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Betty Buckley
Betty Buckley 2009.jpg
Buckley in December 2009
Betty Lynn Buckley

(1947-07-03) July 3, 1947 (age 76)
Alma mater Texas Christian University
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1964–present
Notable work
Miss Collins in Stephen King's Carrie (1976)
Dixie Scott in Tender Mercies (1983)
Sondra Walker in Frantic (1988)
Mrs. Jones in The Happening (2008)
Grizabella in "Cats" (1982)
Television Eight Is Enough (1977–1981)
Peter Flood
(m. 1972; div. 1979)
Relatives Norman Buckley (brother)

Betty Lynn Buckley (born July 3, 1947) is an American actress and singer. Buckley is the winner of a Tony Award, and was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Olivier Award. In 2012, she was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

Buckley won the 1983 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats. She went on to play Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1994–96) in both London and New York, receiving a 1995 Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical, and was nominated for the 1997 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Triumph of Love. Her other Broadway credits include 1776 (1969), Pippin (1973), and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985). From September 2018-August 2019 she starred as the title role in the U.S. national tour of Hello, Dolly.

Buckley starred in the TV series Eight Is Enough from 1977 to 1981 and played gym teacher Miss Collins in the 1976 film Carrie, before going on to star in the short-lived Broadway musical version of Carrie in 1988, playing Carrie White's mother, Margaret. Her other film roles include Dixie Scott in Tender Mercies (1983), Sondra Walker in Frantic (1988), Kathy in Another Woman (1988) and Mrs. Jones in The Happening (2008). She received a Saturn Award nomination for her role as Dr. Karen Fletcher in the 2016 film Split. Her other television credits include the series Oz (2001–03), and the series Preacher (2018).

Early life

Betty Lynn Buckley was born in Big Spring, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, the daughter of Betty Bob (née Diltz), a dancer and journalist, and Ernest Lynn Buckley, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, former dean of engineering at South Dakota State University, and Architectural Structures professor at the University of Texas - Arlington. She is the oldest of their four children. She has three brothers—Norman Buckley is a film editor and TV director, while Patrick and Michael (died November 21, 2020) trained as engineers. While a student at Texas Christian University, she was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. She was crowned "Miss Fort Worth" in 1966 and was runner-up in the Miss Texas competition. Buckley was then invited to perform at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, where she was spotted by a talent scout. After returning to TCU to earn her college degree, she toured Asia to visit soldiers wounded in the Vietnam War. Then she worked for a time as a reporter for the Fort Worth Press, but went to New York City in 1969, where she landed the role of Martha Jefferson in 1776 her first day in town.


Film and television career

Betty Buckley Eight Is Enough 1977
Buckley as Abby Abbott in Eight is Enough, 1977

She is known for the 1977–81 TV dramedy Eight Is Enough. She joined the show in its second season when the original star, Diana Hyland, died after the first four episodes of season one, and her character Joan Bradford died as well. Buckley was cast as the widower's new romantic interest, Sandra Sue "Abby" Abbott, who became stepmother of the eight children to which the series' title refers.

Buckley appeared in the original movie version of Carrie in 1976, playing Miss Collins, Carrie's gym teacher. In 1977, she recorded an uncredited solo on the song "Walking in Space", in the movie Hair.

On television, she received two Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Program/Special, for NBC Special Treat - Bobby and Sarah (1984) and ABC Afterschool Special - Taking a Stand (1989).

Her screen roles during the 1980s include Bruce Beresford's film Tender Mercies, where she played a country music singer and sang the Academy Award-nominated song "Over You". She also appeared in the Woody Allen film Another Woman (1988), Roman Polanski's Frantic (1988), Lawrence's Kasden's Wyatt Earp (1994).

From 2001 to 2003, she played a role in seasons 4–6 of the HBO series Oz.

She also has guest-starred in a number of television series, including Without a Trace, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Monk. She guest-starred in a Christmas special of the TV series Remember WENN, in which she sang "You Make It Christmas". She appeared as Marion Leckie, mother of Robert Leckie in the HBO series The Pacific, which aired in 2010.

Also in 2010, she appeared in the 18th episode of Melrose Place as a food critic cast by her brother Norman Buckley, who directed the episode. She also guest-starred in an episode of the Fox series The Chicago Code. She was a recurring guest star on Pretty Little Liars as Regina Marin, also directed by her brother Norman. In 2008, Buckley played Mrs. Jones in M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening. In 2017, Buckley was one of the stars of M. Night Shyamalan's Split, the number-one film at the box office for three weeks.

