Rita Wilson

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Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Wilson in 2019
Born
Margarita Ibrahimoff

(1956-10-26) October 26, 1956 (age 63)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Citizenship
  • American
  • Greek[1]
Occupation
  • Actress
  • producer
  • singer
  • songwriter
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)
(m. 1988)
Children2
RelativesColin Hanks (stepson)
Musical career
Genres
Labels
  • Sing It Loud Records
Associated acts

Rita Wilson (born Margarita Ibrahimoff; October 26, 1956)[2] is an American-Greek actress, singer, songwriter, and producer. Her film appearances include Volunteers (1985), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Now and Then (1995), Jingle All the Way (1996), The Story of Us (1999), Runaway Bride (1999), It's Complicated (2009), and Larry Crowne (2011), and she appeared in the television series The Good Wife and Girls. Wilson has performed on Broadway, and has produced several films, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). As a singer/songwriter, Wilson has released the albums AM/FM, Rita Wilson, Bigger Picture, and Halfway to Home. In March 2019, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[3]

Early life[edit]

Rita Wilson was born as Margarita Ibrahimoff in Hollywood, California[2][4] where she grew up.[3] Her mother, Dorothea Tzigkou, was Greek, raised in Sotirë near Dropull i Sipërm in Albania, close to the border with Greece.[5] Her father, Hassan Halilov Ibrahimoff (1920–2009), was a Bulgarian Muslim (Pomak) born in Oraio (Breshtene), Greece, close to the border with Bulgaria. Her father's family moved to Bulgaria when he was a child. He moved from Bulgaria to the US in 1949.[6][7][6] He converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity upon his marriage and changed his name to Allan Wilson in 1960,[6] choosing his name after a local street. Wilson was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith.[8] In addition to Bulgarian, her father could speak "Russian, Turkish, Polish, Greek, a little bit of Italian, a little bit of French" according to Wilson's husband Tom Hanks, who said he modeled his portrayal of the character Viktor Navorski in the film The Terminal on his father-in-law.[9]

Career[edit]

Wilson at the HBO Post-60th Primetime Emmy Awards Party in 2008

Film, television, theater[edit]

Wilson's career began with a guest appearance on The Brady Bunch in the 1972 episode "Greg's Triangle," where she played Pat Conway, one of the candidates running against Marcia for head cheerleader.[10] She also twice appeared on M*A*S*H in 1982 as Nurse Lacey[11] as well as the sitcoms Three's Company and Bosom Buddies starring her future husband Tom Hanks,[12] and as Hester Rose Crane, the deceased mother of Frasier Crane on Frasier.[13] She has appeared in numerous movies, including Volunteers, Barbarians at the Gate, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Mixed Nuts, Sleepless in Seattle, Now and Then, That Thing You Do!, Jingle All the Way, Runaway Bride, Invisible Child, The Story of Us, Raise Your Voice, It's Complicated, and Larry Crowne.[citation needed]

On television, she played Susan Borman, wife of astronaut Frank Borman, in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. She guest starred in many series, including Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Body of Proof, and had recurring roles on The Good Wife and Girls.[citation needed]

She was instrumental in helping actress-playwright Nia Vardalos get the movie deal for My Big Fat Greek Wedding,[14] which became the highest-grossing independent film of all time and for which she served as a producer.[15] Wilson produced two stage productions of the play, as they were developing the film. A sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which Wilson co-produced and in which she had a supporting role, was released in 2016.[16]

Wilson's own Greek heritage was honored in 2016 when the Greek Postal Service ELTA commemorated her with a stamp along with five others. The other four depicted on stamps were the filmmaker Costa-Gavras, engineer and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, journalist George Stephanopoulos, and billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis.[17] In 2008, Wilson produced the film Mamma Mia!,[18] and eight years later its sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.[19]

In 2006, Wilson made her Broadway debut where she performed the role of Roxie Hart in the revival of Chicago.[20] In 2015, she returned to Broadway in Larry David's sold-out original play, Fish in the Dark, playing his wife, Brenda.[12] Off Broadway, she played various roles in Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron's play Love, Loss and What I Wore. She reprised her roles in the Los Angeles production at the Geffen Playhouse.[21] Also at the Geffen, Wilson performed in Daniel Margulies' Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Dinner with Friends, directed by Tony Award winner Dan Sullivan.[22][23] Wilson originated the role of "Mama" in the world premier of Lisa Loomer's play, Distracted, at the Mark Taper Forum, also in Los Angeles.[24]

