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Diana Muldaur (1938)

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  Summary  

Diana Muldaur is an Emmy-nominated American film and television actress.

  Biography  

 career
Born in New York City, but raised on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Muldaur started acting in high school and continued on through college, graduating from Sweet Briar College in Virginia in 1960. She studied acting under Stella Adler and made her name on the New York stage. She was at one point a board member of the Screen Actors Guild and was the first woman to serve as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (1983–1985).

Muldaur's television roles include L.A. Law's Rosalind Shays, and Dr. Katherine Pulaski in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She also appeared in the Original Star Trek as Science Officer Dr. Ann Mulhall in "Return to Tomorrow" and as Dr. Miranda Jones in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?". She provided the voice of Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Batman: The Animated Series. She starred in movies such as The Other, One More Train to Rob, McQ and The Lawyer.

Muldaur worked with future co-star Richard Dysart at New York's Circle in the Square in the mid-1960s. She guest starred on the Gunsmoke episode, "Fandango" , with James Arness. An excerpt of that episode's dialogue was sampled on the Pink Floyd album The Wall, after "Hey You" and before the brief song "Is there anybody out there?"

In 1979, she starred on the made-for-television film version on NBC of The Miracle Worker in which she played the role of Katie Keller, the mother of the Helen Keller in which she played opposite Melissa Gilbert, Charles Siebert, and Patty Duke Astin.

Muldaur was a guest star in the episodes "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" of Gene Roddenberry's original Star Trek. She also had a recurring role on the McCloud television series, and she played the part of conservationist Joy Adamson in the short-lived television drama Born Free about Elsa the Lioness. In 1968 she appeared as a friendly alien in The Invaders episode "The Peacemaker". In the second season of the television series Kung Fu in 1973, opposite David Carradine, she guest-starred in the episode titled "The Elixir" playing a travelling show-woman who yearned for freedom from men — topical at the time — and starred in the pilot episode of Charlie's Angels. She also appeared on The Tony Randall Show and guest-starred on The Incredible Hulk, playing the part of Helen Banner, David Banner's sister, in the third season episode, "Homecoming". She played a nun in the fifth season episode "Sanctuary". She played Dr. Alice Foley in the television drama A Year in the Life with Sarah Jessica Parker and praised the show as an example of how television was becoming more realistic about women.

In 1991, she played Lauren Geoffries, the main guest-star client of Perry Mason and lifelong friend of Della Reese in the NBC television movie Perry Mason and the Case of the Fatal Fashion. Valerie Harper, Scott Baio and Ally Walker also appeared.

 Star Trek: The Next Generation
Muldaur was noted for playing "dignified, sophisticated characters". Consequently, for the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, producers chose her to replace Gates McFadden, who had played the role of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Crusher in the first season; unlike Dr. Crusher, Dr. Pulaski does not share a romantic interest with Captain Picard . "We needed someone with a little more of an edge", Rick Berman explained of the choice. "Kate's a strong, confident woman with a crusty edge who can hold her own with Captain Picard. Their relationship is not all that unlike the one between Kirk and McCoy ... although from the onset we had no intention of trying to duplicate the original team."

Muldaur said after her casting:
Muldaur had experience working alongside DeForest Kelley, who played Dr. McCoy, when she guest-starred in the original Star Trek series, playing Dr. Ann Mulhall in the episode "Return to Tomorrow."

Of Pulaski's willingness to stand up to the captain, Muldaur said:


Some television critics praised Muldaur's performance, with one noting her "wry, no-nonsense warmth that plays nicely off of some of the icier regulars". The addition of Muldaur, along with Whoopi Goldberg, also served to redress the absence of women from the principal cast, as the departure of McFadden and Denise Crosby had left only Marina Sirtis, a rapid attrition of women that recalled the imbalance of the original Star Trek series.

Ultimately, however, Muldaur found working on the syndicated show an "unhappy" experience, saying, "The imagination and joy wasn't there." "Everybody was out for themselves. I don't think they were happy to have me there." "It wasn't what I hoped it would be. I thought it would be wonderfully inventive and wonderfully creative, and I found it was not any of those things. But it did give me Trekkies. I love Trekkies. I find them very dear."

The "crusty" character also proved very unpopular with fans, who among other things found her treatment of the lovable android Data to be mean spirited. Muldaur left the series after only one season. Show representatives denied that she had been fired, saying, "Technically, she's just not returning", while other sources said that her option had not been renewed. Roddenberry described Muldaur as "a most talented actress", and said that the decision "to let her go was made solely because the hoped-for chemistry between her and the rest of the starship cast did not develop." Berman added, "The thought of bringing Gates back was a good idea to us. The feeling was that we had perhaps made a mistake, and the best way to remedy it was to bring her back." The "revolving door" and the limited opportunities for female crew led critics to suggest that the mostly-male series still had a problem featuring women.

 L.A. Law
Muldaur subsequently earned two Emmy nominations for her role as pushy and power-hungry lawyer Rosalind Shays on L.A. Law. Of Roz's creation, Muldaur said:


In one episode Jill Eikenberry's character Ann Kelsey tells Shays: "If you were a man, you'd be applauded for your achievements." Muldaur insisted her character "was just too strong for a lot of men".

Muldaur described the L.A. Law actors as "the closest family", and said she was "thrilled" to play a villain like Shays after portraying "everybody's mistress for 20 years", and expressed fascination with the public reception for Shays:


The scene where Roz and Leland are discovered in bed was ranked as the 38th greatest moment in television in an issue of EGG magazine. Equally spectacular was Roz's fatal exit from the show, falling down an elevator shaft. Muldaur joked: "I was as shocked as everybody else. I thought maybe I had asked for too much money!"

After L.A. Law, Muldaur retired from show business. At one point she contemplated a face-lift, noting in 2000 at the age of 61, "You don't see many people my age on television", but eventually decided against it, remarking, "Somebody has to look the right age." Her stated ambition is "to play all the great women's roles... I'd love to play Lady Macbeth."

 Murder, She Wrote
Diana Muldaur was a guest star on Murder, She Wrote

 personal life
Muldaur is a 1960 graduate of Sweet Briar College, a small private women's school in central Virginia. Muldaur is the older sister of singer/songwriter Geoff Muldaur and the aunt of singer/songwriter Jenni Muldaur and singer/songwriter Clare Muldaur-Manchon. She lived in Los Angeles from 1970 to 1991.

Muldaur was married to actor James Vickery until his death from cancer in 1979. Muldaur has been married to writer-producer Robert Dozier since 1981. The couple divided their time between Los Angeles and Bear Valley, California, in the High Sierra, north of Yosemite, until Muldaur retired in 1991, after Dozier was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent radiation and beat back a recurrence in 1997. Since 1991 the couple has lived in Martha's Vineyard. Muldaur admitted, "I totally stopped acting and started living." They spend their spare time renovating, golfing, and skiing.
She has no children.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Diana Muldaur", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.