Brenda Strong

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Brenda Strong
Brenda Strong at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Strong at the PaleyFest 2013 forum for Dallas
Brenda Lee Strong

(1960-03-25) March 25, 1960 (age 62)
Alma mater Arizona State University
Years active1985–present
  • Tom Henri
    (m. 1989;div. 2011)
  • John Farmanesh-Bocca
    (m. 2015)

Brenda Lee Strong (born March 25, 1960) is an American actress. She began her career in television, including guest starring appearances in Twin Peaks , Party of Five , Seinfeld , Scandal , Star Trek: The Next Generation , Blossom and Sports Night . She was a regular cast member in the series Desperate Housewives (2004–2012), Scorch (1992), and The Help (2004).


Strong had supporting roles in a number of films, including Starship Troopers (1997), Black Dog (1998), The Deep End of the Ocean (1999), Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) and The Work and the Glory (2004). She is best known for her role as Mary Alice Young in the ABC television comedy-drama series Desperate Housewives (2004–2012), for which she was nominated for two Emmy Awards. [1] [2] Strong later starred as Ann Ewing in the TNT prime time soap opera Dallas (2012–14).

In 2016, she guest starred as Queen Nia in The 100 , and undertook a recurring role as Lillian Luthor on Supergirl . Strong appeared as a recurring character in the second season of the Netflix Original 13 Reasons Why . In September 2018, Strong was promoted to series regular for its third season. She directed two episodes in season four.

Early life

Strong was born in Portland, Oregon, [3] the daughter of Jean (née Weatherford) and Jack Strong and grew up in Brightwood, graduating in 1978 from Sandy Union High School in Sandy, Oregon. She later moved to Arizona to attend college and graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Music in musical theater. Strong was crowned Miss Arizona in 1980. She is 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) tall. [4]


Early works

Her first break after college was a spot in Billy Crystal's 1984 music video "You Look Marvelous". [4] Her first television appearances came in 1985 with brief stints on St. Elsewhere , MacGyver , and Cheers . She also made guest appearances on Hotel , Star Trek: The Next Generation , Matlock , Murphy Brown , Herman's Head , and Blossom . In 1990, she had a recurring role in the ABC series Twin Peaks . She made her film debut in 1986 comedy film Weekend Warriors before having a supporting part in Spaceballs (1987).

In 1992, Strong starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom Scorch . She spent the following decade playing recurring and guest starring roles in many dramatic and comedic shows. From 1996 to 1998, she appeared as Elaine's nemesis Sue Ellen Mischke, the "bra-less wonder" and "Oh Henry!" candy bar heiress, on several episodes of NBC sitcom Seinfeld . [5] She also had recurring roles on Party of Five , 7th Heaven and Everwood and guest starred on 3rd Rock from the Sun , ER , Picket Fences , Silk Stalkings , Dawson's Creek , Any Day Now , Ally McBeal , CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Nip/Tuck .

From 1998 to 2000, she played Sally Sasser, the nemesis of Felicity Huffman's Dana Whitaker, in the ABC comedy-drama Sports Night . [4] [6] In early 2004, she starred as wealthy Arlene Ridgeway in The WB short-lived sitcom, The Help .

Dana Delany, Teri Hatcher, Strong and Andrea Bowen at the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards Desperate Housewives at 2008 GLAAD Awards.jpg
Dana Delany, Teri Hatcher, Strong and Andrea Bowen at the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards

Strong had roles in a number of films, including My Life , Malice , and The Craft before being cast as Captain Deladier in the 1997 science fiction action film Starship Troopers . Her character died in the original film, but she returned in a different role as Sergeant Dede Rake in the second film, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation . In 1998, she starred opposite Patrick Swayze in the action film Black Dog , playing his wife. [7] The following year, she played Michelle Pfeiffer's character's best friend in the drama film The Deep End of the Ocean . In 2000, she appeared in the horror anthology Terror Tract and, in 2002, had a short part in Red Dragon .

2004–2012: Desperate Housewives

Strong starred, mostly off-screen, on Desperate Housewives , opposite Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher during the show's run from 2004 to 2012. She played the deceased Mary Alice Young, who narrates the events of her friends' and neighbors' lives from beyond the grave. Her narrations yielded an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 2011 and 2012. Along with the cast, she received two Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2006. [4] Strong's character narrated all but two episodes of the series. One of the two exceptions is the season 3 episode narrated by Steven Culp, after his character, Rex Van de Kamp, is killed by George Williams and he observes the lives of the men on the street. The other episode is during season 5 and is narrated by Nicollette Sheridan, in which her character, Edie Britt, dies of a car crash, followed by electrocution.

Strong has appeared several times in flashbacks and in a dream episode in which Lynette struggles to understand why she could not stop Mary Alice's suicide. She played another deceased wife on the television series Everwood , appearing mainly in flashback sequences as the late Julia Brown. Coincidentally, Cross played Dr. Linda Abbott, a love interest for Brown's widower, during the second season of Everwood. Both Strong and Cross appear in season 9 of Seinfeld (episodes 9 and 8 respectively).

