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Diane Venora (born August 10, 1952) is an American stage, television and film actress.

Diane Venora
Born (1952-08-10) August 10, 1952 (age 67)
EducationBoston Conservatory
Juilliard School (BFA)
Years active1981–present
Andrzej Bartkowiak
(m. 1980; div. 1989)

Venora graduated from the Juilliard School in 1977 and made her film debut in 1981 opposite Albert Finney in Wolfen. She won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1988 film Bird directed by Clint Eastwood. Her other films include The Cotton Club (1984), Heat (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Jackal (1997), The Insider (1999) and Hamlet (2000).


Early lifeEdit

Venora was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, one of six children of Marie (née Brooks) and Robert P. Venora, who owned a dry cleaning establishment.[1][2] Diane graduated from East Hartford High School (class of 1970), during which she was active in musicals and plays. She studied at Boston Conservatory of Music and two years later won a scholarship to Juilliard School in New York City, where she graduated in 1977.[3] At Juilliard she was a member of the Drama Department's Group 6 (1973–1977),[4] which also included Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Sansom Harris, and Robin Williams.[5]


After graduation, Venora performed extensively on the stage, particularly in Shakespearean plays.[6] She made her film debut alongside Albert Finney and Gregory Hines in Wolfen (1981). In 1983, she starred in Joseph Papp's production of Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the lead role, the first woman to play the role at the prestigious showcase. She has a long history with Hamlet, having played the title role, having played Ophelia opposite Kevin Kline, and having played Gertrude onscreen opposite Ethan Hawke.

In 1988, her critically acclaimed performance in Clint Eastwood's biographical feature of jazz great Charlie Parker, Bird, as Chan Parker, his wife, earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination and the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

In 1994, after taking five years off to care for her daughter, Venora landed a starring role in the ABC TV series Thunder Alley (playing Ed Asner's character's daughter), followed by a recurring role as plastic surgeon Geri Infante in the Emmy-winning TV series Chicago Hope.

In 1995, she starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat, earning high regard from both critics and audiences for her portrayal of Justine Hanna, the Pacino character's troubled wife.[6] That performance and her follow-up as Juliet's mother, Gloria Capulet, in Romeo + Juliet (1996) earned her supporting roles in The Jackal (1997), The 13th Warrior (1999), and The Insider (1999). She was most recently seen in the 2010 film All Good Things.

Personal lifeEdit

Venora was married to cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak in 1980; the couple divorced in 1989. That same year, she took some time out from show business to spend more time with her daughter Madzia, then eight years old. During her hiatus, Venora lived in New York, teaching disadvantaged children and acting in an occasional play. In 1994, Venora and her daughter moved to Los Angeles.[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Wolfen Rebecca Neff
1984 The Cotton Club Gloria Swanson
1985 Terminal Choice Anna Lang
1986 F/X Ellen Keith
1987 Ironweed Margaret 'Peg' Phelan
1988 Bird Chan Parker New York Film Critics Circle, Best Actress
Sant Jordi Awards, Best Foreign Actress
1995 Three Wishes Joyce
1995 Heat Justine Hanna
1996 The Substitute Jane Hetzko
1996 Surviving Picasso Jacqueline
1996 Romeo + Juliet Gloria Capulet
1997 Seed: A Love Story Julia Short
1997 The Jackal Major Valentina Koslova
1999 True Crime Barbara Everett
1999 The 13th Warrior Queen Weilow
1999 The Joyriders Celeste
1999 The Young Girl and the Monsoon Giovanna
1999 The Insider Liane Wigand
2000 Hamlet Gertrude
2000 Looking for an Echo Joanne Delgado
2001 Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 Gabriella Francini
2002 Heartbreak Hospital Sunday Tyler / Andrea Harmon
2004 Stateside Mrs. Hengen
2005 Self Medicated Louise Eriksen Phoenix Film Festival, Best Ensemble
2005 Touched Carole Davis
2008 Stiletto Sylvia Vadalos
2008 Childless Mary
2009 Follow the Prophet Red
2009 Little Hercules in 3-D Hera
2009 The Ministers Gina Santana
2010 All Good Things Janice Rizzo


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Getting There Melanie TV short
1981 Nurse Ellen Brill "Rivals"
1982 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta TV film
1983 Cook & Peary: The Race to the Pole Marie Fidele Hunt TV film
1985 A.D. Corinna TV miniseries
1990 Great Performances Ophelia "Hamlet"
1993 Law & Order Mara Feder "Night & Fog"
1994 Thunder Alley Bobbi Turner Recurring role
1994–95 Chicago Hope Dr. Geri Infante Recurring role
1996 Special Report: Journey to Mars Lt. Tanya Sadavoy TV film
2000 Race Against Time Dr. Helen Steele TV film
2000 The Practice Margaret Wakefield "Appeal and Denial"
2004 Class Actions Justine Harrison TV film
2004 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Marilyn Nesbit "Home"
2005 Threshold Andrea Hatten / Angela Hatten "Trees Made of Glass: Parts 1 & 2", "Shock", "The Order"
2005 C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia Joy Gresham TV film documentary
2006 Criminal Minds Doris "The Fisher King: Part 1"
2007 Medium Sarah Jane Levitt "Very Merry Maggie"
2008 Eleventh Hour Lea Muller "Resurrection"
2009 Private Practice Sharon "Second Chances"
2009 NCIS Shada Shakarji "Outlaws and In-Laws"
2010 Grey's Anatomy Audrey Taylor "Push"
2010 The Wish List Brenda TV film
2016 The Victorians Mary Rutherford TV film


  1. ^ "Diane Venora Biography (1952-)".
  2. ^ "Venora. Robert P. Venora, Sr". Hartford Courant. February 23, 1997.
  3. ^ a b Lang, Steven (December 8, 1997). "Second Act: Having Once Left Acting to Care for Her Daughter, Diane Venora Takes a Run at Stardom in The Jackal". People.
  4. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. November 2007. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  5. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Diane Venora- Biography

External linksEdit