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Linda Purl (born September 2, 1955) is an American actress and singer, known for her roles as Sheila Munroe in the 1982 horror film Visiting Hours, and Ben Matlock's daughter Charlene Matlock for the first season of the television series Matlock.
Linda Purl in 2010
September 2, 1955|
Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
|Alma mater||Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute|
Purl was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, into a theatrical family, her mother, Marshelline "Marshie" (Patton), being a Broadway actress, her father, Raymond Charles Arthur Purl, an actor, and her grandmother, Beatrice Saville, a founder of the Actors' Equity Association. At age five, she moved to Japan, where she spent her childhood, becoming the only foreigner to train at the Toho Geino Academy. While at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, Purl performed in several plays, gaining the role of Louis in The King and I, Bet in Oliver!, and Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. Furthermore, she was discovered by Toho and appeared in several films.
At age 15, Purl returned to the United States. She attended high school at Wykeham Rise School, a private boarding school for girls, specializing in creative and performing arts, in Washington, Connecticut. While still in High School at Wykeham Rise, she had a role on the soap opera The Guiding Light. After attending Finch College, Ms. Purl went to England to study under Marguerite Beale, before returning to the United States to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, and later with Robert Lewis.
After playing a small role in Jory (1973), Purl's first major movie role was in Jonathan Demme's 1975 comedy, Crazy Mama. Subsequent movie appearances have included W.C. Fields and Me (1976), Young Pioneers' Christmas (1976), Leo and Loree (1980), Visiting Hours (1982), The High Country (1984), Viper (1988), Natural Causes (1994), Mighty Joe Young (1998), The Perfect Tenant (2000), and Fear of the Dark (2003).
Linda Purl has played several roles on television series, starting with The Secret Storm— a daytime "soap opera" drama (1973–1974). In 1978, she appeared as newlywed Molly Beaton in the ABC western drama series, The Young Pioneers, set in the Dakota Territory of the 1870s and based on the novels of Rose Wilder Lane. She also acted alongside Shaun Cassidy in the 1979 TV movie Like Normal People. On Happy Days she played two different roles: Richie's occasional girlfriend Gloria in season two of the show (1974), and Fonzie's steady girlfriend Ashley eight seasons later (1982–1983). She also played secret agent Kate Del'Amico in the short-lived series Under Cover, and played Brett Robin in the 1994-1995 series Robin's Hoods.
She has also featured in many movies made for television, including Testimony of Two Men, The Night the City Screamed, Little Ladies of the Night, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs. She voiced Delilah in a 1985 direct-to-video episode of The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible.
Purl appeared in an all-star cast in the well-regarded historical-biographical TV mini-series of Eleanor and Franklin in 1976, broadcast on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network. Here she portrayed Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt.
As a guest star, Purl has appeared in a 1974 episode of the long-running Hawaiian-locale Hawaii Five-O called "The Hostage", as teenage babysitter "Ruth" held captive by a deranged veteran. She played two different roles on The Waltons; early in its run, in 1974 where she played sophisticate Alica in the season three episode, "The Spoilers", and in the season five episode, "The Heartbreaker" (1977), where she played Mary Ellen's sister-in-law (and Jason's love interest) Vanessa, and sang a couple songs in this episode. In 1981 she starred in Manions of America. In 1984 she played Nydia, the blind flower girl in the mini-series "The Last Days of Pompeii". In 1985, she appeared in a Murder, She Wrote episode entitled "Murder at the Oasis", in 1988 she again made an appearance on Murder, She Wrote in the episode "Mourning Among The Wisterias", and in 1993 appeared for a third time on the series in "Dead Eye". In the first season of Matlock (1986–1987), (starring long-time comedy actor Andy Griffith, now in a usually-dramatic role), Purl played Charlene, Ben Matlock's lawyer daughter. She was cast in the series First Monday (2002) as Sarah Novelli, a real estate agent and Justice Joseph Novelli's wife.