In addition to her role on Desperate Housewives, Strong starred as Mary Ann Steed in the movie trilogy The Work and the Glory , based on a bestselling series of the same name by Gerald N. Lund. [8] [9] [10] She starred in the 2006 Lifetime movie Family in Hiding. Also in 2006, she played Ted Danson's love interest in the short-lived ABC comedy series Help Me Help You . She also guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm as a love interest of Larry David, Law & Order: Criminal Intent , Boston Legal , and Rizzoli & Isles .

2012–2014: Dallas

Strong at the 2013 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Brenda Strong - Monte-Carlo Television Festival.jpg
Strong at the 2013 Monte-Carlo Television Festival

During her final year on Desperate Housewives, Strong signed on to play Ann Ewing, the third wife of Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and new matriarch of Southfork Ranch, in the TNT series Dallas , the revival of long-running CBS prime time soap opera of the same name. [11] Strong previously made a guest appearance in the original series in 1987 as Cliff's one night stand. [12] The show premiered on June 13, 2012, [13] and was cancelled after three seasons in 2014. [14] During her Dallas years, she began hosting Investigation Discovery series Blood Relatives and played Joan Reston, the wife of Governor Samuel Reston, in the two episodes of Shonda Rhimes' political series Scandal . [15]


After Dallas, Strong appeared in an episode of NBC comedy procedural The Mysteries of Laura . In 2015, she joined the cast of the third season of The CW post-apocalyptic drama series The 100 , playing the role of Nia, Queen of the Ice Nation. [16] [17] In 2016, Strong had a recurring role on season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead . [18] Later she joined the cast of The CW series Supergirl a recurring role as Lillian Luthor.

In 2018, Strong appeared in the second season of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why . [19] In 2018, Strong was promoted to series regular status for its third season.

Personal life

A certified yoga instructor and fertility expert, [20] Strong has taught at UCLA's Mind/Body Institute.

Strong married Tom Henri in July 1989; they have a child, Zakery Henri. She filed for divorce on January 14, 2011. [21] In May 2015, she married director-actor John Farmanesh-Bocca. [22]

In 2019, the actress won the Best First Time Filmmaker Award at the GI Film Festival San Diego for her directorial debut #3 Normandy Lane. [23]



1986 Weekend Warriors Danielle
1987 Spaceballs Nurse Gretchen
1989 Skin Deep Real Estate AgentUncredited
1993 My Life Laura
1993 Malice Claudia
1996 The Craft Doctor
1997 Starship Troopers Captain Deladier
1998Get a JobEmily LaCrosse
1998 Black Dog Melanie
1998UndercurrentRenee Rivera
1999 The Deep End of the Ocean Ellen
2000 Terror Tract Dr. Helen Corey
2002 Teddy Bears' Picnic Jackie Sloane Chevron
2002 Red Dragon Dinner Guest
2003Missing BrendanJoyce Calden
2003 Exposed Susan Andrews
2004 Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation Sergeant Dede Rake
2004 The Work and the Glory Mary Ann Steed
2005 The Kid & I Bonnie Roman
2007 A Plumm Summer Viv
2008 Ocean of Pearls Mary Stewart
2009 You Paula
2010PrivilegedMrs. Carrington
2012An EngagementMomShort film
2014 Teacher of the Year Ellen Behr
2014I Can See YouMarnieShort film
2015 The Leisure Class Charlotte
2019#3 Normandy LaneDirectorShort film


