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Lesley Ann Warren

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Basic Information

Lesley Ann Warren

Date of Birth: 16 August 1946
Place of Birth: New York City, New York, USA
Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)


Lesley Ann Warren (born August 16, 1946) is an American actress and singer who has appeared in more than sixty films, including The Happiest Millionaire, Victor Victoria, Clue, Burglar, Cop, Color of Night and Secretary. She's also had roles in popular TV shows such as Mission: Impossible, Desperate Housewives, Crossing Jordan, Will & Grace, and In Plain Sight.

Personal life

Warren was born in New York City, New York, the daughter of Carol (née Verblow), a singer, and William Warren, a real estate agent. Her family, whose surname is originally "Warrenoff", was of Russian Jewish descent. Her 1967 marriage to producer Jon Peters ended in divorce in 1977. They have one son, Christopher Peters (born 1968, now an actor). She married Ronald Taft in 2000.


The 5-foot-8 inch Warren began her career as a ballet dancer, training at the School of American Ballet. She entered the Actors Studio at the age of 17 — reputedly the youngest applicant ever to be accepted. Her Broadway debut came in 1963 in the musical, 110 in the Shade. She won the Theatre World Award for her performance in the 1965 flop musical Drat! The Cat!. In 1973, she portrayed Scarlett O'Hara in the Los Angeles production of the musical Scarlett; however the play was poorly reviewed and didn't continue to Broadway as planned.

Having failed to obtain the role of Liesl in the film version of The Sound of Music, Warren's first major television success was in the title role of Rodgers and Hammerstein's television special, Cinderella, in 1965. She later played the part of Dana Lambert, the leading female on the Mission: Impossible team during the 1970-1971 television season. According to The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier by Patrick White, she was considered too inexperienced for the part and left after only one year. Despite her departure, throughout the 1970s, Warren became a leading lady of TV movies, TV series and TV miniseries. She even hosted her own episode of The Muppet Show and made an occasional feature film. Warren also played Lois Lane in the 1975 TV special It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman, adapted from the Broadway musical of the same name. Warren went on to screen-test for the role of Lois Lane in the 1978 Superman film, a role that was ultimately won by Margot Kidder (footage of Warren's screen-test has been included as a supplemental feature on VHS and DVD releases of the film).

For her portrayal of a dim-witted gangster's moll in the 1982 musical-comedy Victor Victoria, Warren was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Warren is also a five-time Golden Globes nominee and won for the 1977 miniseries Harold Robbins' 79 Park Avenue. She was Emmy-nominated for the TV movie Family of Spies (1991).

In 1975, Warren played a disturbed mental patient opposite Peter Falk and George Hamilton in the Columbo episode A Deadly State of Mind. In the comedy film version of the popular board game Clue (1985), she starred as one of the prime murder suspects, Miss Scarlet. In 1986, Lesley was prominently featured in Bob Seger's popular music video for his hit song "American Storm". In 1989, she appeared in Aerosmith video "Janie's Got a Gun" where she played Janie's mother.

Warren had recurring roles on Will & Grace as Will Truman's father's mistress, and on Desperate Housewives as Susan Mayer's mother. Other television roles have included Lily Lebowski's mother on Crossing Jordan and Kip Stedman's mother in Less than Perfect.

Warren plays the role of Mary Shannon's mother in the USA Network original television series, In Plain Sight.


  • Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1965)
  • The Happiest Millionaire (1967)
  • The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1967)
  • Seven in Darkness (1969) (First ABC-TV "Movie of the Week" to be broadcast)
  • Mission: Impossible (TV) (1970-1971)
  • It's A Bird!... It's a Plane!... It's Superman! (TV) (1975)
  • Columbo: A Deadly State of Mind (TV) (1975)
  • 79 Park Avenue (1977)
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981)
  • Victor Victoria (1982) (Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress)
  • A Night in Heaven (1983)
  • Choose Me (1984)
  • Songwriter (1984)
  • Evergreen (1985)
  • Clue (1985)
  • A Fight for Jenny (1986)
  • Apology (1986)
  • Burglar (1987)
  • Cop (film) (1987)
  • Worth Winning (1989)
  • Family of Spies (1990)
  • Life Stinks (1991)
  • Pure Country (1992)
  • Desperate Justice (AKA A Mother's Revenge) (1993)
  • Color of Night (1994)
  • Joseph (1995)
  • Going All the Way (1997)
  • All of It (1998)
  • The Limey (1999)
  • Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999) (uncredited cameo)
  • Secretary (2002)
  • Deepwater (2006)
  • 10th and Wolf (2006)
  • Constellation (2007)
  • In Plain Sight (2008-present)
  • Bound by a Secret (2009)