Music[edit]

Wilson's long-standing interest in singing led her to record a debut solo album, AM/FM, which she released on May 8, 2012, on the Decca Records label. The album featured classics from the 1960s/70s, including a cover of "Wichita Lineman" that she performed with the song's writer-composer Jimmy Webb. She also performed a duet of "All I Have To Do Is Dream” with former Soundgarden and Audioslave musician Chris Cornell. Additional harmonies on the album come from Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, and Patti Scialfa (who also produced the track “Come See About Me” with Ron Aniello).[25][26]

At the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, DC on December 4, 2014, she performed for President Obama and Michelle Obama, and served as co-host of the event.[27]

In 2016, Wilson began writing her own songs with the help of co-writer, the Grammy-nominated Kara Dioguardi.[28][29] The first song she wrote and sang was "Grateful" (later appearing on the self-titled album, Rita Wilson) with Dioguardi and Jason Reeves.[30] Earlier, in 2014, Wilson wrote the song "Bad Things" with Matt Nathanson, for the Scott Eastwood film, Dawn Patrol, in which she also starred.[31][32]

That same year, her second album, Rita Wilson, was released. Wilson co-wrote all the songs on the album with Dan Wilson, Kara Dioguardi, Jason Reeves, Darrell Brown,[12]Sugarland's Kristian Bush, Richard Marx,[33] Lauren Christy, Mikal Blue, Nathan Chapman,[28] Jason Wade, Stephanie Chapman, Ron Aniello,[34] Jillian Jacqueline, Jessi Alexander, JR Randall, Yugomir Lonich, Blair Daly, and Kelly Archer.[35] The song “Strong Tonight” was performed by Connie Britton on the ABC television show, Nashville, in the opening of the episode in which it was included.[12]

The New York Times said: “Ms. Wilson has a catch in her voice that conveys yearning and potential heartbreak behind a facade of cheer.”[36]

To support the release of Rita Wilson, she opened on a tour with Chicago; she has said she is a lifelong fan of the band. "I am beyond thrilled to be opening for Chicago, a band who has made up so much of my musical life. Whether I was listening to the band while skiing down a slope or driving in my car, I was always instantly transported to the joy of their melodies and songwriting,” Wilson said.[37][33]

A year later, Wilson presented "Liner Notes: Songwriters, Stories and Music with Rita Wilson and Friends", where she sang, and also invited other singer/songwriters to participate in the event. The show, which took place at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, included Patty Smyth, Desmond Child, Jeff Barry, Kristian Bush, among others.[18]

Wilson in 2018

With her third album, Bigger Picture, Wilson drew directly from her personal life for its theme. The album, released September 28, 2018, reunited her with producer Fred Mollin (Johnny Mathis, Jimmy Webb, and Kris Kristofferson); the pair originally worked together on her debut album AM/FM in 2012. Wilson once again wrote originals such as the title track and others with Kristian Bush and Darrell Brown, as well as new partners The Warren Brothers, Lindy Robbins and Alex Reid. The set also included covers of Cat Stevens' "The Wind" and Burt Bacharach/Hal David's "What the World Needs Now is Love."[38]

Also, in 2018, Wilson's original song, “Heart Unknown”, was used in the indie film, Simple Wedding. She performed the song, which was co-written by Wilson along with Josh Alexander, Kara Dioguardi, and Mozella. In addition, she performed "Sometimes Love", co-written with Grammy winning producer David Hodges, for the independent film, Emmett, in which she also stars.[39]

On March 29, 2019, Wilson released her fourth album, Halfway to Home which included "Throw Me a Party", a song inspired by her survival from breast cancer.[40] Other songs were created during a writing workshop that partnered her with Mozella, Mitch Allan (Demi Lovato), Kara DioGuardi (Pink), Liz Rose and Krisian Bush.[41] Halfway to Home was co-produced by Nathan Chapman, who has worked regularly with Taylor Swift. "Halfway to Home finds Wilson pulling from musical traditions that revere deep storytelling (Southern California rock, classic Nashville country), which was a hallmark for her growing up," explained Rolling Stone.[42]

In the course of her music career, Wilson has performed her songs on Ellen,[43] The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Today.[44]

In March 2020, while filming in Australia, Wilson contracted COVID-19. While in self-quarantine and going "stir crazy", she filmed an Instagram video showing her rapping the Naughty by Nature song, "Hip Hop Hooray". The video went viral[45] and reached Naughty by Nature's Vin Rock. The two teamed up for a "Hip Hop Hooray" remix that benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.[46]