Her other television credits include guest-starring as Meg's mother in The Leftovers on November 30, 2015, appearing in five episodes of the 2017-2021 series Supergirl. Buckley is also cast in season three of the series Preacher in 2018.

Stage career

Buckley made her Broadway debut in 1969 in the original production of the musical 1776; she has been called "The Voice of Broadway" by New York magazine.

In 1982, Buckley starred as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of the musical Cats, which features the song "Memory". She stayed with the production for 18 months. For this role, she won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Buckley starred in both London (1994) and New York (1995) as Norma Desmond in the musical Sunset Boulevard. For her role in the London production, she received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

In 1997, she starred as Hesione in the Broadway musical Triumph of Love and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical

Buckley sang "Memory" from Cats at the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2006 as part of the tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 2007, Buckley appeared with Quintessence at Lincoln Center in its Great American Songbook series.

Buckley participated in a reading of the musical Ruthless! in September, 2010, playing the role of Sylvia St. Croix/Ruth DelMarco. She then played Mrs. White in the off-Broadway comedy White's Lies from March–May 2010. In 2011, Buckley starred in the Dallas Theater Center production of Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring with Tovah Feldshuh.

In 1988, Buckley starred as Margaret White in Carrie: The Musical. This musical is infamous for its short-lived life on Broadway, and has been a discussion among many musical fans for decades. In 2012, Carrie came back to the stage in an off-broadway version with many revisions.

On January 28, 2013, she was inducted into The American Theater Hall of Fame. From January–March 2013, she starred in the London Premiere of Jerry Herman's Dear World, receiving rave reviews. The musical was directed and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, with whom Buckley had previously worked on Cats.

In September 2013, she starred in the world premiere of Horton Foote's The Old Friends at the Signature Theatre off-Broadway. She repeated her performance in 2014 at Houston's famed Alley Theatre.

In May 2015, it was announced that Buckley would appear as Big Edie in the musical, Grey Gardens at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. The production ran August 4, 2015, through August 30, 2015. She reprised the role from July 13, to August 14, 2016, at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.

On February 12, 2018, it was announced that Buckley would portray the title role in the first national tour of the 2017 Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, beginning performances in October 2018 in the Connor Palace at Cleveland's Playhouse Square. The cast included Lewis J. Stadlen as Horace Vandergelder, Nic Rouleau as Cornelius, Analisa Leaning as Irene Molloy, Jess LeProtto as Barnaby, Kristen Hahn as Minnie Fay, Colin LeMoine as Ambrose Kemper, Morgan Kirner, as Ermengarde, and Jessica Sheridan as Ernestina. Ms. Buckley finished her leg of the tour in September 2019 and is now preparing concerts scheduled in early 2020 at the Cafe Carlyle in NYC and other venues.

Music career

Betty Buckley singing 2012
Buckley singing the National Anthem at MetLife Stadium, in 2012

Hope, Buckley's 18th solo album, was released on June 8, 2018, and she continues to appear in concert across the U.S. each year. She is also a composer; her first recording contains mostly songs she wrote. She is also featured on many Broadway compilation recordings, and on the original cast recording of 1776; the original Broadway recording of Cats; the London recording of Promises, Promises; Triumph of Love and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

In 2002, Buckley was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Category, for her album Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar, which was recorded at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London. This was her second Grammy nomination; she had previously been nominated in 2000, in the Best Spoken Word Album category for The Diaries of Adam and Eve.

Her albums Quintessence and 1967 were released by Playbill Records in February 2008. Quintessence features jazz arrangements of standards by her former collaborator, jazz pianist Kenny Werner; while 1967 is a recording produced by T-Bone Burnett, and made when Buckley was just 19.

Her album Bootleg: Boardmixes From the Road was released in 2010, and her recording of her hit show at Feinstein's at the Regency with pianist/collaborator Christian Jacob, entitled Ah, Men: The Boys of Broadway debuted on 28 August 2012.

Her album Ghostlight was produced by the T Bone Burnett and was released on September 16, 2014.

Personal life

Buckley was married to Peter Flood in 1972, divorced in 1979, and has no children.

Accomplished horsewoman/NCHA cutting horse

She lives on a ranch in Texas with two horses, a donkey, several rescued cats, and three dogs, and, as an accomplished horsewoman, participated in NCHA cutting horse competitions for several years while continuing to appear in films, television and theater and to sing concerts in a wide variety of venues.

