Téa Leoni

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Téa Leoni
Leoni in June 2007
Elizabeth Téa Pantaleoni

(1966-02-25) February 25, 1966 (age 57)[1]
New York City, U.S.[1]
Years active1988–present
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Neil Joseph Tardio Jr.
    (m. 1991; div. 1995)
  • (m. 1997; div. 2014)
PartnerTim Daly (2014–present)

Téa Leoni (/ˈt.ə lˈni/; born Elizabeth Téa Pantaleoni; February 25, 1966)[1] is an American actress. In her early career, she starred in the television sitcoms Flying Blind (1992–93) and The Naked Truth (1995–1998). Her breakthrough role was in the 1995 action comedy film Bad Boys. In later years, Leoni had lead roles in films such as Deep Impact (1998), The Family Man (2000), Jurassic Park III (2001), Spanglish (2004), and Fun with Dick and Jane (2005). From 2014 to 2019, she starred as Elizabeth McCord in the CBS political drama series Madam Secretary.

Early life and family[edit]

Leoni was born on February 25, 1966, in New York City. Her mother, Emily Ann (née Patterson),[2][3] was a dietitian and nutritionist, and her father, Anthony Pantaleoni, was a corporate lawyer with the firm Fulbright & Jaworski.[4] Her paternal grandfather was of Italian, English, and Irish descent; he was a nephew of Italian economist and politician Maffeo Pantaleoni.[5][6][7] Leoni's paternal grandmother, American silent film actress and humanitarian Helenka Adamowska Pantaleoni, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to Polish musicians Józef Adamowski and Antonina Szumowska-Adamowska.[5][8] Leoni's mother is a native of Amarillo, Texas, and a niece of actor Hank Patterson.[9]

Leoni grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, and New York City, and attended two private schools, Brearley School and The Putney School in Vermont.[10] She attended but did not complete studies at Sarah Lawrence College.[10]

In a 2017 episode of Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Leoni discovered that her mother Emily, who was adopted, is the biological daughter of Mavis Abilene Gindratt from Vick, Louisiana, and Sumpter James Daniel, whose ancestors originated in Ireland, settled in Virginia in the early 18th century, and had a plantation in Fairfax County, seven miles from George Washington.[11] Her mother's adoptive parents were Florry Elizabeth (née Roberts) and Virgil Pearson Patterson.[12][13][14]


In 1988, Leoni was cast as one of the stars of Angels 88, an updated version of the 1970s show Charlie's Angels.[15] After production delays, the show never aired. The following year, she was cast as Lisa DiNapoli in the NBC daytime soap opera Santa Barbara. In 1991, she made her film debut with a small role in the comedy Switch and later played another small part in A League of Their Own (1992).

From 1992 to 1993, Leoni starred with Corey Parker in the short-lived Fox sitcom Flying Blind. In February 1995, she appeared in the sitcom Frasier, a spinoff from Cheers, as the fiancée of Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson). Later in that year, she landed the lead role in the ABC/NBC sitcom The Naked Truth, playing Nora Wilde, a tabloid news journalist. The show ran through 1998. She was also offered to play the role of Rachel Green on the hit sitcom Friends which she then turned down to star in The Naked Truth. Leoni had the female lead role in the 1995 action comedy film Bad Boys, which was a box office success, grossing over $141 million worldwide.[16]

After leaving television, Leoni had a leading role in Deep Impact (1998), a big-budget disaster film about a comet hurtling towards Earth. The film received mixed reviews from critics but was a success at the box office, grossing $349 million worldwide.[17] She later had main roles in two other big budget movies: romantic comedy The Family Man (2000), co-starring alongside Nicolas Cage, and science fiction film Jurassic Park III (2001) as William H. Macy's character's ex-wife. In 2002, she starred as a film studio executive in Hollywood Ending, directed by Woody Allen and had a supporting role in the box office bomb crime drama People I Know. In 2004, she appeared as the wife of Adam Sandler's character in the financially unsuccessful comedy-drama Spanglish. In 2005, Leoni starred alongside Jim Carrey in the comedy film Fun with Dick and Jane. The movie grossed $202 million at the box office worldwide.[18]

Leoni co-starred in a number of small films in the late 2000s, including You Kill Me and The Smell of Success. She co-starred opposite Ricky Gervais in the 2008 supernatural comedy-drama Ghost Town. In 2011, she had a supporting role in the heist comedy film, Tower Heist. In 2011, she was also cast alongside Hope Davis as leads in the HBO comedy pilot, Spring/Fall; however, the pilot was not picked up.[19] Leoni starred as Elizabeth McCord in the CBS political drama Madam Secretary, which ran from September 21, 2014, to December 8, 2019.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Leoni married Neil Joseph Tardio Jr., a television commercial producer, on June 8, 1991, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hope, New Jersey.[21] They divorced in 1995.[22]

