
Years active1971–present
Robert Lewis Bush
(m. 1966; div. 1969)
(m. 1974; div. 1989)
(m. 1995; div. 2000)
Nancy Locke
(m. 2013)

Meredith Ann Baxter (born June 21, 1947) is an American actress and producer. She is known for her roles on the CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie (1972–1973), ABC drama series Family (1976–1980) and the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989). A five-time Emmy Award nominee, one of her nominations was for playing the title role in the 1992 TV film A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story.

Early life[edit]

Baxter was born on June 21, 1947, in South Pasadena, California, the daughter of actress, director and producer Whitney Blake and Tom Baxter, a radio announcer.[citation needed] After her parents were divorced in 1953, Baxter and her two brothers, Richard (born 1944) and Brian (born 1946), were raised by their mother in Pasadena. Her second stepfather was situation comedy writer Allan Manings.[1]

Baxter was educated at James Monroe High School before transferring to Hollywood High School.[2] During her senior year, she attended Interlochen Center for the Arts as a voice major, but returned to Hollywood High, where she graduated in 1965.[3]


Early years[edit]

Baxter got her first appearance in television in 1970 on an episode of The Partridge Family in its second season. She later appeared in 1972 as one of the stars of Bridget Loves Bernie, a CBS television network situation comedy. The series was canceled after one season. Her co-star, David Birney, became her second husband in 1974. Until they were divorced in 1989, she was credited as "Meredith Baxter Birney", under which name she became widely known in 1976 on Family. She played the role of Nancy Lawrence Maitland and received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1977 and 1978). In 1976 she played the wife of White House staffer Hugh W. Sloan Jr. in All the President's Men.

1980s and 1990s[edit]

Baxter in 1977

After Family ended, she starred with Annette O'Toole and Shelley Hack in Vanities (1981), a television production of the comedy-drama stage play about the lives, loves and friendship of three Texas cheerleaders starting from high school to post-college graduation; it aired as a part of Standing Room Only, a series on the premium television channel HBO.[4]

In 1982, Baxter landed the role of Elyse Keaton, the former flower child matriarch of the Keaton family on the NBC sitcom Family Ties. In 1986, during her time on Family Ties, Baxter earned critical acclaim for her dramatic performance as Kate Stark in the NBC television film Kate's Secret, about a seemingly "perfect" suburban housewife and mother who is secretly suffering from bulimia nervosa. Following Family Ties, Baxter produced and starred in television films. She portrayed a psychopathic kidnapper in The Kissing Place (1990) and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special for her work in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992), based on the true story of Betty Broderick, a divorcée who was convicted of murder in the shooting of her ex-husband and his young wife. For her work on the television film My Breast (1994), she received a special award for public awareness from the National Breast Cancer Coalition. In 1997, Baxter once again played the mother of a character played by Michael J. Fox (who portrayed her son, Alex P. Keaton, on Family Ties), this time in two episodes of Spin City.

Since 2000[edit]

In 2005, she began appearing in television commercials for Garden State Life Insurance Company. In 2006, she temporarily co-hosted—with Matt LauerToday, the NBC morning news and talk show. In 2007, she made a guest appearance on What About Brian, an ABC drama series. That same year, she also made several appearances as the dying mother of Detective Lilly Rush on Cold Case, a CBS police procedural series. In recent years, Baxter created a skin care line called Meredith Baxter Simple Works, which raises funds for Baxter's breast cancer research foundation.

Baxter was the guest speaker at the 2008 Southern Commencement for National University in La Jolla, California, and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the university.[5]

On March 1, 2011, Baxter's memoir, titled Untied, was published.[6] In the book, she details her early life, her unhappy and in some cases abusive marriages, her struggles with and recovery from alcoholism, and her realization that she is a lesbian. The book became a New York Times bestseller.[7]

She is also a spokesperson for the senior mobile service provider Consumer Cellular. She voiced the character "Elise Sr." in Dan Vs.. In April 2013, it was announced that Baxter would be in the season 4 finale episode of Glee, along with Patty Duke, as a mentor to Darren Criss's character Blaine Anderson and Chris Colfer's character, Kurt Hummel.[8] She also made a guest appearance on the ABC Family/Freeform series Switched at Birth as the widowed mother of Kathryn Kennish (portrayed by Lea Thompson).

