Mary Ellen "Mel" Harris (born July 12, 1956) is an American actress best known for her role as Hope Murdoch Steadman in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething (1987–1991), for which she received a Golden Globe nomination in 1990.
Harris in 2016
Mary Ellen Harris
July 12, 1956
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Harris was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the daughter to Mary Michael "Mike", a high school science teacher, and Warren Harris, football coach at Bethlehem High School and Princeton University. Harris grew up in North Brunswick, New Jersey and graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1974. Before finding success as an actress, Harris had appeared as a contestant on the game show Pyramid on two separate occasions: in 1979 on the ABC-TV daytime version known as The $20,000 Pyramid, and in 1985 on the syndicated version known as The $100,000 Pyramid, both versions hosted by Dick Clark. She later appeared as a celebrity on the third week of The $100,000 Pyramid hosted by John Davidson in 1991, with a clip of her big win in 1985 as shown in a flashback clip.
Harris made her film debut playing a female leading role in the 1987 action film Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Rutger Hauer. She later went to star alongside Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig, Melanie Mayron, Timothy Busfield, Peter Horton and Polly Draper in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething playing the role of Hope Murdoch Steadman. The series received critical acclaim during its run, while Harris was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in 1990. She directed one episode during the final season. The series ended in 1991. During that time, she also starred in the horror film Cameron's Closet (1988) and action comedy K-9 alongside Jim Belushi. In 1989, she played a real-life victim Madge Oberholtzer in the TV miniseries Cross of Fire. In 1989, Harper's Bazaar named her one of "America's 10 Most Beautiful Women".
In 1990s, Harris had many leading roles in the made-for-television films and miniseries, include The Burden of Proof (1992), Ultimate Betrayal (1994) and The Women of Spring Break (1995). She co-starred in the 1992 psychological horror-thriller film Raising Cain, and the following year played the leading role in the thriller film Suture. Her other notable film credits include The Pagemaster (1994), Hangman's Curse (2003), and The Lodger (2009). From 1996 to 1998, she starred with Jere Burns in the NBC sitcom Something So Right. The series was canceled after two seasons.
Harris has appeared in a number of television series in 2000s, including Touched by an Angel, Stargate SG-1, The West Wing, JAG, House and Criminal Minds. In 2007, she was regular cast member in the MyNetworkTV limited-run serial Saints & Sinners. At that time, she began working as writer. She was executive producer and creator of 2012 ABC drama pilot Scruples based on the 1978 novel by Judith Krantz. After six-year hiatus, in 2013 Harris returned to television appearing in the two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2016, Harris starred in the first season of Hulu drama series Shut Eye, and from 2017 to 2018 had a recurring role in the Bravo comedy series Imposters. In 2020, ABC ordered a sequel for Thirtysomething and Harris set to return alongside Olin, Busfield and Wettig.
Harris has been married six times. Her marriages (in chronological order) include: David Silbergeld (1978–79), Brian Kilcommons (1980–82), photographer David Hume Kennerly (1983–88) (with whom she had son Byron in 1984), actor Cotter Smith (1988–96) (with whom she had daughter Madeline in April 1990), investment banker Michael Toomey (2001–06), and current husband screenwriter and producer Bob Brush.