1985 St. Elsewhere Nadine AuroraEpisode: "The Naked and the Dead"
1985 Misfits of Science Miss SpeedwayEpisode: "Twin Engines"
1985 Shadow Chasers Angela TaylorEpisode: "The Many Lies of Johnathan"
1986 MacGyver LilaEpisode: "The Assassin"
1986 Cheers VickiEpisode: "The Cape Cad"
1986 Sledge Hammer! Miss HotchkinsEpisode: "Miss of the Spiderwoman"
1987 Dallas Cliff's One Night StandEpisode: "Cat and Mouse"
1987 Hotel Hilary SinclairEpisode: "Revelations"
1987 Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues DesireeTelevision film
1988 Star Trek: The Next Generation RashellaEpisode: "When the Bough Breaks"
1989 Midnight Caller KristenEpisode: "No Exit"
1989 Hooperman NunEpisode: "The Nun and I"
1989 Matlock Jan SinclairEpisode: "The Model"
1990 Father Dowling Mysteries Miss Cantrell/O'GradyEpisode: "The Perfect Cover Mystery"
1990People Like UsBrenda PrimroseTelevision film
1991 Anything but Love UnknownEpisode: "My New Best Friend"
1991 Twin Peaks Jones4 episodes
1991–1992 Blossom Diane2 episodes
1991 Murphy Brown JanineEpisode: "Eldin Inmates Life"
1992 Rachel Gunn, R.N. SheilaEpisode: "I Dream of Squidhead"
1992 Scorch Allison KingSeries regular, 6 episodes
1992 Sibs NaomiEpisode: "Warren and the Married Woman"
1992 Down the Shore EileenEpisode: "Turn of the Screw"
1992 Grapevine AllisonEpisode: "The Allison and Ken Story"
1992 Dark Justice Jessica SadlerEpisode: "Happy Mothers Day"
1992–1993 Herman's Head Dr. Holland2 episodes
1992 Stepfather III Lauren SutliffeTelevision film
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Beatrice KaufmanEpisode: "Young Indian Jones and the Scandal of 1920"
1993 The Second Half HeatherEpisode: "Guess Who's Channeling Dinner?"
1993 Picket Fences Sarah EvansEpisode: "Unlawful Entries"
1993 Silk Stalkings Candy GraysonEpisode: "Ladies Night Out"
1994 Island City Dr. Sammy HeldingTelevision pilot (not greenlit)
1994 ER Sally NiemeyerEpisode: "Into that Good Night"
1996 Murphy Brown Tara BakerEpisode: "Casa Nova"
1996 The John Larroquette Show Christine TaylorEpisode: "The Master Class"
1996 Party of Five Kathleen Isley6 episodes
1996–1997 3rd Rock from the Sun Miss Frost2 episodes
1996–1997 Seinfeld Sue Ellen Mischke4 episodes
1997 Roar MeganEpisode: "Traps"
1997 Chicago Sons NinaEpisode: "Infrequent Flyers"
1998–2000 Sports Night Sally Sasser7 episodes
1998 The Closer Susan BendEpisode: "The Rebound"
1999 Odd Man Out Kasey MortonEpisode: "Good Will Hunting"
1999 Any Day Now Jana DurhamEpisode: "It's Not You, It's Me"
1999 Safe Harbor Marilyn ConrayEpisode: "Older Women, Younger Men"
2000 Get Real Olivia ClarkEpisode: "Guilt"
2000 The Michael Richards Show BethEpisode: "Discrimination"
2000–2002 7th Heaven Mrs. Carmen Mackoul8 episodes
2001 Ally McBeal Jerry HillEpisode: "Mr. Bo"
2001 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. Leigh SapienEpisode: "Overload"
2001 Thieves LorettaEpisode: "Liver Let Die"
2001 Gilmore Girls EvaEpisode: "Like Mother, Like Daughter"
2001 Dawson's Creek Kay LiddellEpisode: "High Anxiety"
2002 Bram & Alice TheresaEpisode: "Scribbling Rivalry"
2002 The Court Marsha Palmer4 episodes
2002 Malcolm in the Middle AmeliaEpisode: "Family Reunion"
2002–2005 Everwood Julia Brown5 episodes
2003 A.U.S.A. Judge Kimberly FlynnEpisode: "The Joint Report...A Love Story"
2003 Nip/Tuck Iris2 episodes
2003 The Lyon's Den Rebecca McCandlessEpisode: "Things She Said"
2004 The Help Arlene RidgewaySeries regular, 7 episodes
2004 Going to the Mat Patty NewfieldTelevision film
2004–2012 Desperate Housewives Mary Alice Young Series regular, 179 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2005–2006)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2007–2009)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance (2011–2012)
2005 The Work and the Glory II: American Zion Mary Ann SteedTelevision film
2006Family in HidingCarol PetersonTelevision film
2006 Just Legal Liza LynchEpisode: "The Bar"
2006The Work and the Glory III: A House DividedMary Ann SteedTelevision film
2006–2007 Help Me Help You Linda4 episodes
2007 Curb Your Enthusiasm Dr. FlommEpisode: "The N Word"
2007 Shark Olivia HartnellEpisode: "In Absentia"
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Kathy JarrowEpisode: "Betrayed"
2008 Boston Legal Judge Judy BeaconEpisode: "True Love"
2010 Scoundrels Penny PriestEpisode: "Birds of a Feather Flock Together"
2010 Rizzoli & Isles Mel Gaynor-RandleEpisode: "I Kissed a Girl"
2012–2014 Dallas Ann EwingSeries regular, 40 episodes
2012; 2014 Scandal Joan RestonEpisodes: "All Roads Lead to Fitz", "The Fluffer"
2012–present Blood Relatives Narrator32 episodes
2014 The Mysteries of Laura Margot PrestonEpisode: "The Mystery of the Mobile Murder"
2015 Bones Senator Hayley WintersEpisode: "The Senator in the Street Sweeper"
2015Ice Sculpture ChristmasChef GloriaTelevision film
2016 Chicago P.D. Attorney GreenEpisode: "Now I'm God"
2016; 2019 The 100 Queen Nia4 episodes
2016Love by ChanceHelenTelevision film (Hallmark)
2016 Notorious Maggie ShermanEpisode: "Missing"
2016–2017 Fear the Walking Dead Ilene Stowe4 episodes
2016–2021 Supergirl Lillian Luthor 23 episodes
2018–2020 13 Reasons Why Nora Walker21 episodes; Also director (season 4)
2020 All Rise Jean Ruberstone-FrostEpisode: "My Fair Lockdown"
2023 Unprisoned Nadine Gregory

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