Acting and music teacher

Buckley has also taught song interpretation and scene study for over 40 years. She conducts master classes in Fort Worth, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver and other cities around the country. In 2020, she has continued to hold her classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic from her home.

Buckley has a large following on social media and posts regularly.

Buckley's official website contains her concert and theater schedule, a detailed biography and timeline, and summaries of her singing and acting accomplishments.

Honorary Doctorates

She has received two Honorary Doctorates for her contribution to the Musical Theater from The Boston Conservatory and Marymount Manhattan College.


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Carrie Miss Collins
1983 Tender Mercies Dixie
1987 Wild Thing Leah
1988 Frantic Sondra Walker
1988 Another Woman Kathy
1992 Rain Without Thunder Beverly Goldring
1994 Last Time Out Maxine Black
1994 Wyatt Earp Virginia Earp
1995 Ride for Your Life Short film
1998 Of Love & Fantasy Dr. Tania Brandt Video
1999 Simply Irresistible Aunt Stella
2002 New World Order Rose Kross
2004 Mummy an' the Armadillo Let
2008 Happening, TheThe Happening Mrs. Jones
2011 5 Time Champion Fran
2016 Split Dr. Karen Fletcher
Year Title Role Notes
1977 Ryan's Hope Divorced Lady Episode: "1.405"
1977 Rubber Gun Squad, TheThe Rubber Gun Squad Rosie TV movie
1977–1981 Eight Is Enough Sandra Sue 'Abby' Abbott Bradford 102 episodes
1981 Ordeal of Bill Carney, TheThe Ordeal of Bill Carney Barbara Slaner TV movie
1984 Special Treat Mrs. Lawson Episode: "Bobby and Sarah"
1984 Three Wishes of Billy Grier, TheThe Three Wishes of Billy Grier Nancy Grier TV movie
1985 Evergreen Mrs. Bradford TV miniseries
1987 Roses Are for the Rich Ella TV movie
1987 Cagney & Lacey Marci Bruckman Episode: "You've Come a Long Way, Baby"
1989 ABC Afterschool Specials Lillian Robinson Episode: "Taking a Stand"
1989 Babycakes Wanda TV movie
1991 L.A. Law Elisa Chandler 2 episodes: "Something Old, Something ..."
"TV or Not TV"
1992 Mathnet Sally Storm Episode: "The Case of the Mystery Weekend"
1992 Bonnie & Clyde: The True Story Mrs. Parker TV movie
1992 Square One TV Sally Storm 3 episodes
1993 Tribeca Ruth Episode: "The Rainmaker"
1994 Betrayal of Trust Dr. Jan Galanti TV movie
1996 Critical Choices Dr. Margaret Ludlow TV movie
1996 Remember WENN Gloria Redmond Episode: "Christmas in the Airwaves"
2001–2003 Oz Suzanne Fitzgerald 18 episodes
2003 Monk Mrs. Fleming Episode: "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater"
2004 Jury, TheThe Jury Carla Kohler Episode: "Last Rites"
2005 Vinegar Hill Mary Margaret Grier TV movie
2006 Brothers & Sisters Iva March Episode: "Unaired Pilot"
2006 Without a Trace Catherine Ryder Episode: "Expectations"
2006 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Attorney Walsh 3 episodes: "Manipulated", "Clock", "Lunacy"
2010 Melrose Place Bernadette Reese Episode: "Sepulveda"
2010 Pacific, TheThe Pacific Marion Leckie Episode: "Home"
2011 Chicago Code, TheThe Chicago Code Sister Paul Episode: "Hog Butcher"
2011 Pretty Little Liars Regina Marin Episode: "I Must Confess"
2013 Episode: "She's Better Now"
2014 Getting On Dottie Levy Episode: "Is Soap A Hazardous Substance?"
2015 The Leftovers Jane Episode: "Ten Thirteen"
2016 Chicago Med Olga Barlow Episode: "Extreme Measures"
2017–2020 Supergirl Patricia Arias 4 episodes
2018 Preacher Madame Marie L'Angelle Season 3
2021 Supergirl Owl (voice) Episode: "Dream Weaver"
2021 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Trial Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell Episode: "Nightmares in Drill City"
Year Title Role Notes
1969 1776 Martha Jefferson Broadway
1969 Promises, Promises Fran Kubelik West End
1972 What's A Nice Girl Like You Doing in a State Like This Off-broadway
1973 Pippin Catherine Broadway (replacement)
1980–1981 I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road Heather New York/Los Angeles
1982–1984 Cats Grizabella Broadway
1985 Song and Dance Emma Broadway (replacement)
1985 Drood Edwin Drood / Miss Alice Nutting Broadway
1985 Juno's Swans Off-broadway (Second Stage Theatre)
1988 Carrie Margaret White Broadway
1992 The Threepenny Opera Jenny Diver Williamstown Theatre Festival
1992 Gypsy Mama Rose Arizona
1993 The Fourth Wall Chicago Opera Theatre
1994–1996 Sunset Boulevard Norma Desmond West End/Broadway (replacement)
1997 Triumph of Love Hesione Broadway
1998 Gypsy Mama Rose Paper Mill Playhouse
1998 Camino Real Hartford Stage
2003 Elegies: A Song Cycle Lincoln Center
2003 The Threepenny Opera Jenny Diver Williamstown Theatre Festival
2010 White's Lies Mrs. White Off-broadway
2011 Arsenic and Old Lace Martha Brewster Dallas Theater Center
2013 Dear World Countess Aurelia Charing Cross Theatre, London
2013–2014 The Old Friends Gertrude Off-broadway
Alley Theatre, Houston
2015 Follies Carlotta Campion Royal Albert Hall, London
2015–2016 Grey Gardens Big Edie Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbour, New York
Ahmanson Theater, Los Angeles
2018–2019 Hello, Dolly! Dolly Gallagher Levi National Tour