After an absence from the "little screen" for almost three decades, Purl appeared in the role of Pam Beesly's mother on NBC's The Office TV series, starting with the season six episode "Niagara" in 2009-2010. Purl appeared in several more episodes throughout the series and was a romantic interest for Steve Carell's character. In May 2010, Purl made a guest appearance on Desperate Housewives. In 2011, Purl made guest appearances on Showtime's Homeland, playing Elizabeth Gaines. She played Barbara Pelt, mother of Debbie Pelt, in two episodes of HBO's True Blood in 2012. In 2017 Purl appeared in one episode of Designated Survivor. She played an old college supervisor of President Kirkman who assists in appointing nominees to the Supreme Court in the episode, "The Ninth Seat".
Purl has been a regular performer (and part of the original cast) of the international touring play Seven Deadly Sins Four Deadly Sinners. In November 2007, she appeared at the Théâtre Princesse Grace, Monte Carlo, directed by Marc Sinden, as part of his British Theatre Season, Monaco.
Purl launched a jazz music career after leaving Matlock and has released several albums of music, most recently Out of This World – LIVE.
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Purl has been married four times, all of which ended in divorce. Her first marriage was in 1980 to Desi Arnaz, Jr., son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz; the couple divorced a year later in 1981. From 1988 to 1992, she was married to screenwriter William Broyles Jr.. In 1993, she married screenwriter and producer Alexander Cary, Master of Falkland, with whom she has a son, Lucius (b. 1995). She and Cary divorced in 1999. Lastly, she was married to James Vinson Adams from 2006 to 2011.
|1970||Aru heishe no kake||Rose Allen|
|1980||Leo and Loree||Loree|
|1981||The High Country||Kathy|
|1982||Visiting Hours||Sheila Munroe|
|1994||Natural Causes||Jessie MacCarthy|
|1998||Mighty Joe Young||Dr. Ruth Young|
|2000||The Perfect Tenant||Jessica Michaels|
|2003||Fear of the Dark||Sandy Billings|
|20??||The Swing of Things||Sherry Fairfax-Rothstein||Filming|
|1973–74||The Secret Storm||Doreen Post||TV series|
|1974||Lucas Tanner||Diane||"Thirteen Going on Twenty"|
|1974||Sons and Daughters||Julie Ashley||"The Pregnancy"|
|1974||Happy Days||Gloria||Guest role (season 2)|
|1974||The Waltons||Alicia Hanover||"The Spoilers"|
|1975||Hawaii Five-O||Ruth||"The Hostage"|
|1975||Medical Center||Leslie||"Street Girl"|
|1975||Beacon Hill||Betsy Bullock||Main role|
|1975||Medical Story||Kim||"Us Against the World"|
|1976||The Oregon Trail||Deborah Randal||"Pilot"|
|1976||Young Pioneers||Molly Beaton||TV film|
|1976||State Fair||Bobbie Jean Shaw||TV film|
|1976||Julie Farr, M.D.||Laura Gorman||TV film|
|1976||Young Pioneers' Christmas||Molly Beaton||TV film|
|1976||Eleanor and Franklin||Alice Roosevelt (age 14-20)||"1.1", "1.2"|
|1977||Little Ladies of the Night||Hailey Atkins||TV film|
|1977||The Waltons||Vanessa||"The Heartbreaker"|
|1977||Testimony of Two Men||Mavis Eaton||TV miniseries|
|1977||Black Market Baby||Anne Macarino||TV film|
|1978||The Young Pioneers||Molly Beaton||TV miniseries|
|1979||A Last Cry for Help||Sharon Muir||TV film|
|1979||Women at West Point||Jennifer Scott||TV film|
|1979||Like Normal People||Virginia Rae Hensler||TV film|
|1979||The Flame Is Love||Emmaline Nevada 'Vada' Holtz||TV film|
|1980||The Night the City Screamed||Brenda Farrell||TV film|
|1981||The Adventures of Nellie Bly||Nellie Bly||TV film|
