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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Donna Murphy
Murphy in 2010
Born (1959-03-07) March 7, 1959 (age 64)
Years active1979–present
Notable workFosca in Passion (1994)
Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town (2003)
Voice of Mother Gothel in Disney's Tangled (2010)
(m. 1990; died 2016)

Donna Murphy (born March 7, 1959) is an American actress, best known for her work in musical theater. A five-time Tony Award nominee, she has twice won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical: for her role as Fosca in Passion (1994–1995) and as Anna Leonowens in The King and I (1996–1997). She was also nominated for her roles as Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town (2003), Lotte Lenya in LoveMusik (2007) and Bubbie/Raisel in The People in the Picture (2011).

Murphy made her Broadway debut as a replacement in the 1979 musical They're Playing Our Song. Her other stage credits include the original off-Broadway productions of Song of Singapore (1991) and Hello Again (1993), as well as the alternate to Bette Midler as the title character in a Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! (2017–2018). In 1997, she won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special for her role in Someone Had to be Benny, an episode of the HBO series Lifestories: Families in Crisis. Her film roles include Anij in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), Rosalie Octavius in Spider-Man 2 (2004), Mother Gothel in the animated film Tangled (2010), and one of the government secretaries in The Bourne Legacy (2012). As of 2022, she portrays Caroline Astor in the HBO series The Gilded Age.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Could I Leave You - Donna Murphy
  • Donna Murphy- Could I Leave You
  • Alan Menken and His Leading Ladies: Donna Murphy and Mother Gothel
  • Send In The Clowns - Donna Murphy - Donate to ASTEP
  • Alan Menken and His Disney Leading Ladies: Donna Murphy in Little Shop of Horrors


Early life and education

Murphy, the eldest of seven children, was born in Corona, Queens, New York, the daughter of Jeanne (née Fink) and Robert Murphy, an aerospace engineer.[1][2] Murphy is of Irish, French, German, and Czech ancestry.[3][4] Her family moved to Hauppauge, Long Island, New York. At age three, she asked for voice lessons, and she put on shows as a child in Hauppauge.[2] She later moved to Topsfield, Massachusetts and graduated from Masconomet Regional High School in 1977.


Murphy dropped out of the New York University drama program in her sophomore year when she was cast to understudy the three backup singers in the 1979 Broadway musical They're Playing Our Song. In a 2007 interview, Murphy explained, "At the end of my sophomore year, I took a leave of absence. I needed to audition without cutting classes."[2][5][6] She also studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.[7]

She has appeared in many off-Broadway productions, including the musical Francis in 1981 at the York Theatre at St. Peter's, The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 1985 at the Public Theater's Delacorte Theatre, Birds of Paradise in 1987 (Promenade Theatre), Privates on Parade (Roundabout Theatre) in 1989, the musical Song of Singapore in 1991, the Michael John LaChiusa musical Hello Again at the Lincoln Center Mitzi Newhouse Theater in 1993, Twelve Dreams at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in 1995, and Helen at the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival in 2002. In 2012, she appeared in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at The Public Theater's Delacorte Theatre as the Witch.[8]

On Broadway, after They're Playing Our Song (1979), she was an understudy in the musical/opera The Human Comedy in April 1984 and played various roles in The Mystery of Edwin Drood from 1985 to 1987. She also played Audrey in Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's Little Shop of Horrors. In 1994, she played the role of Fosca in Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's Passion, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. A year later she appeared in Lapine's revival, Twelve Dreams. In 1996, she played Anna Leonowens in the revival of The King and I alongside Lou Diamond Phillips, also recording a cast album. The role earned her a second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She appeared as Ruth Sherwood in a revival of Wonderful Town from 2003 to 2005 (having previously performed in the New York City Center Encores! 2000 staged concert of that musical), and was nominated for the Tony Award, Best Actress in a Musical and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In 2007, she appeared in LoveMusik as Lotte Lenya, opposite Michael Cerveris as Kurt Weill, receiving nominations for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. She appeared in the 2007 New York City Center Encores! staged concert of Follies as Phyllis.[9] She appeared in the Roundabout Theatre production of a new musical, The People in the Picture, which opened on April 28, 2011, and closed on June 19, 2011.[10] She was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her role in the production.[11]

She appeared in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! as Dolly Levi, the alternate to Bette Midler on Tuesday evenings and other select performances. She played her last performance on January 7, 2018.[12][13] Murphy returned to Hello, Dolly! for six performances (July 22 and 29, August 5, 12, 19, and 20) when Midler rejoined the musical before it closed on August 25, 2018.[14]

Murphy's film roles include Anij, Captain Jean-Luc Picard's love interest, in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), in the film Center Stage, as a ballet teacher (2000), as Rosalie Octavius, wife of Dr. Otto Octavius, the film's villain in Spider-Man 2 (2004), as Betty, a surgical research assistant in Darren Aronofsky's film The Fountain (2006), and Scarlett Johansson's mother in The Nanny Diaries (2007). As Mother Gothel in the animated musical film Tangled (2010) she sang the song "Mother Knows Best".[15] She played Kathleen, Vera Farmiga's mother in Higher Ground (2011) and Marie in Dark Horse (2011). In 2012, she appeared as government secretary Dita Mandy, in The Bourne Legacy.

