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Adrienne Barbeau
Barbeau in June 2011
Adrienne Jo Barbeau

(1945-06-11) June 11, 1945 (age 78)
Education Del Mar High School
  • Actress
  • singer
  • author
Years active 1968–present
Known for Grease
The Fog
Escape from New York
Swamp Thing
General Hospital
(m. 1979; div. 1984)

Billy Van Zandt
(m. 1992; div. 2018)
Children 3

Adrienne Jo Barbeau (born June 11, 1945) is an American actress, singer and the author of three books. Barbeau came to prominence in the 1970s as Broadway's original Rizzo in the musical Grease, and as Carol Traynor, the divorced daughter of Maude Findlay (played by Bea Arthur) on the sitcom Maude (1972–1978). In 1980, she began appearing in horror and science fiction films, including The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981), Creepshow (1982), and Swamp Thing (1982). During the 1990s, she became known for providing the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995), and subsequent Batman cartoon series. In the 2000s, she appeared on the HBO series Carnivàle as Ruthie the snake dancer.

Early life

Barbeau was born on June 11, 1945, in Sacramento, California, the daughter of Armene (née Nalbandian) and Joseph Barbeau, who was a public relations executive for Mobil Oil. Her mother was of Armenian descent and her father's ancestry was French Canadian, Irish, and German. She has a sister, Jocelyn, and a half brother on her father's side, Robert Barbeau, who still resides in the Sacramento area. She attended Del Mar High School in San Jose, California. In her autobiography, Barbeau says that she first caught the show business bug while entertaining troops at army bases throughout Southeast Asia, touring with the San Jose Civic Light Opera.



Barbeau made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof, and later took the role of Hodel, Tevye's daughter; Bette Midler played her character's sister Tzeitel. She left Fiddler in 1971 to play the leading role of Cookie Kovac in the off-Broadway nudie musical Stag Movie. Barbeau went on to star in more than 25 musicals and plays, including Women Behind Bars and Grease. She received a Theater World Award and a 1972 Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of tough-girl Rizzo in Grease.

During the 1970s, Barbeau starred as Carol Traynor, the daughter of Bea Arthur's title character, on the comedy series Maude, which ran from 1972 to 1978 (actress Marcia Rodd had originated the role of Carol in a 1972 episode of All in the Family, also titled "Maude," alongside Arthur). During the last season of Maude, Barbeau did not appear in the majority of the episodes. In a 2009 Entertainment Tonight TV interview, Barbeau mentioned that she had good on- and off-camera chemistry with Arthur; she said that the two stayed close until Arthur's death on April 25, 2009. Barbeau and Arthur reunited on camera during a 2007 taping of The View, reminiscing about their long-running friendship and their years as co-stars on Maude. About her relationship with Arthur, Barbeau said in a 2018 interview with Dread Central:

"I was doing an interview for this one-woman show that I am doing and the interviewer asked, 'What do people usually ask you,' and I said, 'They always want to know what it was like working with Bea.' She was fantastic and, you know, I realized years later how much I took it for granted because it was my first experience on television. I just assumed that everyone was as giving as she was, as professional as she was, that everyone who was doing a TV show showed up knowing their lines and showed up on time and was willing to say to the writers, 'I think this line was funnier if Adie had said it or Conrad had said it or Bill had said it.' I mean, she was just the best, she was the best, very funny. She was not Maude when she wasn't saying those lines. I don't know if I'd say she was quiet. She was a homebody. She had her sons, her dog and her cooking and she wasn't into the celebrity scene and she was a great lady. I loved her dearly and we had a great cast and they were my family for six years. I loved each of them and all of them and it was the best experience anyone could've had, being introduced to television like that!"

Barbeau was cast in numerous television films and series such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Valentine Magic on Love Island and Battle of the Network Stars.

Barbeau's popularity stemmed partly from what critic Joe Bob Briggs referred to as the "two enormous talents on that woman," and her typecasting as a "tough broad". Despite her initial success, she said at the time that she thought of Hollywood as a "flesh market" and that she would rather appear in films that "explore the human condition" and "deal with issues".

Barbeau's then-husband, director John Carpenter, cast her in his horror film, The Fog (1980), which was her first theatrical film appearance. The film was released on February 1, 1980, and was a theatrical success, grossing over $21 million in the United States alone, and establishing Barbeau as a genre film star. She subsequently appeared in a number of early-1980s horror and science fiction films, including Escape from New York (1981) (also from Carpenter), Creepshow (1982) and Swamp Thing (1982). Of her screen work with Carpenter, Barbeau has stated: "John is a great director. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. It's simple and it's easy [working with him]."

She also appeared in the Burt Reynolds comedy The Cannonball Run (1981), and as the shrewish wife of Rodney Dangerfield's character in Back to School (1986).


In the 1990s, Barbeau mostly appeared in made-for-television films such as Scott Turow's The Burden of Proof (1992), as well as playing Oswald's mother on The Drew Carey Show and gaining new fame among animation fans as Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series and Gotham Girls.

She also worked as a television talk show host and a weekly book reviewer for KABC talk radio in Los Angeles. In 1999, she guest starred in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" as Romulan Senator Kimara Cretak.