  • Youngest actor ever to have attended NY's Actors Studio, when she was 17.
  • Was student at School of American Ballet when she switched to acting.
  • Lives in LA with her companion Ronald Taft, an ad executive.
  • Auditioned for the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music (1965).
  • Tried out for the role of Lois Lane in Superman (1978), but lost to Margot Kidder.
  • Is a vegetarian.
  • She has a son, Christopher Peters, from producer Jon Peters.
  • Her father was a World War II vet and realtor while her mother was a nightclub singer who stopped working when Lesley Ann was born.
  • At age 13, she won a scholarship to study with ballet legend George Balanchine.
  • She once enrolled in an acting class with drama coach Stella Adler.
  • Warren says she won the highly-coveted part of Susan's high-maintenance mom "Sophie" on "Desperate Housewives" (2004) because of her son, Christopher Peters.
  • Was supposed to play the role of Brenda in Goodbye, Columbus (1969), but she got pregnant and had to be replaced. Ali MacGraw then got the part.
  • Was very proud of her work in Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story (1992) (TV), and was disappointed that it got clobbered by an HBO movie on the same story (The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) (TV)) that came out at about the same time, starring Holly Hunter.
  • Started working on her first Broadway show (110 in the Shade) at sixteen and a half years old.
  • When she first auditioned for Cinderella, she was so nervous that the audition tanked. She had to audition a second time, and then was hired.
  • Of all her television experiences, Warren said she had an especially great time on "Will & Grace" (1998) and "Dr. Kildare" (1961), and that her favorite television experience was the making of Cinderella (1965) (TV).
  • Says her favorite genre is the Musical.
  • Starred in an early 1970s busted TV pilot as "Cat Ballou," the role Jane Fonda made famous on film.
  • Walt Disney hand-picked Lesley for the ingénue role in the film The Happiest Millionaire (1967) after her "Cinderella" success. This film was the last live-action movie Disney supervised before his death.
  • Was extremely upset at first about her performance as the gangster's moll in Victor Victoria (1982) prior to its release, having thought she went horribly over the top. She did go over the top and the audiences loved her for it. Lesley was nominated for a "Supporting Actress" Academy Award, her only nod so far.
  • Lesley was to co-star in the beautician comedy series "Snip" (1976), a TV takeoff of the Warren Beatty movie Shampoo (1975) starring David Brenner as a divorced hairdresser. Just before its scheduled September 30, 1976, debut, NBC abruptly canceled the show, so fast in fact that TV Guide did not even have time to remove a special feature on the show in its Fall Preview of September 18-24, 1976. Why? One of the show's supporting characters, a fellow hairdresser named "Michael", was openly gay and NBC got cold feet at the last minute. Had "Snip" (1976) premiered, it would have been a first on American series TV. Instead, Billy Crystal went on to receive that honor with his gay character a year later on the popular series "Soap" (1977). Seven episodes of "Snip" (1976) were completed when it got the ax. The only place the series ended up airing was in Australia, and it became the highest rated show in Australian history up until that time.
  • Played Lois Lane in a television production of the musical Superman (1975) (TV), and later screen tested for the role in Superman (1978).
  • Friend of Marianne Williamson.
  • Was fired after only the second day of filming for Devil You Know (2009) due to reported unreasonable 'diva' demands and tantrums. Similar reports were made back in 1997 when Warren wasn't getting star treatment for her Broadway show: 'Dream: the Johnny Mercer Musical Revue'.
  • Appeared as one of the celebrity models in a charity fashion show staged by Thierry Mugler to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. [April 1992]
  • Was in a relationship with choreographer Jeffrey Hornaday (1980-1987).
  • Was originally offered Jean Seberg's role in Paint Your Wagon (1969).
  • Won the most promising newcomer on Broadway for her work in 110 in the shade in 1963.
  • Suffered from Anorexia nervosa in her teen years and into her twenties.