The actress Jane Frances Kaczmarek was born on 21st December 1955, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. She’s perhaps still best known for portraying Lois in the Fox sitcom “Malcom in the Middle”, a role that spanned six years and earned her seven Primetime Emmy and three Golden Globe nominations. Other notable roles of Jane’s include her depiction of Linda in “Equal Justice”, her role as Emily in “The Heavenly Kid”, and her recurring roles in “Cybill” and “Frasier”.
Jane was raised by parents Evelyn and Edward Kaczmarek, who worked as a teacher and in the US Department of Defense respectively. She was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and matriculated from Greendale High School before furthering her studies at the University of Wisconsin, and Yale University.
Rachel’s first credited movie appearance was in 1983, when she played Mrs Wilkes in the action war film “Uncommon Valor”. She also had guest starring roles in episodes of “St. Elsewhere”, “Remington Steele”, and “Scarecrow and Mrs King”. The next year, she was Ann Raftis in “Falling in Love”, a romantic drama film starring Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep.
From 1985 to 1990, Rachel added dozens of acting credits to her resume. Her recurring TV roles included portraying Mary Newell Abbott in ten episodes of “Hometown”, and playing Linda Bauer in 22 episodes of “Equal Justice”; the actress also enjoyed guest starring roles in “American Playhouse”, “I’ll Take Manhattan”, “Crazy Like a Fox”, and other shows. As for movie roles, she dazzled viewers by bringing characters such as Gail Cornell and Robyn Seymour to life in “D.O.A” and “Vice Versa” respectively.
The 1990s was another jam-packed decade for Jane, who by now was making a comfortable living as a working actress. In “Pleasantville”, she had a minor role as David’s mother; she also stepped out of her supposed comfort zone by playing Dr. Anne Biddows in “The Chamber”, a legal thriller film directed by James Foley.
TV work continued to be Jane’s bread and butter, as she had minor and guest starring roles in “L.A Law”, “ABC Afterschool Specials”, “Law & Order”, and “Picket Fences”. She also played Helene Thompson in three episodes of “Party of Five”.
Things turned around for Jane in 1999, when she was cast as Lois in “Malcolm in the Middle”. When the series premiered in January 2000, critics dubbed her role as “a true breakout; a female Homer Simpson”, and praises were sung for her witty one-liners and comedic timing. Jane later credited the show for bringing out her comedic side, saying in an interview: “[Before “Malcolm”] I couldn’t even get auditions for comedies. I played very unfunny people.”
Jane played Lois in 151 episodes of the sitcom; despite not winning any Golden Globe or Primetime Emmy awards, she was nominated for plenty in the Best Actress category and similar, and became a household name for millions of Americans. Jane found scant time for other projects, although she did do voicework in episodes of “The Simpsons”.
When “Malcolm in the Middle” came to an end in 2006, Jane had no trouble finding work. With recurring roles in series such as “Raising the Bar”, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”, “Playing House”, and “Help Me Help You”, the actress had her plate full for several years, and showed no signs of slowing down.
The Gwen-issance is set to begin! Jane Kaczmarek is back as Gwen in Tuesday's all-new episode of Playing House.
In 2011, Jane was the narrator in “Wisconsin’s Nazi Resistance: The Mildred Fish-Harnack Story”. The documentary followed the life of Mildred Fish-Harnack, famous for being the only American woman to be personally sentenced to death for her role in the German Nazi Resistance Movement; the documentary was a PBS and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board production.
Jane’s latest TV role was in 2019, when she played Eleanor in an episode of “Mixed-ish”, whereas her last movie role was in the 2018 drama film “6 Balloons”. The actress has not announced any new projects at time of writing.
Jane married fellow actor Bradley Whitford in August 1992. The couple lived in Los Angeles and had three children; both were hardworking philanthropists who were often seen together at charitable events; they also co-founded the organization Clothes off our Back, which auctioned off celebrity award show outfits and donated the proceeds to children’s charities. They also attended major awards shows together, with Bradley always supporting Jane as she went from a relatively unknown actress to a sitcom star.
In June 2009, the couple shocked their fans by announcing their imminent divorce. One of the last times they had been seen together publicly was in September 2008, at the opening of a Los Angeles production of “The House of Blue Leaves”. When asked to sum up her love life in a June 2009 interview that was published just days before the divorce announcement, Jane replied with: “That’s a big no comment”.
The divorce of Jane and Bradley was finalized in October 2010. The same year, they sold their luxurious villa in San Marino, California. At the time, Bradley released a statement asking for the media to respect their wishes for privacy as they focused on raising their children; as neither party confirmed why they’d divorced, tabloid rumors and speculation abounded over the next few months until public interest waned.
Speaking to the Boston Herald in 2010, Jane hinted that she hadn’t been the one to file divorce papers, saying: “The good thig is you realize you have the chance to completely redefine yourself and start your life over, whether you want to or not.” Both Jane and Bradley refused to speak ill of the other, and the divorce proceedings were as amicable as possible, with the couple agreeing on joint custody of their children, and splitting all their assets evenly.
In 2018, Brandon became engaged to Amy Landecker. Jane, however, has preferred to remain tight-lipped regarding her dating life, so we have no way of knowing if the “Malcolm in the Middle” star has found love after her divorce or not.