|1987||Wanted: Dead or Alive||Terry|
|1988||Cameron's Closet||Nora Haley|
|1993||Distant Cousins||Katherine June Sullivan|
|1993||Suture||Dr. Renee Descartes|
|1993||Wind Dancer||Susan Allen|
|1994||The Pagemaster||Claire Tyler|
|1999||Sonic Impact||Co-Pilot Jennifer Blake|
|2003||Hangman's Curse||Sarah Springfield|
|2005||The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie||Mel Harris||Cameo appearance|
|2005||Purple Heart||Dr. Harrison|
|2009||Imagine That||Maggie Johnson||Uncredited|
|2020||King of Knives||Kathy|
|1986||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Girlfriend||Episode: "A Very Happy Ending"|
|1986||Heart of the City||Anne||Episode: "Working Without a Net"|
|1986||The Wizard||Jane Whittier||Episode: "Trouble in the Stars"|
|1987||Rags to Riches||Jessica||Episode: "First Love"|
|1989||Cross of Fire||Madge Oberholtzer'||Television film|
|1989||My Brother's Wife||Eleanor Goldberg-Rusher||Television film|
|1987-1991||Thirtysomething||Hope Murdoch Steadman||Series regular, 85 episodes|
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1990)
Nominated — Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series (1990)
|1992||The Burden of Proof||Sonia Klonsky||Miniseries|
|1992||Grass Roots||Kate Rule||Television film|
|1992||Child of Rage||Jill Tyler||Television film|
|1993||With Hostile Intent||Kathy Arnold||Television film|
|1993||Desperate Journey: The Allison Wilcox Story||Allison Wilcox||Television film|
|1994||Ultimate Betrayal||Susan Rodgers||Television film|
|1994||The Spider and the Fly||Dianna Taylor||Television film|
|1994||Broken Lullaby||Jordan Kirkland||Television film|
|1995||The Women of Spring Break||Claire||Television film|
|1995||The Secretary||Ellen Bradford||Television film|
|1995||Sharon's Secret||Laurel O'Connor||Television film|
|1995||Raising Caines||Julie Caine||Series regular, 6 episodes|
|1996||A Case for Life||Liz||Television film|
|1996||The Outer Limits||Dr. Christina Markham||Episode: "Paradise"|
|1996||What Kind of Mother Are You?||Mrs. Laura Hyler||Television film|
|1997||Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest||Sarah||Television film|
|1996-1998||Something So Right||Carly Davis||Series regular, 38 episodes|
|1999||Dawson's Creek||Helen Lindley||Episode: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"|
|2000||Out of Time||Annie Epson||Television film|
|2000||Madigan Men||Dr. Ivy Castelli||Episode: "Love and Dermatology"|
|2001||Touched by an Angel||Kelly Rockhill||Episode: "The Lord Moves in Mysterious Ways"|
|2001||The Retrievers||Karen Lowry||Television film|
|2002||Strong Medicine||Biddy Hightower||Episode: "Recovery Time"|
|2002||Another Pretty Face||Diana Downs||Television film|
|2004||North Shore||Mrs. Jensen||Episode: "Illusions"|
|2002-2005||Stargate SG-1||Oma Desala||3 episodes|
|2005||The West Wing||Ricky Rafferty||Episode: "Drought Conditions"|
|2005||Jake in Progress||Tally Hughes||Episode: "Ubusy?"|
|2005||JAG||Dora Cresswell||Episodes: "Straits of Malacca" and "Death at the Mosque"|
|2005||Out of the Woods||Beth Fleming||Television film|
|2006||E-Ring||U.S.Ambassador to Spain||Episode: "The General"|
|2006||Cold Case||Grace Anderson||Episode: "Superstar"|
|2006||House||Barbara Bardach||Episode: "Safe"|
|2006||CSI: NY||Julie Rollins||Episode: "And Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael"|
|2006||Criminal Minds||Congressman Steyer||Episode: "Sex, Birth, Death"|
|2007||Close to Home||Beth Murphy||Episode: "Maternal Instinct"|
|2007||Cane||Constance Hughes||Episode: "Open and Shut"|
|2007||Saints & Sinners||Sylvia Capshaw||Series regular, 61 episodes|
|2013-2014||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Eileen Switzer||Episodes: "Rapist Anonymous" and "Amaro's One-Eighty"|
|2015||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Shawna||Episode: "My Mom, Greg's Mom and Josh's Sweet Dance Moves!"|
|2016||Shut Eye||Nadine Davies||9 episodes|
|2017-2018||Imposters||Margaret Jonson||5 episodes|
- "Mel Harris Biography (1957-)". www.filmreference.com.
- Gold, Todd. "Yuppie Babies, Beaus and Tales of Woe on Thirtysomething Plunk a Responsive Chord for Mel Harris", People (magazine), October 26, 1987. Accessed January 30, 2013. "She learned that the hard way. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., and raised in North Brunswick, N.J., Harris says that her parents' home was loveless long before their divorce in 1969."
- The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book.
- Brennan, Patricia (January 20, 1991). "HE'S GAME FOR THE NEW '$100,000 PYRAMID'" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- "Mel Harris". www.goldenglobes.com.
- "'Thirtysomething' Actress Mel Harris Files For Divorce | Access Online". Access.
- "Suture (1993)" – via www.rottentomatoes.com.
- "'Scruples' adapted by ABC as possible drama". EW.com.
- Andreeva, Nellie (January 31, 2012). "'Scruples' Adaptation From Tony Krantz & Natalie Portman Ordered To Pilot At ABC".
- Andreeva, Nellie (January 8, 2020). "'Thirtysomething': ABC Picks Up Sequel Series Pilot With Original Cast From Marshall Herskovitz & Ed Zwick".
- "Thirtysomething's Mel Harris on Owning Her 6 Marriages: 'Clearly I Believe in It Because I've Kept Trying'". PEOPLE.com.
- appearance on Oprah Where Are They Now