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Mel Harris
Mel Harris 2016.png
Harris in 2016
Mary Ellen Harris

Years active1977–present
  • David Silbergeld
    (m. 1978; div. 1979)
  • Brian Kilcommons
    (m. 1980; div. 1982)
  • (m. 1983; div. 1988)
  • (m. 1988; div. 1996)
  • Michael Toomey
    (m. 2001; div. 2006)
  • Bob Brush
    (m. 2009)

Mary Ellen "Mel" Harris is an American actress best known for her role as Hope Murdoch Steadman in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething (1987–1991), for which she received a Golden Globe nomination in 1990.

Early life

Harris was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the daughter to Mary Michael "Mike", a high-school science teacher, and Warren Harris, football coach at Bethlehem High School and Princeton University.[1] Her nickname came from her younger sister mispronouncing her given name Mary Ellen as "Melon" while an infant, which evolved into "Mel".[citation needed] Harris grew up in North Brunswick, New Jersey[2] and graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1974.[3] Before finding success as an actress, Harris had appeared as a contestant on the game show Pyramid on two occasions, in 1979 on the ABC-TV daytime version known as The $20,000 Pyramid, and in 1985 on the syndicated version known as The $100,000 Pyramid, both versions hosted by Dick Clark. She later appeared as a celebrity on the third week of The $100,000 Pyramid hosted by John Davidson in 1991, with a clip of her big win in 1985 as shown in a flashback clip.[4]


Harris made her film debut playing a female leading role in the 1987 action film Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Rutger Hauer. She went on to star alongside Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig, Melanie Mayron, Timothy Busfield, Peter Horton and Polly Draper in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething playing the role of Hope Murdoch Steadman. The series received critical acclaim during its run, while Harris was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in 1990.[5] She directed one episode during the final season. The series ended in 1991. During that time, she also starred in the horror film Cameron's Closet (1988) and action comedy K-9 alongside Jim Belushi. In 1989, she played a real-life victim Madge Oberholtzer in the TV miniseries Cross of Fire. In 1989, Harper's Bazaar named her one of "America's 10 Most Beautiful Women".[6]

In 1990s, Harris had many leading roles in the made-for-television films and miniseries, include The Burden of Proof (1992), Ultimate Betrayal (1994) and The Women of Spring Break (1995). She co-starred in the 1992 psychological horror-thriller film Raising Cain, and the following year played the leading role in the thriller film Suture.[7] Her other notable film credits include The Pagemaster (1994), Hangman's Curse (2003), and The Lodger (2009). From 1996 to 1998, she starred with Jere Burns in the NBC sitcom Something So Right. The series was cancelled after two seasons.

Harris has appeared in a number of television series in 2000s, including Touched by an Angel, Stargate SG-1, The West Wing, JAG, House, and Criminal Minds. In 2007, she was regular cast member in the MyNetworkTV limited-run serial Saints & Sinners. At that time, she began working as writer. She was executive producer and creator of 2012 ABC drama pilot Scruples based on the 1978 novel by Judith Krantz.[8][9] After six-year hiatus, Harris returned to television in 2013, appearing in the two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2016, Harris starred in the first season of Hulu drama series Shut Eye, and from 2017 to 2018 had a recurring role in the Bravo comedy series Imposters. In 2020, ABC ordered a sequel for Thirtysomething and Harris set to return alongside Olin, Busfield, and Wettig.[10]

Personal life

Harris has been married six times.[11] She was married to David Silbergeld from 1978 to 1979; Brian Kilcommons from 1980 to 1982; photographer David Hume Kennerly from 1983 to 1988 (with whom she had son Byron); actor Cotter Smith from 1988 to 1996 (with whom she had daughter Madeline); and investment banker Michael Toomey from 2001 to 2006. She has been married to screenwriter and producer Bob Brush since 2009.[12][11]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Wanted: Dead or Alive Terry
1988 Cameron's Closet Nora Haley
1989 K-9 Tracy
1992 Raising Cain Sarah
1993 Distant Cousins Katherine June Sullivan
1993 Suture Dr. Renee Descartes
1993 Wind Dancer Susan Allen
1994 The Pagemaster Claire Tyler
1999 Sonic Impact Co-Pilot Jennifer Blake
2001 Firetrap Cordelia Calloway
2003 Hangman's Curse Sarah Springfield
2004 Dynamite Faye Baxter
2005 The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie Mel Harris Cameo appearance
2005 Purple Heart Dr. Harrison
2006 Arc Charlie
2009 The Lodger Margaret
2009 Imagine That Maggie Johnson Uncredited
2020 King of Knives Kathy