In July 2020, Wilson appeared on Jimmie Allen's Bettie James EP,[47] collaborating on the song "When This Is Over" with Tauren Wells and The Oak Ridge Boys.[48][49]

Journalism[edit]

Wilson has been a contributing editor to Harper's Bazaar magazine, writing over twenty-one articles.[50] She also started, and was Editor at Large, of a section on The Huffington Post called Huff/Post50, which explored issues and topics relative to people over fifty years old.[51] She has also written for O, The Oprah Magazine.[52]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson and Hanks at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989

Wilson married actor Tom Hanks in 1988. They have two sons, Chester and Truman.[53] Wilson has two stepchildren, Colin and Elizabeth Hanks. Wilson has two grandchildren.[54]

She is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.[55]

In April 2015, Wilson announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.[56] After a one-month hiatus, she returned to Larry David's Fish in the Dark Broadway show.[57]

On March 12, 2020, Hanks announced through his Instagram profile that the couple had contracted COVID-19 and were experiencing minor symptoms while he was shooting an upcoming film Elvis (as Colonel Tom Parker) with director Baz Luhrmann in Australia. They were admitted to the Gold Coast University Hospital.[58][59][60][61] On March 27, Wilson and her husband returned home to Los Angeles following their quarantine.[62]

Activism[edit]

In 2015, Wilson signed an open letter on which the ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures. The letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they serve as the head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa respectively. The G7 and AU were expected to set the priorities in development funding before a main UN summit in September 2015 that was to establish new development goals for the generation.[63]

Philanthropy[edit]

For over twenty years, Wilson and her husband, Tom Hanks, have been honorary co-chairs along with Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw of the Women's Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), specializing in raising money for women's cancers.[64] In 2016, WCRF joined forces with Evelyn Lauder's Breast Cancer Research Foundation.[citation needed] Wilson contributed to the Moffitt Cancer Center by donating "True Hearts" jewelry made of sterling silver and 14k gold.

Wilson has credited Rosie O'Donnell as inspiration for her charitable work, particularly with cancer and children's charities.[65] She and her husband have long supported the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles,[66] going back to 1989 when Wilson appeared as Celia in a production of As You Like It.[67] Their annual Simply Shakespeare event raises funds to support programs for underprivileged youth. Musicians at the fundraiser have included Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Ben Harper, Reba McEntire, and more.[citation needed]

In 2018, Wilson and Hanks were honored[68] with USC Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors For Humanity award in recognition of their "longstanding commitment to humanitarian causes and support of veterans".[69] The couple also contribute to other charities including AIDS Project Los Angeles,[70] and many more.

Wilson and her husband have also made significant contribution in helping the people who suffered from the Mati Fire in Greece.[71] This has earned her and Hanks an offer of honorary naturalization in Greece from the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos[71] on December 27, 2019.

Filmography[edit]

As actress[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1977 The Day It Came to Earth[72] Debbie
1980 Cheech and Chong's Next Movie Actress
1985 Volunteers Beth Wexler
1989 Teen Witch Dancer
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities P.R. Woman
1993 Sleepless in Seattle Suzy
1994 Mixed Nuts Catherine O'Shaughnessy
1995 Now and Then Chrissy DeWitt Williams
1996 That Thing You Do! Marguerite
1996 Jingle All the Way Liz Langston
1996 No Dogs Allowed[citation needed] Short film
1998 Psycho Caroline
1999 Runaway Bride Ellie Graham
1999 The Story of Us Rachel
2001 Perfume Roberta aka Dress to Kill
2001 The Glass House Grace Avery-Baker Uncredited[citation needed]
2002 Auto Focus Anne Crane
2004 Raise Your Voice Frances Fletcher
2005 The Chumscrubber Terri Bratley
2005 Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D Beta Station Commander Voice only
2006 Beautiful Ohio Judith Messerman
2009 My Life in Ruins Elinor
2009 Old Dogs Jenna
2009 It's Complicated Trisha
2011 The Art of Getting By Vivian Sargent
2011 Larry Crowne Wilma Q. Gammelgaard
2012 Jewtopia Arlene Lipschitz
2013 The Tutor[citation needed] Tina Short film
2014 Kiss Me Edith
2014 Dawn Patrol Shelia
2016 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Anna
2016 Brother Nature Cathy Turley
2018 Gloria Bell Vicky
2018 A Simple Wedding Maggie Baker
2019 Boy Genius Mary Locke
2020 Love Is Love Is Love Mary Kay

