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Kathleen Chalfant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kathleen Chalfant
Chalfant at Make It Fair in 2015
Kathleen Ann Bishop

Years active1974–present
(m. 1966)

Kathleen Ann Chalfant (née Bishop) is an American actress. She has appeared in many stage plays, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as making guest appearances on television series, including the Law & Order franchise.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Women in Theatre: Kathleen Chalfant
  • KATHLEEN CHALFANT’s WIT interview in 1999 on Theater Talk
  • Behind the scenes: Kathleen Chalfant
  • Conversations with Kathleen Chalfant
  • Kathleen Chalfant in RED DOG HOWLS


Early life

Chalfant was born Kathleen Ann Bishop[1] in San Francisco, California, and was raised in her parents' boarding house in Oakland. Her father, William Bishop, was an officer in the Coast Guard. She studied acting in New York with Wynn Handman, who was a protégé of Sanford Meisner,[2] and with Alessandro Fersen in Rome.[3]


Chalfant worked as a Production Coordinator at Playwrights Horizons in the mid-1970s, beginning with Demons: A Possession by Robert Karmon.[4] She made her Off-Broadway acting debut in Cowboy Pictures in June 1974.[5] She has since appeared in over three dozen Off-Broadway productions. In 2015, she appeared in the Women's Project Theater production of Dear Elizabeth by Sarah Ruhl[6] and as Rose Kennedy in the Nora's Playhouse production of Rose by Laurence Leamer.[7]

Chalfant was nominated for her official Broadway debut role[8] at the 1993 Tony Awards for Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) in Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. She earned the Outer Circle Critics, Drama Desk, Obie and Lucille Lortel awards for her performance as Vivian Bearing in Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit in 1998; she shaved her head for the role.[9] During her work with Wit, she incorporated her experiences dealing with terminal cancer of her half-brother, Alan Palmer, who died in 1998.[10]

For her 2003 performance in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads,[11] Chalfant won a second Obie award. In 2009, Chalfant performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film[12] utilizing dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

Chalfant has played recurring roles in a number of television series including House of Cards, Law & Order, Rescue Me, and The Guardian. Her roles in feature films have included Isn't It Delicious and Kinsey.

Chalfant recently played Margaret Butler in The Affair on Showtime.

She was presented with the 2018 Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement.[13]

In 2018, Chalfant read T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets at the Bard SummerScape Festival as part of a new performance with choreography by Pam Tanowitz, music by Kaija Saariaho, and images by Brice Marden.[14]

Personal life

In 1966, Chalfant married Henry Chalfant, a photographer and documentary filmmaker. They have a son, David Chalfant, who was the bass player for the folk-rock band The Nields, and a daughter, Andromache, a set designer in New York.


Chalfant has spoken about the role of art and artists in advocating for civil rights and social justice,[15] and "theater as a platform for social change."[16] She has been hosted by the Center for Constitutional Rights as part of the Guantanamo Lawyers Panel,[17] and was among a group of artists endorsing a cultural boycott of Israel as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to advocate for Palestinian rights.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Five Corners Mrs. Fitzgerald
1989 Miss Firecracker Miss Lily
1990 Tales from the Darkside: The Movie Dean Segment: "Lot 249"
1991 Dangerous Music Therapist Short
Out of the Rain Ruth
1992 Bob Roberts Constance Roberts
1996 MURDER and murder Mildred
1998 The Last Days of Disco Zenia
Side Streets Nanda
1999 QM, I Think I Call Her QM Dr. Ruth Fielding Short
2000 Company Man Mother Quimp
Woman Found Dead in Elevator Woman Short
2002 Book of Kings Nina Short
2004 Kinsey Barbara Merkle
2007 First Born Mrs. Kasperian
Perfect Stranger Elizabeth Clayton
The Last New Yorker Mimi
2008 Second Guessing Grandma Jean Short
2009 Duplicity Pam Frailes
2012 Lillian Lillian Manning Short
2013 Isn't It Delicious Joan Weldon
The Bath Liz Short
A Dream of Flying Old Woman Short
2017 They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief Mabel Elliot Documentary
Class Rank Editor in Chief
In the Studio Ilene Post-production
Before/During/After Olga Post-production
2021 Old Agnes