Name Year Label Notes
Betty Buckley 1985 Rizzoli
Children Will Listen 1993 Sterling
With One Look 1994 Sterling
New Ways to Dream – Songs from Sunset Boulevard 1994 Really Useful
The London Concert 1995 Sterling Recorded March 19, 1995
An Evening at Carnegie Hall 1996 Sterling Recorded June 10, 1996
Betty Buckley's Broadway 1996 Sterling Compilation album
Much More 1997 Sterling
Betty Buckley (15 Year Anniversary Re-Release) 2000 KO
Heart to Heart 2000 KO
The Doorway 2001 Fynsworth Alley
Stars and the Moon – Live at the Donmar 2001 Concord Recorded August 31 and September 1, 2000
1967 2007 Playbill Recorded in 1967, released 40 years later
Quintessence 2008 Playbill
Bootleg: Boardmixes from the Road 2010 Practical Magic
Ah, Men! The Boys of Broadway 2012 Palmetto Songs sung by men on Broadway
Ghostlight 2014 Practical Magic Produced by T Bone Burnett
Story Songs 2017 Palmetto
Hope June 8, 2018 Palmetto
Cast recordings
Show Cast Year Role
1776 Original Broadway Cast 1969 Martha Jefferson
Promises, Promises Original London Cast 1969 Fran Kubelik
Hair Film Soundtrack 1979
I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road Off-Broadway Cast 1980 Heather
Cats Original Broadway Cast 1982 Grizabella
The Mystery of Edwin Drood Original Broadway Cast 1985 Edwin Drood / Dick Datchery / Miss Alice Nutting
Prom Queens Unchained Studio Cast 1997
The Civil War Concept Album 1998
Triumph of Love Original Broadway Cast 1998 Hesione
Elegies, A Song Cycle Original Off-Broadway Cast 2003
Other contributions
Album Year Notes
Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall 1992 Sings "Children Will Listen"
George & Ira Gershwin: A Musical Celebration 1993 Sings "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
Mathis on Broadway 2000 Sings "Children Will Listen" and "Our Children"
The Maury Yeston Songbook 2003 Sings "I Had a Dream About You" and "Be on Your Own"
The Diaries of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain  ?? Reads the part of Eve

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1983 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical Cats Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
1985 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in a Children's Program/Special NBC Special Treat: Bobby and Sarah Nominated
1989 ABC Afterschool Special: Taking a Stand Nominated
1994 Olivier Award Best Actress in a Musical Sunset Boulevard Nominated
1998 Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical Triumph of Love Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
2000 Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album The Diaries of Adam and Eve Nominated
2002 Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar Nominated
2014 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play The Old Friends Nominated
2016 Fright Meter Awards Best Actress Split Won
2017 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated

Honorary awards

  • 2004 Legend of Cabaret Award
  • 2007 Texas Film Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2012 American Theater Hall of Fame Inductee

See also

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