Teri Garr is an Oscar Award-nominated retired actress, comedienne, and dancer, who primarily played comedic roles throughout her acting career.
Age, Early Life, and Education Background
Teri Ann Garr was born under the Sagittarius zodiac sign on 11 December 1944, in Lakewood, Ohio, which makes her 79 years old as of 2023. Her father was the actor, vaudeville performer and comedian Eddie Garr, who rose to stardom for his performance in the Broadway drama “Tobacco Road”, and her mother was Phyllis Lind Garr (nee Schmotzer), a wardrobe mistress, model and dancer. Teri is of Irish roots from her father’s side and Austrian through her mother. She spent her childhood days in Cleveland, Ohio, and New Jersey before her family eventually settled in North Hollywood, California. Garr’s elder brothers are Edward Jr. and Phillip Garr.
Sadly, Garr’s father succumbed to a heart attack in Los Angeles when she was 11 years old. She recalled during an interview how his death left her family devastated, without any source of income. She often praises her mother for working hard to put her and her siblings through college. When she was a teenager, Garr developed a strong interest in dancing, and would train in ballet for three to four hours a day.
Garr attended North Hollywood High School, and matriculated to California State University, Northridge, which was then called San Fernando Valley State College. The former actress dropped out in her sophomore year and relocated to New York City, where she began her career as an actress; the Ohio native enrolled at Actors Studio, and later joined the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute to hone her acting skills.
During the early phase of her career, the now retired actress was credited as Teri Hope and Terry Carr. Many have termed Teri a ‘legendary comedienne’, and in the early ‘80s, the late American movie critic, Pauline Kael, called the actress ‘the funniest neurotic dizzy dame on the screen.’ She made her film debut in 1963 with a minor role in “A Swingin’ Affair”, then Teri met the American actor, choreographer and director, David Winter, who later became her good friend, mentor, and dance coach when she relocated to Los Angeles to audition for a role in the musical “West Side Story.” Winter helped her secure roles as a go-go dancer in various films, including Elvis Presley’s most successful film “Viva Las Vegas.”
#BlinkAndYoullMissIt via #VivaLasVegas:
Teri Garr wondering why she's not dancing with Elvis instead of Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas (1964)#TeriGarr #TCMParty#ElvisPresley #AnnMargrethttps://t.co/AlqPb6K0jV pic.twitter.com/7LL6as4mTB
— Daily Flick NY (@DailyFlickNY) July 9, 2021
Rise to Stardom and Continued Success
In late 1968, Garr landed her first notable role in the episode “Assignment: Earth” of the sci-fi series “Star Trek.” 1972 saw her appear regularly in “The Ken Berry “WOW” Show”, and then later in the variety show “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.”
Garr appeared in various successful films in the mid- and late-‘70s, including Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 mystery thriller “The Conversation,” Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy horror “Young Frankenstein” – which marked her career breakthrough – and Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” among others. In 1982, Garr’s fame skyrocketed when she was cast alongside Dustin Hoffman in the comedy film “Tootsie.”
Teri was a regular cast member of the police drama series “McCloud”, then in 1980, ‘83, and ‘85, she hosted “Saturday Night Live”; she’s also credited with guest appearances in “Late Night with David Letterman.” Garr played the recurring role of Phoebe Abbott in the acclaimed sitcom “Friends”, in the late ‘80s, but her career began declining in the late ‘90s due to her struggles with multiple sclerosis. She played minor roles in various projects including the 1998 children’s movie “Casper Meets Wendy”, and the 2007 comedies “Kabluey” and “Expired.” Before she retired, Garr appeared in the TV series “How to Marry a Billionaire” in 2011.
In 2016, she released her autobiography “Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood,” which discusses her successful career in the showbiz industry and her multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
Why #TeriGarr Disappeared From Hollywood
Posted by Nicki Swift on Friday, June 4, 2021
Awards and Nominations
Out of the six awards she was nominated for, Garr has won one. In 1983, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in the film “Tootsie.” She scooped a National Board of Review (NBR) Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble for her performance in “Ready to Wear.” Moreover, she was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for her performance in “Tootsie” and a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and a CableACE Award for her performance in the episode “The Tale of the Frog Prince” in the series “Faerie Tale Theater.”
In the ‘80s, Garr dated the film executive and producer, Roger Birnbaum, who is probably best known for producing the “Rush Hour” film series; their relationship lasted for seven years. Thereafter, she met the physician David Kipper, through her friend the late American writer and actress Carrie Fisher; the duo dated for seven years before calling it quits. In 1993, Garr exchanged vows with John O’Neil, a building contractor and before the year ended, they adopted a child and named her Molly O’Neil, however, the couple divorced in 1996.
In late 2002, Teri revealed that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). After years of secrecy and uncertainty about her diagnosis, she explained during an interview why she had gone public about her health status: ‘I’m telling my story for the first time so I can help people. I can help people know they aren’t alone and tell them there are reasons to be optimistic because, today, treatment options are available,’ and stating that she began noticing symptoms as far back as during the filming of “Tootsie” in 1982. She was selected as the National Ambassador for the non-profit organization, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), and the head of the organization’s Women Against Multiple Sclerosis (WAMS) program, after she made her condition public. In 2005, she was named NMSS’s Ambassador of the Year.
In 2006, Teri went into a week-long coma, caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm, a cerebrovascular disorder weakening cerebral artery and vein walls resulting in the ballooning of the affected blood vessel. Luckily, she regained her motor skills and speech after therapy.
In early 1988 Teri was detained for trespassing in Mercury, Nevada while protesting against the testing of nuclear weapons in the area.
She is outspoken when it comes to issues affecting the youth.
The retired actress has also worked with the non-profit organization, The Trevor Project, which raises awareness about gay rights and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.
Height, Weight, and Physical Appearance
Teri is of Caucasian ethnicity, and has a set of dark brown eyes, and brown hair. She is 5ft 7ins (1.70m) tall and weighs approximately 130lbs (59kgs), with vital statistics of 33-25-35. She wears shoe and dress sizes 7(US) and 5(US) respectively.
Garr’s career has spanned several decades, which has made her famous and rich. She’s worth around $6 million, as of 2023.