On August 4, 2014, producers announced that Baxter would be joining The Young and the Restless as Maureen, Nikki Newman's new drinking buddy, a "charming, intelligent, middle-class woman who has always aspired to a more privileged life than she has had". Baxter started appearing on the program on September 8. She also played the mother to "Stich" Raybourne and Kelly Andrews.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Marriages and children[edit]

Baxter and Birney in Bridget Loves Bernie (1972)
Baxter in September 1990

Baxter has been married four times and has five children.[10][11][12][13]

  • Robert Lewis Bush (1966–1971, divorce); Children: Theodore Justin "Ted" Bush (born May 10, 1967) and Eva Whitney Bush (born August 6, 1969)
  • David Birney (1974–1989, divorce); Children: Kathleen Jeanne "Kate" Birney (born December 5, 1974), and twins, Mollie Elizabeth Birney and Peter David Edwin Birney (born October 2, 1984)
  • Michael Blodgett (1995–2000, divorce)
  • Nancy Locke (2013–present)

On December 2, 2009, she came out as a lesbian during an interview with Matt Lauer on Today, and on the Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius-XM OutQ 102,[11][12] claiming that accepting her sexual orientation helped her understand why, in part, previous relationships with men had failed.[14]

On March 1, 2011, while promoting a memoir, Baxter alleged that ex-husband David Birney had emotionally and physically abused her. Birney denied the allegations. ABC News reported that:

Meredith Baxter says in a new book, Untied, that she was a victim of emotional and physical abuse.

Baxter, the actress best known for playing hippie mom Elyse Keaton on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, said that the abuser was her then-husband David Birney, who denied the allegations.

In her memoir, Baxter alleges that Birney hit her more than once. "It was so sudden and unexpected, I couldn't tell you which hand hit me, or even how hard," she writes. "I do recall thinking, 'I'd better not get up because he's going to hit me again.'"

She writes that she coped with the marital violence by drinking heavily, but has been sober since 1990 (the year after she and Birney divorced).[15]

Regarding the fact that Baxter's marriage to Birney lasted throughout the entire seven seasons that she worked on Family Ties, ABC News reported,

Baxter said that her work helped her cope and she did not share her personal story with others. "You learn to compartmentalize," she said on NBC. "When I got to the [television] studio, my home life was not happening. Nobody knew anything. I didn't have a social life. I did my work, I went home."[15]

The day after Baxter discussed Birney on the Today Show, she traveled to Chicago to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show for further discussion of the topics covered in her memoir.[16] Winfrey's staff had arranged for Family Ties co-star Michael Gross to surprise Baxter on camera. Gross confirmed the assumption that Baxter had made throughout their seven years of working on the sitcom, that no one connected with the series had known or suspected that Baxter's husband was abusing her at the time. Gross was affectionate with Baxter on camera and expressed sorrow that she had endured such an ordeal for so long.[16] Birney vehemently denied the claims that he had abused Baxter.[17]


Baxter is a vegetarian.[18]

Health issues[edit]

Baxter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. After treatment, she made a full recovery.[6]