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Girlfriend Episode: "A Very Happy Ending"
1986 Heart of the City Anne Episode: "Working Without a Net"
1986 The Wizard Jane Whittier Episode: "Trouble in the Stars"
1987 Rags to Riches Jessica Episode: "First Love"
1989 Cross of Fire Madge Oberholtzer' Television film
1989 My Brother's Wife Eleanor Goldberg-Rusher Television film
1987-1991 Thirtysomething Hope Murdoch Steadman Series regular, 85 episodes
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1990)
Nominated — Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series (1990)
1992 The Burden of Proof Sonia Klonsky Miniseries
1992 Grass Roots Kate Rule Television film
1992 Child of Rage Jill Tyler Television film
1993 With Hostile Intent Kathy Arnold Television film
1993 Desperate Journey: The Allison Wilcox Story Allison Wilcox Television film
1994 Ultimate Betrayal Susan Rodgers Television film
1994 The Spider and the Fly Dianna Taylor Television film
1994 Broken Lullaby Jordan Kirkland Television film
1995 The Women of Spring Break Claire Television film
1995 The Secretary Ellen Bradford Television film
1995 Sharon's Secret Laurel O'Connor Television film
1995 Raising Caines Julie Caine Series regular, 6 episodes
1996 A Case for Life Liz Television film
1996 The Outer Limits Dr. Christina Markham Episode: "Paradise"
1996 What Kind of Mother Are You? Mrs. Laura Hyler Television film
1997 Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest Sarah Television film
1996-1998 Something So Right Carly Davis Series regular, 38 episodes
1999 Dawson's Creek Helen Lindley Episode: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
2000 Out of Time Annie Epson Television film
2000 Madigan Men Dr. Ivy Castelli Episode: "Love and Dermatology"
2001 Touched by an Angel Kelly Rockhill Episode: "The Lord Moves in Mysterious Ways"
2001 The Retrievers Karen Lowry Television film
2002 Strong Medicine Biddy Hightower Episode: "Recovery Time"
2002 Another Pretty Face Diana Downs Television film
2004 North Shore Mrs. Jensen Episode: "Illusions"
2002-2005 Stargate SG-1 Oma Desala 3 episodes
2005 The West Wing Ricky Rafferty Episode: "Drought Conditions"
2005 Jake in Progress Tally Hughes Episode: "Ubusy?"
2005 JAG Dora Cresswell Episodes: "Straits of Malacca" and "Death at the Mosque"
2005 Out of the Woods Beth Fleming Television film
2006 E-Ring U.S.Ambassador to Spain Episode: "The General"
2006 Cold Case Grace Anderson Episode: "Superstar"
2006 House Barbara Bardach Episode: "Safe"
2006 CSI: NY Julie Rollins Episode: "And Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael"
2006 Criminal Minds Congressman Steyer Episode: "Sex, Birth, Death"
2007 Close to Home Beth Murphy Episode: "Maternal Instinct"
2007 Cane Constance Hughes Episode: "Open and Shut"
2007 Saints & Sinners Sylvia Capshaw Series regular, 61 episodes
2013-2014 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Eileen Switzer Episodes: "Rapist Anonymous" and "Amaro's One-Eighty"
2015 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Shawna Episode: "My Mom, Greg's Mom and Josh's Sweet Dance Moves!"
2016 Shut Eye Nadine Davies 9 episodes
2017-2018 Imposters Margaret Jonson 5 episodes


  1. ^ "Mel Harris Biography (1957-)".
  2. ^ Gold, Todd. "Yuppie Babies, Beaus and Tales of Woe on Thirtysomething Plunk a Responsive Chord for Mel Harris", People (magazine), October 26, 1987. Accessed January 30, 2013. "She learned that the hard way. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., and raised in North Brunswick, N.J., Harris says that her parents' home was loveless long before their divorce in 1969."
  3. ^ The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book.
  4. ^ Brennan, Patricia (January 20, 1991). "HE'S GAME FOR THE NEW '$100,000 PYRAMID'" – via
  5. ^ "Mel Harris".
  6. ^ "'Thirtysomething' Actress Mel Harris Files For Divorce | Access Online". Access.
  7. ^ "Suture (1993)" – via
  8. ^ "'Scruples' adapted by ABC as possible drama".
  9. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 31, 2012). "'Scruples' Adaptation From Tony Krantz & Natalie Portman Ordered To Pilot At ABC".
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 8, 2020). "'Thirtysomething': ABC Picks Up Sequel Series Pilot With Original Cast From Marshall Herskovitz & Ed Zwick".
  11. ^ a b "Thirtysomething's Mel Harris on Owning Her 6 Marriages: 'Clearly I Believe in It Because I've Kept Trying'".
  12. ^ appearance on Oprah Where Are They Now

External links

This page was last edited on 8 August 2021, at 19:23
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