On television, Murphy appeared in the NBC soap opera Another World from 1989 through 1991 as District Attorney Morgan Graves. She won an Emmy in 1997, for playing Armando Agrelo in "Someone Had to be Benny" (1996), an episode of the HBO series Lifestories: Families in Crisis. Other television series roles include a recurring role as Abigail Adams in Liberty! The American Revolution (1997), Murder One (1995–1996), Law & Order as Carla Tyrell in a recurring role (2000), Hack (2002–2003), Trust Me (2009) and Quantico (2017). Her voice-over work in TV commercials, includes the Le Vian chocolate diamonds series for Jared Jewelry. In 2022 Murphy recurred on HBO's The Gilded Age as Caroline Schermerhorn Astor.

Personal life

Murphy was married to actor and singer Shawn Elliott from 1990 until his death in March 2016.[16] She is the stepmother of Elliott's two daughters. In 2005, they adopted a daughter from Guatemala.[17]


Year Show Role Location Notes
1979–81 They're Playing Our Song Swing / Sonia Walsk Imperial Theatre Voice
1984 The Human Comedy Bess Macauley and Mary Arena Royale Theatre Understudy
1985–87 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Various characters Imperial Theatre
1994–95 Passion Fosca Plymouth Theatre
1995 Twelve Dreams Dorothy Trowbridge Lincoln Center[18]
1996–97 The King and I Anna Leonowens Neil Simon Theatre[19]
2002 Helen Helen of Troy The Public Theater[20]
2003–04 Wonderful Town Ruth Sherwood Al Hirschfeld Theatre[21]
2007 Follies Phyllis Stone New York City Center[22]
LoveMusik Lotte Lenya Biltmore Theatre
2010 Anyone Can Whistle Mayor Cora New York City Center[23]
2011 The People in the Picture Bubbie / Raisel Studio 54
2012 Into the Woods The Witch Delacorte Theater Central Park
2017–18 Hello, Dolly! Dolly Gallagher Levi Shubert Theatre Alternate to Bette Midler
2023 Dear World Countess Aurelia New York City Center[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Jade Detective Karen Heller
1998 October 22 Carole
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection Anij
1999 The Astronaut's Wife Natalie Streck
2000 Center Stage Juliette Simone
2004 The Door in the Floor Frame Shop Owner
2004 Spider-Man 2 Rosalie Octavius
2006 Ira & Abby Dr. Betsy Goldman
2006 World Trade Center Judy Jonas
2006 The Fountain Betty
2007 The Nanny Diaries Judy Braddock
2008 Sherman's Way Evelyn Black
2010 Tangled Mother Gothel Voice
2011 Higher Ground Kathleen Walker
2011 Dark Horse Marie
2012 The Bourne Legacy CIA Agent Dita Mandy
2016 No Pay, Nudity Pearl
2020 Anastasia: Once Upon a Time Yara the Enchantress


