Swoosie Kurtz

Before becoming the award-winning actress with a unique name and colorful history that we know today, Swoosie Kurtz was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, on 6th September 1944. Her mother, Margaret Rogers, was an author, whereas her father, US Air Force Colonel Frank Allen Kurtz Jr., was a bomber pilot in World War II.

Many fans of the actress have often wondered where her moniker came from. Frank gave his daughter the original nickname after “The Swoose”, an early Boeing bomber plane that he piloted during his time in the Air Force. Frank, who was born in 1911 and died in 1996, was an American Olympic diver who won a bronze medal in the 10-meter platform at the 1932 games. After matriculating from Hollywood High School, he furthered his studies at the University of Southern California, as he was especially interested in joining the college diving team. Unfortunately, he placed fifth in the 1936 Olympic Games due to a shoulder injury.

After over two decades in the Air Force, Frank retired and became an executive of the William May Garland development firm. In 2012, he was posthumously inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.


Swoosie made her first TV appearance in an episode of “The Donna Reed Show” when she was just 17 years old. Six years later, her theatrical debut came in the form of the role of Ann in “The Firebugs”, which lasted one week at the Martinique Theatre. Two years later, she played Janice Vickery in the play “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” at the Mercer Arts Theatre.

In 1971, the actress returned to TV with a minor role in “As the World Turns”. The lengthy gaps in Swoosie’s resume can perhaps be chalked up to the actress having uncredited roles; in any case, five years passed before she played Julie Di Nata in an episode of “Kojak”, a year after she had made her Broadway debut in the 1975 remake of “Ah, Wilderness!”.

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1977 was the year of Swoosie’s feature film debut, in the sports comedy movie “Slap Shot”. Working alongside great talents of the time such as Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean, the Nebraskan had a secondary role as Shirley Upton. In the same year, she played Marsha in the romantic drama film “First Love”.

Aged 34, Swoosie finally gained the recognition she deserved thanks to the theatrical productions “Uncommon Women and Others” and “A History of the American Film”. She would later win the Outer Critics Circle, Tony, and Drama Desk awards – known in Broadway as the “triple crowns” – for her role as Gwen in “Fifth of July”. Around the same time, Swoosie guest starred in episodes of “Uncommon Women and Others” and had roles in the TV movies “Mating Season” and “Marriage is Alive and Well”.

The 1980s were an interesting decade for the thespian, as she played a hooker in “The World According to Garp”, had a leading role as Laurie Morgan in “Love, Sidney” – a performance which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category – and performed at renowned theatres around the US. In 1986, the actress would win her second Tony award for her portrayal of Bananas Shaughnessy in “The House of Blue Leaves”.

Despite TV films and theatrical productions being Swoosie’s specialty, she also excelled with her performance in the comedy-drama film “Baja Oklahoma”. Her portrayal of Doris Steadman earned her two important awards nominations, with one of them being a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in Series, Miniseries, or Television Film.

With each project she embarked on, Swoosie served as an inspiration to actors and actresses hoping to make it in the industry past a certain age. In her mid-40s, she had roles in “Dangerous Liaisons”, “Bright Lights, Bright City”, and “Vice Versa”; she was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie after playing Joanne in “The Image”.

In the 1990s, Swoosie also became a force to be reckoned with on TV, thanks to her role as Alex Reed Barker in the family drama “Sisters”. Alex soon became a fan favorite and earned Swoosie a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, and yet another Primetime Emmy Award nomination. Naturally, the Nebraskan’s theatre career was put on hold due to a busy filming schedule; from 1991 to 1999, the actress performed in just three plays. 1990 was also the year Swoosie won her first Emmy for her guest-starring role in “Carol & Company”.

Other career highlights include Swoosie’s leading role as Lillian Hellman in the 2002 play “Imaginary Friends”, her appearances in “Desperate Housewives”, “Lost”, and “ER”, and her recurring roles in “Huff”, “Nurse Jackie”, “That’s Life”, and “Still Standing”. From 2010 to 2016, the actress was also one of the leading characters of “Mike & Molly”, appearing as Joyce Flynn in over 120 episodes.

Some of Swoosie’s latest projects include playing Mayim Bialik’s mother in “Call Me Kat”, a role which began in 2021, and voicing Minka Kropotkin in “Rugrats”. Despite mainly focusing on theatre and television, she has also starred in a mix of big Hollywood productions and critically acclaimed indie films, such as “Liar Liar”, “Citizen Ruth”, and “Caribbean Mystery”.

Personal Life & Net Worth

Swoosie’s only known romantic partner to date has been the artist and broadcast director Joshua White of “The Joshua Light Show”. The couple were in a serious relationship from 1964 to 1970, unexpectedly breaking things off when many thought that they would marry and form a family. Since then, the actress has done an excellent job at keeping her personal life under wraps.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact figure, but the “Nurse Jackie” star is said to be worth $6 million, thanks to her long and fruitful career. As Swoosie has demonstrated that she’s not stopping any time soon, it’s very possible that her fortune will continue to grow as she enters her golden years.

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