Chad Everett and Baxter in 1975
Year Title Role
1972 Stand Up and Be Counted Tracy
1972 Ben Eve Garrison
1976 All the President's Men Debbie Sloan
1976 Bittersweet Love Patricia
1990 Jezebel's Kiss Virginia De Leo
1999 Elevator Seeking Ann
2003 Devil's Pond Kate
2005 Paradise Texas Liz Cameron
2005 The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green Harper Green
2008 The Onion Movie Cooking Show Chef
2010 Airline Disaster President Harriet Franklin
2013 Reading Writing and Romance Mrs Wenders
2014 Letter to Anita: The Ronni Sanlo Story Herself
2019 Undateable John Beatrice
Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Young Lawyers Gloria 1 episode
1971 The Doris Day Show April 1 episode — repackaging of unsold sitcom pilot "Young Love"
1970 The Partridge Family Jenny 1 episode
1972 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Ann Glover 1 episode
1972–1973 Bridget Loves Bernie Bridget Fitzgerald Steinberg 24 episodes
1973 The Invasion of Carol Enders Carol Enders television film
1973 Doc Elliot Jenny 1 episode
1973 The Cat Creature Rena Carter ABC television film
1974 Barnaby Jones Jenny Sutherland 1 episode
1974 The Stranger Who Looks Like Me Joanne Denver ABC television film
1974 Young Love April CBS sitcom pilot, aired long after production
1974–1975 Medical Center Paula
2 episodes
1975 Target Risk Linda Flayly NBC television film
1975 The Imposter Julie Watson NBC television film
1975 The Streets of San Francisco Jodi Dixon 1 episode
1975 The Night That Panicked America Linda Davis ABC television film
1975 Medical Story Erica Schiff
2 episodes
1975 McMillan & Wife Faye Leonard 1 episode
1976 City of Angels Mary Kingston 3 episodes
1976 Wide World of Mystery 1 episode: "Terror in the Night"
1976 Police Woman Liz Robson 1 episode
1976–1980 Family Nancy Lawrence Maitland 45 episodes
1977–1982 The Love Boat Sandy Rytell 3 episodes
1978 Little Women Meg March NBC television miniseries
1979 The Family Man Mercedes Cole CBS television film
1980 Beulah Land Lauretta Pennington NBC miniseries
1981 Vanities Joanne HBO televised presentation of stage production
1981 The Two Lives of Carol Letner Carol Letner CBS television film
1982 Take Your Best Shot Carol Marriner CBS television film
1982 Love Boat Fran S6 E1 and 2
1982–1989 Family Ties Elyse Keaton 171 episodes
1985 The Rape of Richard Beck Barbara McKee ABC television film
1985 Family Ties Vacation Elyse Keaton NBC television film
1986 Kate's Secret Kate Stark NBC television film
1987 The Long Journey Home Maura Wells CBS television film
1988 The Diaries of Adam and Eve Eve television film
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Elyse Keaton television special
1988 Winnie Winnie NBC television film
1989 She Knows Too Much Samantha White NBC television film
1990 The Kissing Place Florence Tulane USA Network television film
1990 Burning Bridges Lynn Hollinger ABC television film
1991 Bump in the Night Martha Tierney RHI Entertainment Television Movie
1992 A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story Betty Broderick CBS television films
1992 Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick - The Last Chapter Betty Broderick CBS television films
Sequel to A Woman Scorned
1992 Stolen Love DeeDee ABC Television film
1993 Darkness Before Dawn Mary Ann Guard NBC television film
also co-executive producer
1993 CBS Schoolbreak Special — Other Mothers Paula Hensen 1 episode; won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role
1994 For the Love of Aaron Margaret Gibson television film
1994 One More Mountain Margaret Reed ABC television film
1994 My Breast Joyce Wadler CBS television film
also co-executive producer
1995 Betrayed: A Story of Three Women Amanda Nelson ABC television film
also co-executive producer
1996 The Faculty Flynn Sullivan 13 episodes
also executive producer
1996 After Jimmy Maggie Stapp television film
1997 Dog's Best Friend Cow (voice) television film
1997 The Inheritance Beatrice Hamilton television film
1997 Let Me Call You Sweetheart D.A. Kerry McGrath The Family Channel television film
1997 Miracle in the Woods Sarah Weatherby television film
1997 Spin City Macy Flaherty 2 episodes: "Family Affair" (Part 1) and "Family Affair" (Part 2)
1999 Holy Joe Annie Cass CBS television film
1999 Down Will Come Baby Leah Garr CBS television film
1999 Miracle on the 17th Green Susan McKinley CBS television film
2000 The Wednesday Woman Muriel Davidson CBS television film
2001 A Mother's Fight for Justice Terry Stone Lifetime Television film
2001 Aftermath Carol television film
2001 Murder on the Orient Express Mrs. Caroline Hubbard television film
2002 A Christmas Visitor Carol Boyajian Hallmark Channel television film
2003 7th Heaven Mrs. Jones 1 episode: "Go Ask Alice"
2004 Half & Half Joan Tyrell 1 episode
2004 Angel in the Family Lorraine Hallmark Channel television film
2005 The Closer Congresswoman Simmons 1 episode: "Fantasy Date"
2006 Brothers & Sisters Margaret Packard 1 episode: "For the Children"
2006–2007 Cold Case Ellen Rush 5 episodes
2007 What About Brian Frankie 1 episode: "What About All That Glitters..."
2009 Bound by a Secret Ida Mae Hallmark Channel television film
2009–2011 Family Guy Elyse Keaton / herself / Carol 3 episodes
2009 Brothers TV Mom 1 episode: "Episode: Commercial – Coach DMV"
2010 We Have to Stop Now Judy Web series
Episode: "The Grass Is Always Greener"
2010 RuPaul's Drag U Herself 1 episode: Appeared as a guest judge
2011 The Oprah Winfrey Show Herself 1 episode
2011–2013 Dan Vs. Elise Sr. 4 episodes
2012–2015 Switched at Birth Bonnie Tamblyn Dixon 2 episodes
2012 Naughty or Nice Carol Kringle Hallmark Channel television film
2013 Glee Liz 1 episode
2013 The Neighbors Mother Joyner 2 episodes
2013 Shadow on the Mesa Emilie Rawlins Hallmark Drama television film
2014 The Young and the Restless Maureen Russell Recurring
2014–2015 Finding Carter Gammy 10 episodes
2015 Becoming Santa Jessica Claus Lifetime television film
2015 Being Mary Jane Simone Episode: "Some Things Are Black and White"
2016 Skirtchasers Lilah Samuels Television film
2016 Hell's Kitchen Herself Episode: "7 Chefs Compete"
2016 Code Black Joanna Episode: "Landslide"