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Tales from the Holywood Hills: A Table at Ciro's June, The Vocalist Television film
1991 Another World District Attorney Morgan Graves 7 episodes
1993 Law & Order Karen Unger Episode: "Right to Counsel"
1996 Lifestories: Families in Crisis Armanda Agrelo Episode: "Someone Had to Be Benny"
1995–1996 Murder One Francesca Cross 6 episodes
1996 Remember WENN Ruth Geddy Episode: "Behind Every Great Woman"
1996 Passion Fosca Television film
1997 Nothing Sacred Camille Episode: "Spirit and Substance"
1997–2000 Law & Order Carla Tyrell 2 episodes
1997 Liberty! The American Revolution Abigail Adams Miniseries; 6 episodes
1998 The Practice Marie Hanson Episode: "Axe Murderer"
1998 Ally McBeal Marie Hanson Episode: "The Inmates"
1998 The Day Lincoln Was Shot Mary Todd Lincoln Television film
2000 The Last Debate Joan Naylor Television film
2000–2001 What About Joan? Dr. Ruby Stern 21 episodes
2002 The Education of Max Bickford Esther Weber Episode: "The Good, the Bad, and the Lawyers"
2002–2003 Hack Heather Olshansky 16 episodes
2005 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Captain Annie Krame Episode: "Hollywood Brass"
2006 The Book of Daniel Dr. Libby Webster Episode: "God's Will"
2006 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Blair Episode: "Pilot"
2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Maureen Pagolis Episode: "Albatross"
2007 Damages Nancy Episode: "Do You Regret What We Did?"
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Raye Massey Episode: "Retro"
2009 Trust Me Denise Goodman 5 episodes
2010 Ugly Betty Eve Episode: "Million Dollar Smile"
2012 Made in Jersey Darlene Garetti 7 episodes
2013 The Mentalist Diandra Sunderland Episode: "Behind the Red Curtain"
2013 House of Versace Maria Television film
2014 The Good Wife Judge Alice Adelson Episode: "A Material World"
2014 Royal Pains Berta Episode: "Steaks on a Plane"
2014–2015 Resurrection Angela Forrester 8 episodes
2015 Hindsight Georgie Brady 4 episodes
2016–2017 Mercy Street Jane Green 12 episodes
2017 Doubt District Attorney Grace Russo 2 episodes
2017–2020 Tangled: The Series Mother Gothel Voice, 6 episodes
2017 Quantico Rebecca Sherman Episode: "Mktopaz"
2019 The Blacklist Sophia Quayle Episode: "The Pawnbrokers (No. 146/147)"
2019 The Bravest Knight Trulla Voice, episode: "Cedric & the Troll"[25]
2019–2020 Power Loretta Walsh 5 episodes
2021-2022 Gossip Girl Headmistress Vivian Burton 4 episodes
2022 The Gilded Age Caroline Schermerhorn Astor Recurring
2022 Inventing Anna Donna Zaveri Episode: "Two Birds, One Throne"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Tangled: The Video Game Mother Gothel
2019 Kingdom Hearts III
2023 Disney Dreamlight Valley

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
1992 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Song of Singapore Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
1993 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Hello Again Nominated
1994 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Passion Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won
1996 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical The King and I Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
1997 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special Lifestories: Families in Crisis ("Someone Had to be Benny") Won
2004 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Wonderful Town Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won
2007 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical LoveMusik Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Won
2011 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical The People in the Picture Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
2013 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Into the Woods Nominated


  1. ^ Donna Murphy
  2. ^ a b c Pogrebin, Robin (December 15, 2003). "A Perfectionist Is at Home in a Role Funny and Loose". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
  3. ^ "Twentyquestions: Donna Murphy currently leads a screwball conga-line of Brazilian sailors in the Broadway revival of Wonderful Town". American Theatre. April 1, 2004. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  4. ^ Kilian, Michael (December 17, 1998). "Making the Break". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  5. ^ Nassour, Ellis. "Donna Murphy: Singing in a Different Key in LoveMusik",, May 7, 2007
  6. ^ IMDB shows that she earned a bachelor of fine arts in 1980.
  7. ^ "Donna Murphy". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2009. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
  8. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Once Upon a Time, Later": 'Into the Woods' Casts Spell in Central Park Starting July 24" Archived July 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., July 24, 2012
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Oh, Those Sharp Stones in a Dance Down Memory Lane", The New York Times, February 10, 2007
  10. ^ BWW News Desk. "Donna Murphy to Return to Broadway in 'The People In The Picture'", October 31, 2010
  11. ^ "Tony Nominations Announced", May 3, 2011
  12. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Donna Murphy Sets Last Night in 'Hello, Dolly!'; Bernadette Peters to Play 8 Performances a Week" Playbill, September 7, 2017
  13. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein Bid Farewell to 'Hello, Dolly!' January 14" Playbill, January 14, 2018
  14. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Donna Murphy to Return to Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!'" Playbill, May 29, 2018
  15. ^ "Alan Menken Interview", November 15, 2010
  16. ^ "Actor Shawn Elliott, Husband of Donna Murphy, Dies at 79" Playbill, March 18, 2016
  17. ^ Robertson, Campbell."No Ill Feelings: Producers Bet on a 'Superwoman'", discussing her adopted daughterThe New York Times, April 30, 2007
  18. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (June 9, 1995). "Twelve Dreams". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  19. ^ "Kevin Gray to replace Lou Diamond Phillips in King & I". Playbill. May 27, 1997. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  20. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 9, 2002). "THEATER REVIEW; The Face Again, Still Gorgeous But a Bit Weary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  21. ^ "Donna Murphy's Final Week in Wonderful Town". Playbill. September 21, 2004. Archived from the original on March 13, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  22. ^ Brantley, Ben (February 10, 2007). "Oh, Those Sharp Stones in a Dance Down Memory Lane". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew (March 1, 2010). "Donna Murphy Joins Cast of Encores! Anyone Can Whistle". Playbill. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  24. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan (March 15, 2023). "Donna Murphy Stars in Jerry Herman's Dear World at New York City Center Encores! Beginning March 15". Playbill. Retrieved March 21, 2023.
  25. ^ Walsh, Kathleen (June 21, 2019). "Your Kids Should Be Watching 'The Bravest Knight' This Pride Month — Here's Why". Romper. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 September 2023, at 12:41
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