Year Title Role Notes
1978- 1979 The Edge of Night Louise TV series
1991 American Playhouse Mrs. Hauser "The Hollow Boy"
1992 L.A. Law Marlene Branson "Zo Long"
1994 All My Children Rae Ella 1 episode
1997 Spin City Mother Superior "Hot in the City"
1997–00 Prince Street TV series
1999 Storm of the Century Joanna Stanhope TV miniseries
2000 The Beat Mrs. Waclawek "Someone to Watch Over Me"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mrs. Nash "Noncompliance"
2001 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Priscilla Van Acker "Smothered"
2001–09 Law & Order Lisa Cutler "Phobia", "Shrunk", "Illegitimate"
2001–04 The Guardian Laurie Solt Main role
2002 Benjamin Franklin Silence Dogood TV miniseries documentary
A Death in the Family Aunt Hannah TV film
2005 Lackawanna Blues Mrs. Carmichael TV film
2006 The Book of Daniel Catherine Webster Regular role
2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Bessie Holland "Bombshell"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Judge Cutress "Haystack"
2009 Rescue Me Sean's Ma Recurring role
Georgia O'Keeffe Mrs. Stieglitz TV film
Mercy Mrs. Borghouse "Can We Get That Drink Now?"
2012 NYC 22 Ginny Williams "Pilot"
2013 Elementary Mrs. Clennon "An Unnatural Arrangement"
Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight Ethel Harlan TV film
2013–16 House of Cards Margaret Tilden Recurring role
2014 The Americans Aunt Helen "The Walk In"
Good Medicine Coco LaRue "Raj"
Forever Gloria Carlyle "The Art of Murder"
2014–15 The Strain Abraham's Grandmother "Runaways", "BK, NY"
2014–15 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit President Roberts "Pornstar's Requiem", "Devastating Story"
2014–19 The Affair Margaret Butler Recurring role
2015–16 Madam Secretary Dean Ward "The Ninth Circle", "Unity Node", "Render Safe"
2017 Doubt Margaret Brennan 5 episodes
2019 High Maintenance Mamie "Fingerbutt"
New Amsterdam Molly "The Denominator"
2021 The Blacklist Alberta Gilbert "The Skinner (No. 45): Conclusion"


Year Venue Show Role
1974 Playwrights Horizons Cowboy Pictures n/a
1975 The Coronor's Plot
Mississippi Moonshine
1976 Paradise
1977 Westside Theatre Jules Feiffer's Hold Me!
1978 American Place Theatre Fefu and Her Friends n/a (Understudy)
1980 Killings on the Last Time n/a
1982 Westside Theatre Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You/ The Actor's Nightmare Sister Mary Ignatius/ Sarah Siddons (Replacement)
1988 WPA Theatre Just Say No Mrs. Potentate
1989 Perry Street Theater The Investigation of the Murder in El Salvador Lady Aitkin
1990 Union Square Theater The Crucible Mrs. Ann Putnam
Eugene O'Neill Theatre M. Butterfly Helga (Understudy)
1992 Vineyard Theater The Party Women
1994 Walter Kerr Theatre Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Rabbi Chemelwitz, Henry, Hannah Pitt, Ethel Rosenberg
Angels in America: Perestroika Prelapsarianov, Hannah Pitt, Henry, Ethel Rosenberg, Council of Principalities, Rabbi Chemelwitz
1995 East 13th Street Theatre/Classic Stage Company Iphigenia and Other Daughters Clymenestra
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater Twelve Dreams Jenny
East 13th Street Theatre/Classic Stage Company Endgame Clov
Vivian Beaumont Theatre Racing Demon Heather Espy
1996 Delacorte Theatre Henry V Mistress Quickly/Queen Isabel
New York City Center-Stage I Nine Armenians Non/Marie
1998 East 13th Street Theatre/Classic Stage Company Phaedra in Delirium n/a
MCC Theater Wit Vivian Bearing Ph.D.
Union Square Theatre
1999 Westside Theatre The Vagina Monologues n/a
Vineyard Theatre True History and Real Adventures n/a
2003 Minetta Lane Theatre Talking Heads Susan (Bed Among the Lentils)
East 13th Street Theatre/Classic Stage Company Savannah Bay Madeleine
Lucille Lortel Theatre The Last Letter Anna Semyonova
2004 Theatres at 45 Bleecker/Bleecker Street Theatre Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom Gareth Peirce
New York City Center-Stage II Five By Tenn Anna/Vera Cartwright/Frieda/One
2006 Barrow Street Theatre an oak tree Father
Lucille Lortel Theatre Great Expectations Mrs. Havisham
2007 Minetta Lane Theatre Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell Love
Harold Clurman Theatre A Hard Heart n/a
2008 Playwrights Horizons Dead Man's Cell Phone Mrs. Gottlieb
2010 Lucille Lortel Theatre Family Week Lena
2012 New York Theatre Workshop Red Dog Howls[19] Rose Afratian
2013 Vineyard Theatre Somewhere Fun Evelyn Armstrong
2014 New York City Center- Stage I Tales From Red Vienna Edda Schmidt
2015 McGinn-Cazale Theatre Dear Elizabeth Elizabeth
2017 Playwrights Horizons For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday Ann
2018 Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre St. Vincent's Project: Novenas for a Hospital Sister Elizabeth Ann Seton
2021 Brooklyn Academy of Music Four Quartets Narrator