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1972 The Brady Bunch Pat Conway Episode: "Greg's Triangle"
1974 Movin' On Penny Episode: "The Cowhands"; uncredited
1977 Lou Grant Christine Farrell Episode: "Cophouse"; uncredited
1978 Flying High Debbie Episode: "Flying High"
1979 Hawaii Five-O Mary Ellen Klane Episode: "The Skyline Killer"
1979 A Man Called Sloane Kathy Episode: "The Venus Microbe"
1980 B. J. and the Bear Suzanne Episode: "The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful"
1981 Bosom Buddies Cindy Episode: "All You Need is Love"
1982 Mr. Merlin Beverly Episode: "Everything's Coming Up Daisies"
1982 M*A*S*H Nurse Lacey 2 episodes
1982–1983 Happy Days Barbara McManus / Roxanne 2 episodes
1983 Three's Company Agnes Platt Episode: "Alias Jack Tripper"
1984 Legmen Cathy Episode: "A Woman's Work"
1986 Who's the Boss? Shirley Episode: "Losers and Other Strangers"
1986 227 Dr. Peterson Episode: "Mary Nightingale"
1988 CBS Summer Playhouse China Seasons Episode: "Silent Whisper"
1988 Sonny Spoon Jolene Episode: "Blind Justice"
1988 Thirtysomething Adrienne Episode: "In Re: The Marriage of Weston"
1989–1990 Midnight Caller Connie Zymak 3 episodes
1989 Moonlighting Carla McCabe Episode: "Those Lips, Those Lies"
1990 WIOU Ellen Zaret Episode: "One Point, No Light"
1991 Tales from the Crypt Jess Gilcrist Episode: "Mournin' Mess"
1992 Civil Wars Margot Wilkenson Episode: "Tape Fear"
1993 Barbarians at the Gate Carolyne Roehm-Kravis Television film
1996 If These Walls Could Talk Leslie Television film; segment: "1996"
1998 Mad About You Lindsay Krbnsk Episode: "Separate Planes"
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Susan Borman 3 episodes
1999 Invisible Child Annie Beeman Television film
1999–2001 Frasier Mia Preston / Hester Crane 2 episodes
2001 Curb Your Enthusiasm Anne Michaelson Episode: "The Doll"
2003 My Big Fat Greek Life Cousin Ariana Episode: "Ariana"
2003 The Wild Thornberrys Kua (voice) Episode: "Look Who's Squawking"
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Bree Mazalon Episode: "Delinquent"
2011–2014 The Good Wife Viola Walsh 6 episodes
2012 Body of Proof Ruth Stone Episode: "Sympathy for the Devil"
2012 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself Episode: "Rita Wilson"
2013–2017 Girls Evie Michaels 7 episodes
2015 Full Circle Shelly Rezko 5 episodes
2016 Pitch Andrea Barton Episode: "Wear It"

As musical performer[edit]

Date Song Television Show
December 9, 2016 "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" Live @ YouTube Space LA
March 15, 2016 "Along For the Ride" The Ellen DeGeneres Show
October 31, 2017 "You're So Cold" Later... with Jools Holland
October 1, 2018 "Bigger Picture: Album Medley" Billboard Live Performance
October 5, 2018 "Bigger Picture" The Today Show
December 12, 2018 "Bigger Picture" Pickler & Ben
"Bigger Picture" Jimmy Kimmel Live!
April 1, 2019 "Throw Me a Party" The Late Late Show with James Corden
April 5, 2019 "Throw Me a Party" The Today Show
May 15, 2019 "Throw Me a Party" Pickler & Ben
February 14, 2020 "Throw Me a Party" TedXNashvilleWomen
April 5, 2020 "The Star-Spangled Banner" NASCAR on Fox
April 7, 2020 "Throw Me a Party" The Kelly Clarkson Show

As producer[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 My Big Fat Greek Wedding Producer Producers Guild of America Visionary Award
Nominated — Producers Guild of America Award for Motion Picture Producer of the Year
2003 My Big Fat Greek Life Executive producer TV series
2004 Connie and Carla Executive producer
2008 Mamma Mia! Executive producer
2009 My Life in Ruins Executive producer
2016 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Executive producer
2018 Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Executive producer
2018 A Simple Wedding Executive producer

Discography[edit]

