Martha Plimpton

The actress, activist and former model Martha Plimpton was born in New York City, USA, on 16th November 1970. Although Martha may not be a household name to the new generation, she comes from an illustrious family of actors; in fact, her parents – Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton – met while performing in Broadway.

Martha’s paternal grandfather is John Carradine, who is considered one of the greatest character actors in America, and is known for his roles in dozens of Westerns and horror films. The Carradine family are hailed as Hollywood royalty by many, as John had five sons, four of whom became successful actors in their own right. Other famous maternal family members include writer and editor George Plimpton, and the cartoonist Bill Plympton.

Martha studied at Manhattan’s Professional Children’s School and made her first stage appearance at a young age, when her mother brought her out for the curtain call of “The Leaf People”.

Career: 1980s & 1990s

Martha began her career in the modelling world with a 1980s Calvin Klein campaign. In 1981, she had a small role in the feature film “Rollover”; three years later, she played Tommy Lee Jones’s daughter in the Deep South drama “The River Rat”, however, her performance as Stef Steinbrenner in “The Goonies” helped Martha become a minor celebrity with her own fanbase.

Thanks to her performance as Stef and her appearance in the series “Family Ties” in 1985, Martha began playing the role as the rebellious tomboy in other projects, such as “The Mosquito Coast” and “Shy People”. In 1988, she had a role in the ensemble comedy “Stars and Bars”, followed by her work in the Oscar-nominated film “Running on Empty”, in which she co-starred opposite River Phoenix – the actress’s performance in the latter earned her a Young Artist Award nomination.

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During Martha’s late teenage years, she was also active in the regional theater scene in Seattle, Washington, where her mother lived at the time. Mixing independent film appearances with supporting roles in big-budget projects, Martha starred in the German movie “Silence Like Glass”, had a role in Woody Allen’s “Another Woman”, and played Dianne Wiest’s teenage daughter in “Parenthood”, which raked in over $126 million at the box office and two Oscar nominations, making it one of Martha’s most successful projects since her role in “The Goonies”.

Now in the 1990s, Martha had a supporting role in the romantic drama “Stanley & Iris”, starring Robert De Niro and Jane Fonda. She also portrayed Helene Moskiewicz in the TV movie “A Woman At War”, and starred as Samantha in the 1992 movie of the same name. In 1993, she played an activist in “Inside Monkey Zetterland” and had a small role in the HBO TV film “Daybreak”, alongside other projects.

In 1997, Martha was cast as the female lead in “The Defenders: Payback”, which aired on the Showtime Network – two more episodes of the franchise, “The Defenders: Choice of Evils” and “The Defenders: Taking the First”, aired the following year. Although the network initially intended to make a “Defenders” series, the lead E.G Marshall died in 1998, bringing production to a grinding halt.

Shortly afterwards, Martha joined Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, appearing in “Pecker”, “Hedda Gabler”, and in 1999 she joined the cast of “ER” as recurring character Meg Corwyn.

Career: 2000s & 2010s

Workwise, the 2000s were a brilliant decade for Martha, as she starred in “The Sleepy Time Gal” and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award thanks to her appearance in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”. In 2004, the blonde guest-starred in an episode of 7th Heaven, and wrote another episode for the show, “Red Socks”; in the same year, she also voiced Miss Crumbles in the animated movie “Hair High”.

From 2005 to 2006, Martha had a recurring role in “Surface”, then when her time on the NBC show ended, she joined the cast of the stage play “The Coast of Utopia”, winning a Drama Desk Award and being nominated for a Tony Award for her performance. In August 2007 she played Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Shortly afterwards, she co-founded the production company Everything is Horrible.

In 2008, Martha received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play, for her work in “Top Girls”. She received her third consecutive Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical thanks to her performance as Gladys Bumps in “Pal Joey”. “Entertainment Weekly” described the thespian as one of the “hardest-working actors in showbiz”; she was also profiled by “The New York Times” a year later.

Now in the 2010s, Martha made various guest appearances on “The Leonard Lopate Show”. Around this time, the actress joined the board of directors of The Players, an exclusive social club founded by the actor Edwin Booth in 1888. The New York City native joined the cast of the Fox sitcom “Raising Hope” as Virginia Chance; the pilot episode aired in September 2010, with one reviewer saying: “Plimpton isn’t the only reason ‘Raising Hope’ could be the best new sitcom of the season, but she is the main reason.” Martha would later be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, thanks to her performance as Virginia.

In January 2010, Martha performed a one-woman show for the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook program, performing “Jolly Coppers on Parade” and “Ask” and tying the songs together with monologues discussing her experiences growing up in the 1970s. The actress also began branching out and narrating audiobooks.

From 2009 to 2013, Martha played attorney Patti Nyholm in four seasons of the legal drama “The Good Wife”; in 2012, her portrayal of Patti earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. In December 2010, the Steppenwolf Theatre also announced Martha as a guest of honor during their second annual “Salute to Women in the Arts” event.

From winning a trophy for best actress at the Whistler Film Festival, to playing Glenn Close and John Lithgow’s daughter in a star-studded Broadway revival of “A Delicate Balance”, Martha’s career refused to slow down as the years passed. In fact, the actress also had a starring role in the ABC sitcom “The Real O’Neals”, which premiered in March 2016, and voiced Yelena in “Frozen II” three and a half years later.

More recent projects of Martha’s include her portrayal as one of the leading roles in the drama film “Mass”, which saw her be nominated for the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress. Although Martha’s role as a conservative mother in the HBO drama-comedy series “Generation” was a short-lived one after the show was suddenly cancelled, the actress is set to have a leading role in the network’s upcoming miniseries, “The Regime”.

Moving on to Martha’s love life, the activist dated the tormented actor River Phoenix from 1986 to 1989, with the relationship ending due to his uncontrollable substance abuse. While together, the former lovebirds co-starred in “The Mosquito Coast” and “Running on Empty”. Little else is known about Martha’s personal life; according to online sources, she lives part-time in London, with her visa allowing her to stay until 2024, apparently ‘officially’ single..

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