Award nominations[edit]

Year Award Work Result
1977 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Family Nominated
1978 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Family Nominated
1992 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story Nominated
1994 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special CBS Schoolbreak Special Nominated
2007 TV Land Award Lady You Love To Watch Fight For Her Life in a Movie of the Week Nominated
2015 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series[19] The Young and the Restless Nominated


  • Baxter, Meredith (2011). Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering. New York: Crown Archetype. ISBN 978-0-307-71930-0. OCLC 768710740.


  1. ^ Brant, Marley (2006). Happier Days Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms, 1974-1984. Billboard. p. 212. ISBN 9780823089338.
  2. ^ Baxter, Meredith (2011). Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering. New York: Crown Archetype. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-307-71930-0. OCLC 768710740.
  3. ^ Baxter 2011 pp. 41,47
  4. ^ "TV View: CABLE OPERATORS INCREASINGLY LOOK TO THEATER". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2021
  5. ^ Johnson, Tony (July 28, 2008). "National University Commencement 2008 - Could Be Good, Could Be Bad" Archived July 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. The Herald; accessed December 2, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Meredith Baxter: The Ties that Bind". The Star. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  7. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction - March 27, 2011". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  8. ^ Dos Santos, Kristin (April 13, 2013). "Glee Casts Patty Duke and Meredith Baxter as Lesbian couple". E! News.
  9. ^ Logan, Michael (August 4, 2014). "Exclusive: Meredith Baxter Joins The Young and the Restless". TV Guide. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Staff writer "Biography for Meredith Baxter"
  11. ^ a b "Actress Meredith Baxter Out on SIRIUS XM 24/7 LGBT channel". Windy City Times. December 2, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Meredith Baxter: Why I Came Out". Sirius XM. December 2, 2009. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 5, 2013 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Nahas, Aili (December 8, 2013). "Meredith Baxter Marries Nancy Locke". People.
  14. ^ Rao, Vidya (December 2, 2009)"'Family Ties' Mom: I Am a Lesbian — Meredith Baxter Says She Has Been Dating Women for the Past Seven Years". Today (via MSNBC); accessed December 2, 2009.
  15. ^ a b James, Susan Donaldson (March 1, 2011). "Meredith Baxter Says Husband Abused Her". ABC News.
  16. ^ a b Oprah's web site documents Baxter's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show on March 2, 2011
  17. ^ Mike Fleeman,People March 4th 2011,"David Birney Denies Abuse Claims By Meredith Baxter"
  18. ^ Burros, Marian (1992). "Vegetarians are Coming and You May Be Among Them, If Prognosticators Have Guessed Right". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  19. ^ "The 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Award Nominations" (PDF). New York: and National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. March 31, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2015.

External links[edit]