In 1998, Barbeau released her debut album as a folk singer, the self-titled Adrienne Barbeau. She starred in the cartoon series Totally Spies! doing the voice of villainess Helga Von Guggen in seasons 1, 2 and 4.

From 2003 to 2005, she starred on the HBO series Carnivàle. From March to May 2006, she starred as Judy Garland in the off-Broadway play The Property Known as Garland.

in 2007, Barbeau played a cameo role in Rob Zombie's Halloween, a "reimagining" of the 1978 film of the same name, written and directed by her first husband, John Carpenter. Her scene was cut from the theatrical version of the film but is included in the DVD version.

In 2009, Barbeau was cast as "The Cat Lady" in the family comedy The Dog Who Saved Christmas, as Scooter's Mom in the 3D animated feature Fly Me to the Moon, and as a hospice patient in the love-story Reach for Me.

Also in 2009, Barbeau had guest spots in the first episode of Showtime's hit series Dexter (Season 4).

She voiced the Greek goddess Hera in the video game God of War III released for the PlayStation 3 in March 2010. In August 2010, she began a role on the long-running ABC daytime drama General Hospital. In 2012, she voiced UNSC scientist Dr. Tilson in the highly anticipated game Halo 4, released on the Xbox 360 in November 2012. She voiced characters in the 2015 Mad Max video game.

She appears in Argo (2012), playing the former wife of Alan Arkin's character.

Barbeau reprised her role as Catwoman in an animated remake of the third trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. This trailer was made to both celebrate the upcoming movie as well as to promote Hub's ten episode marathon of Batman: The Animated Series.

In 2015, she assumed the role of Berthe in Pippin with the Broadway Touring Company of the renowned musical.

Personal life

In 1978, Barbeau met director John Carpenter on the set of his television movie Someone's Watching Me! The couple wed on January 1, 1979 and lived in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, California although according to Barbeau remained "totally outside Hollywood's social circles". They remained together for five years, but separated shortly after the birth of their son John "Cody" Carpenter on May 7, 1984. The couple then divorced later that same year.

In 1991, Barbeau met actor/playwright/producer Billy Van Zandt, when she was cast in the West Coast premiere of his play Drop Dead! Van Zandt is the half-brother of musician/actor Steven Van Zandt. The couple wed in 1992. On March 17, 1997, at age 51, she gave birth to twin boys, Walker Steven and William Dalton Van Zandt, quipping that she was the only one on the maternity ward who was a member of AARP. The couple filed for divorce in 2018.



Year Title Role Notes
1980 The Fog Stevie Wayne
1981 Escape from New York Maggie
1981 The Cannonball Run Marcie
1982 Swamp Thing Alice Cable
1982 The Thing Computer (voice)
1982 Creepshow Wilma Northrup Segment: "The Crate"
1984 The Next One Andrea
1984 Terror in the Aisles Stevie Wayne Archival footage
1986 Back to School Vanessa
1987 Open House Lisa Grant
1989 Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death Dr. Kurtz
1990 Easter Story, TheThe Easter Story Mary Magdalene (voice) Direct-to-video short
1990 Two Evil Eyes Jessica Valdemar Segment: "The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar"
1993 Father Hood Celeste
1993 Demolition Man Main Frame Computer (voice) Uncredited
1994 Silk Degrees Violet
1995 Judge Dredd Central (voice) Uncredited
1998 Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island Simone Lenoir (voice) Direct-to-video
1999 A Wake in Providence Aunt Lidia
2000 Across the Line Mrs. Randall
2000 Convent, TheThe Convent Adult Christine
2002 No Place Like Home Evie
2003 Ghost Rock Mattie Baker
2007 Halloween Her role was cut from the final finished film, but was later included on the DVD Special Edition
2007 Unholy Martha
2008 Fly Me to the Moon Scooter's Mom Voice
Reach for Me Valerie
2009 Alice Jacobs Is Dead Alice Jacobs Short film
2012 Complacent Judy Sanderson
2012 Argo Nina / Serski
2015 Divine Access Catherine
2016 ISRA 88 Dr. Withersford
2017 Death House Narrator
2018 Big Legend Rita Laird
2018 For the Love of Jessee Katharyn
2020 Unearth Kathryn Dolan
2022 Hellblazers Georgia
2022 Early Retirement Pat (Short)
TBA The Pitch-Fork Elle Pre-production
TBA Kindling Mother Ruth Pre-production

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1972 Theatre World Award Performance Grease Won
1972 Tony Award Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical Grease Nominated
1977 Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Maude Nominated
1991 Fangoria Chainsaw Award Chainsaw award for Best Supporting Actress - Television Film Due occhi diabolici Nominated
1999 1st Online Film & Television Association OFTA Television Award Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Nominated
2002 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Supporting Actress The Convent Won
2004 Satellite Awards Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television Series Carnivàle Nominated
2010 1st Chicago Horror Film Festival Festival Award for Best Actress Alice Jacobs Is Dead Won

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Adrienne Barbeau para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
African-American female entrepreneurs
Madam C. J. Walker
Janet Emerson Bashen
Annie Turnbo Malone
Maggie L. Walker
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