|1981||The Manion's of America||Deirdre O'Manion||TV miniseries|
|1982||Money on the Side||Annie Gilson||TV film|
|1982–83||Happy Days||Ashley Pfister||Main role (season 10)|
|1984||The Last Days of Pompeii||Nydia||TV miniseries|
|1985||The Love Boat||Anne Lester||2 episodes|
|1985||Midas Valley||Sarah Corey||TV film|
|1985||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Lisa Tate||"Revenge"|
|1985||The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible||Delilah||"Samson and Delilah"|
|1985||Murder, She Wrote||Terry Shannon||"Murder at the Oasis"|
|1986||Outrage!||Arlene Robbins||TV film|
|1986||Pleasures||Eve Harper||TV film|
|1986||Dark Mansions||Shellane Victor||TV film|
|1986–87||Matlock||Charlene Matlock||Main role (season 1)|
|1987||In Self Defense||Susan Andrews||TV film|
|1987||CBS Summer Playhouse||Judith||"Day to Day"|
|1988||Addicted to His Love||Cassie Robbins||TV film|
|1988||Murder, She Wrote||Crystal Wendle||"Mourning Among the Wisterias"|
|1988||Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs||Beverly||TV film|
|1989||Trying Times||Laura||"The Sad Professor"|
|1990||Timeless Tales from Hallmark||Rapunzel (voice)||"Rapunzel"|
|1990||Web of Deceit||Lauren Hale||TV film|
|1991||Under Cover||Kate Del'Amico||Main role|
|1992||Secrets||Jane Adams||TV film|
|1992||Jack's Place||Nicolette||"I See Cupid, I See France"|
|1993||Murder, She Wrote||Laura Callan||"Dead Eye"|
|1993||The Hidden Room||Kate Richards||"Her Life as a Dog"|
|1994||Accidental Meeting||Maryanne Bellmann||TV film|
|1994||Burke's Law||Kelly Harris||"Who Killed the Legal Eagle?"|
|1994||Incident at Deception Ridge||Helen Davis||TV film|
|1994–95||Robin's Hoods||Brett Robin||Main role|
|1996||Born Free: A New Adventure||Eleanor Porter||TV film|
|1997||Crisis Center||Lynn Maxfield||"It's a Family Affair"|
|1997||The Absolute Truth||Jean Douglas||TV film|
|1998||Walker, Texas Ranger||Barbara Conway||"Crusader"|
|1998||Touched by an Angel||Sally||"Flights of Angels"|
|1999||Holy Joe||Joan Wolrod||TV film|
|2000||Port Charles||Claire Wright||Guest role|
|2002||First Monday||Sarah Novelli||Main role|
|2003||Frozen Impact||Dr. Christy Blanchard||TV film|
|2004||Stranger at the Door||Kathleen Norris||TV film|
|2005||Cold Case||Diane Moore||"Schadenfreude"|
|2005||Criminal Intent||Kirsten Sorensen||TV film|
|2006||Maid of Honor||Laci Collins||TV film|
|2009||Bones||Mrs. Diana Annenburg||"The Doctor in the Den"|
|2009–2011||The Office||Helene Beesly||Recurring role (seasons 6–7)|
|2010||Desperate Housewives||Lillian Allen||"A Little Night Music"|
|2010||Criminal Minds||Colleen Everson||"Our Darkest Hour"|
|2010||Lie to Me||Meredith Spencer||"In the Red"|
|2011||Homeland||Elizabeth Gaines||"Semper I", "Achilles Heel", "Marine One"|
|2012||True Blood||Barbara Pelt||"Whatever I Am, You Made Me", "We'll Meet Again"|
|2012||Stalked at 17||Lauren||TV film|
|2014||Major Crimes||Doris||"Flight Risk"|
|2014||Reckless||Barbara Fortnum||"Blind Sides", "Deep Waters", "51%", "And So It Begins"|
|2017||Designated Survivor||Julia Rombauer||"The Ninth Seat"|
|2018||The Oath||Gwenn Hammond||Recurring role|
|2018||Code Black||Madeline Mandel||"Change of Heart"|
- "Linda Purl Biography (1955-)". www.filmreference.com.
- "Introducing Linda Purl (Doreen Post on The Secret Storm)", Daytime TV, November 1973
- "Raymond Charles Arthur Purl's Obituary on The Gazette". The Gazette.
- Ausiello. "'Office' exclusive: Meet Pam's mom!". EW.com. Archived from the original on 2009-09-04.
- "You can all relax, Brody is back and taking centre stage in Homeland".