Awards and nominations

Year Award Show Result
1993 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Nominated
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
1994 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Angels in America: Perestroika
1996 Joe A. Callaway Award Henry V Won
1997 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Nine Armenians Nominated
1999 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play Wit Won
Obie Award for Outstanding Performance
Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance
Drama League Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Actress
2003 Obie Award for Best Performance Talking Heads
2004 Lucille Lortel Award, Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence n/a
2015 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play A Walk in the Woods Nominated
2016 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Solo Performance Rose


  1. ^ Search: Kathleen Bishop at; accessed April 3, 2014.
  2. ^ Ryzik, Melena (May 20, 2007). "Nearly 60 Years and Counting, Working on the Art of Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  3. ^ Sturner, Lynda (24 March 2000). "Brit Wit". TheaterMania. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Demons: A Possession". Internet Off-Broadway Database. Lucille Lortel Foundation. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Cowboy Pictures". Internet Off-Broadway Database. Lucille Lortel Foundation. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  6. ^ Dear Elizabeth Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine, accessed December 18, 2015
  7. ^ Lloyd Webber, Imogen (14 September 2015). "Kathleen Chalfant Will Headline Laurence Leamer's Rose Off-Broadway". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  8. ^ Kathleen Henderson, "Painting Churches Star Kathleen Chalfant on Wit, Angels in America and a Naughty Role in Kinsey",, March 7, 2012
  9. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 18, 1998). "Battered and Broken, So That She May Rise". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  10. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (October 20, 1998). "A Brother's Death Helps Bring a Performance to Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  11. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 7, 2003). "Life a Bit of a Mess? Just Carry On, Dear". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  12. ^ "The People Speak". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Kathleen Chalfant Will Receive 2018 Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement" Playbill, May 7, 2018
  14. ^ Bard College, Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. "Four Quartets at the Fisher Center". Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  15. ^ Steketee, Martha Wade (4 April 2013). "Kathleen Chalfant: Practicing 'Political Performance'". Urban Excavations. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Kathleen Chalfant to Join Playwrights Panel on January 31". Aspen Institute. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Guantanamo Lawyers Panel with CCR's Gitanjali Gutierrez and actress Kathleen Chalfant". Center for Constitutional Rights. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  18. ^ Norton, Ben (24 November 2015). "'Amplify your voice for justice': Roger Waters and prominent artists call for boycott of Israel in new video". Salon. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  19. ^ "NYTW / Red Dog Howls". NYTW. Retrieved 2022-09-09.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 April 2024, at 16:50
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