Leoni married actor David Duchovny on May 13, 1997, after an eight-week courtship.[23][24] They have two children, daughter Madelaine West Duchovny[25][26] and son Kyd Miller Duchovny.[27][28] In 2008, Leoni and Duchovny separated;[29] Duchovny received treatment for sex addiction from August to October.[30][31][32] The couple reconciled in 2009 but separated again in June 2011.[33][34] Duchovny filed for divorce in June 2014, and the couple had agreed to settlement terms by that August.[35][36] After splitting from Duchovny, Leoni moved to Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of New York City.[37]

Leoni began dating her Madam Secretary co-star Tim Daly, another alumnus of The Putney School, in December 2014.[38][39]

Humanitarian work[edit]

Leoni was named a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2001.[40] Helenka Pantaleoni, her paternal grandmother, was the president of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF for more than 25 years.[8]


Asteroid 8299 Téaleoni, discovered by Eric Elst at La Silla in 1993, was named after Leoni.[41]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Switch Connie the Dream Girl
1992 A League of Their Own Racine 1st Base
1994 Wyatt Earp Sally
1995 Bad Boys Julie Mott
1996 Flirting with Disaster Tina Kalb
1998 Deep Impact Jenny Lerner
There's No Fish Food in Heaven[42] Landeene Also executive producer
2000 The Family Man Kate Reynolds
2001 Jurassic Park III Amanda Kirby
2002 People I Know Jilli Hopper
Hollywood Ending Ellie
2004 House of D Mrs. Warshaw
Spanglish Deborah Clasky
2005 Fun with Dick and Jane Jane Harper
2007 You Kill Me Laurel Pearson Also executive producer
2008 Ghost Town Gwen
2009 The Smell of Success Rosemary Rose
2011 Tower Heist Special Agent Claire Denham


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Santa Barbara Lisa DiNapoli Temporary Replacement for Tawny Kitaen
1992–93 Flying Blind Alicia 22 episodes
1994 The Counterfeit Contessa[43] Gina Leonarda Nardino Television film
1995 Frasier Sheila Episode: "The Show Where Sam Shows Up"
1995–98 The Naked Truth Nora Wilde 55 episodes
2000 The X-Files Herself Episode: "Hollywood A.D."
2011 Spring/Fall Margo Unsold TV pilot
2014–19 Madam Secretary Elizabeth McCord 120 episodes; also producer

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
1998 Deep Impact Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actress – Sci-Fi Nominated
2000 The Family Man Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Actress Won
2006 Herself TV Land Awards Little Screen/Big Screen Star – Female Nominated
2014 Madam Secretary People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress in a New TV Series Nominated
2016 Madam Secretary CBS MVP Awards Best Motivational Speech Nominated


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  3. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, November 21, 2017
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  11. ^ Finding Your Roots Series 4 Episode 8
  12. ^ "Emily Ann Pantaleoni". geni_family_tree. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  13. ^ "Adoption in PBS' "Finding Your Roots"". Adoptions With Love. June 10, 2019. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  14. ^ Leoni, Téa (March 26, 2019). "The episode of #FindingYourRoots including my family is reairing tonight. This experience inspired a new chapter for our family after Mom, West, & I flew to meet this new family! They're deeply kind, loving, good people. We're forever indebted to the team that made this happen". @tealeoni. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
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  17. ^ "Deep Impact (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
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  25. ^ "Duchovnys: Baby Makes 3". People. March 16, 1999. ISSN 0093-7673. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Actors David Duchovny of 'The X-Files' and Tea Pantaleoni of 'Deep Impact' have welcomed their first child, a girl.... The baby was born Saturday [March 13, 1999] at an undisclosed Southern California hospital, said the couple's publicist, Annett Wolf.
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  27. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (June 18, 2002). "Leoni, Duchovny: And Baby Makes Four". People. ISSN 0093-7673. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2017. Tea Leoni and David Duchovny welcomed their second child Saturday [June 15, 2002], a baby boy weighing 7 lbs., 10 oz. [3.5 kg], according to a statement issued to Reuters on Monday by the actors' publicist, Annett Wolf. No other details, including the newborn's name, were released
  28. ^ "Téa Leoni and Kyd Miller spend a fun day in Malibu". People. February 15, 2008. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
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  30. ^ "Scoop – Vol. 76 No. 2". People. July 18, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
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  38. ^ "Téa Leoni, Tim Daly Make Their Red Carpet Debut at White House Correspondents' Dinner". Huffington Post. April 27, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  39. ^ Hargrave, Hannah (January 25, 2017). "'Madam Secretary' Star Tim Daly Breaks Both Legs in Skiing Accident in Sundance". Us Weekly.
  40. ^ "UNICEF Ambassadors: Téa Leoni". UNICEF. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  41. ^ "8299 Tealeoni (1993 TP24)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  42. ^ Bhob Stewart (2008). "There's No Fish Food in Heaven (1998)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 27, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  43. ^ Hiltbrand, David (April 4, 1994). "Picks and Pans Review: The Counterfeit Contessa". People. Vol. 41, no. 12. ISSN 0093-7673. Retrieved October 8, 2011.

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