Album Title Release Date Track Listing Songwriters
AM/FM May 8, 2012 "All I Have to Do Is Dream"
"Never My Love"
"Come See About Me
"Angel of the Morning"
"Walking in the Rain"
"Wichita Lineman"
"Cherish"
"You Were on My Mind"
"Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues"
"Love Has No Pride"
"Please Come to Boston"
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"
"Faithless Love"
"River"
"Every Perfect Picture"
Felice Bryant, Boudleaux Bryant
Donald Addrisi, Richard Addrisi
Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland
Chip Taylor
Barry Mann, Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil
Jimmy Webb
Terry Kirkman
Sylvia Fricker
Danny O'Keefe
Eric Kaz, Libby Titus
Dave Loggins
Gerry Goffin, Carole King
J.D. Souther
Joni Mitchell
Patti Scialfa
Rita Wilson March 11, 2016 "Along for the Ride"
"Crying, Crying"
"Talking to Me"
"Forgiving Me Forgiving You"
"Say Yes"
"Strong Tonight"
"What You See Is What You Get"
"Joni"
"In the Dark"
"Stay Low"
"Every Day"
"Girls Night In"
"I'm Guilty"
"Still Gone"
"Grateful"
Ann Marie Boskovich, Rita Wilson
Darrell Brown, Dan Wilson, Rita Wilson
Mikal Blue, Lauren Christy, Johan Lindbrandt, Rita Wilson
Darrell Brown, Rita Wilson
Richard Marx, Rita Wilson
Kelly Archer, Blair Daly, Rita Wilson
Shari Short, Bryan Todd, Rita Wilson
Jason Reeves, Nelly Joy Reeves, Rita Wilson
Ron Aniello, Jason Wade, Rita Wilson
Stephan Moccio, Rita Wilson
Kristian Bush, Rita Wilson
Nathan Chapman, Stephanie Chapman, Rita Wilson
Yugomir Lonich, Rita Wilson
Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall, Rita Wilson
Kara DioGuardi, Jason Reeves, Rita Wilson
Bigger Picture September 28, 2018 "Bigger Picture"
"Good Man"
"Heart He Handed Down"
"Tear by Tear"
"Not About the Music"
"The Way I Am"
"Broken Man"
"Blindsided"
"Go On Through It"
"The Wind"
"It Goes So Fast"
"Even More Mine"
Annie Bosko, Danny Myrick, Rita Wilson
Andrew Doolittle, Rita Wilson
Kristian Bush, Rita Wilson
Alex Reid, Lindy Robbins, Rita Wilson
Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Rita Wilson
Nelly Joy Reeves, Jason Reeves, Rita Wilson
Gary Burr, Rita Wilson
Michael Blue, Dominique Marie Vellutato, Rita Wilson, Katrina Woolverton
Aaron Benward, Deana Carter, LJ, Rita Wilson
Cat Stevens
Jodi Marr, Victoria Shaw, Rita Wilson
Nathan Chapman, Rita Wilson, Darrell Brown
Halfway to Home March 29, 2019 "Big City Small Town Girl"
"The Spark"
"Song for Everyone"
"Halfway to Home"
"Throw Me a Party"
"Oh, No, You Didn't"
"New Girl"
"Demolition Man"
"Rule Breaker"
"Pay Me in Wine"
"Faith in You"
"Heart Race"
"Date Night"
Annie Bosko, Johan Lindbrandt, Rita Wilson
John Shanks, Annie Bosko, Rita Wilson
Trey Bruce, Richard Marx, Rita Wilson
Mikal Blue, Marquita McCue, Jason Wade, Rita Wilson
Kristian Bush, Liz Rose, Rita Wilson
Matraca Berg, Rita Wilson
Emily Shackelton, Rita Wilson
Stephanie Chapman, Rita Wilson
Annie Bosko, Rita Wilson
Mitch Allen, Kristian Bush, Kara DioGuardi, Mozella, Liz Rose, Rita Wilson
Jack Tempchin, Rita Wilson
Nathan Chapman, Kevin Kadish, Rita Wilson
Emily Shackelton, Rita Wilson

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PM meets Tom Hanks, now a Greek citizen". Ekathimerini. 26 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b Birth date confirmed at the State of California, California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Date of birth for Margarit Ibrahimoff in Los Angeles, California is October 26, 1956.[1]
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  9. ^ "Season 12 Episode 9." Inside the Actors Studio. Bravo. 14 May 2016. Television.
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