Diane Venora

Last updated

Diane Venora
Born (1952-08-10) August 10, 1952 (age 68)
Education Boston Conservatory
Juilliard School (BFA)
Years active1979–present
(m. 1980;div. 1989)
Awards New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, 1989

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


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 life

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 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 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 TV series Thunder Alley , followed by a recurring role as plastic surgeon Geri Infante in the 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] Other performances include Juliet's mother in Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Jackal (1997), The 13th Warrior (1999), and The Insider (1999). She was most recently seen in the 2010 film All Good Things .

Personal life

Venora was married to cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak in 1980; the couple divorced in 1989. The 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 City, teaching disadvantaged children and acting in an occasional play. In 1994, Venora and her daughter moved to Los Angeles. [3]

Stage credits

1981Penguin TouquetOther (Same) Woman
Miss Julie
1982 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta
Hamlet [7] Prince Hamlet
1983 Uncle Vanya Yelyna
1984 Peer Gynt Green Woman
1985Tomorrow's MondayDora Allen
1986 Largo Desolato Lucy
A Man for All Seasons Lady Margaret More
The School for Scandal Lady Teazle
1989 The Winter's Tale Hermione
1990 Hamlet Ophelia
1998Tongue of a BirdMother
1999-2000 Hamlet Gertrude
2000 The Seagull As director
Macbeth Lady Macbeth
2001 Celebration
The Room
2001-02Necessary TargetsZlata
2002God of VengeanceSara
2003The Burning Deck
2012 As You Like It Jaques
2016110 Stories



1979 All That Jazz ExtraUncredited
1980Getting ThereMelanieShort film
1981 Wolfen Rebecca Neff
1984 The Cotton Club Gloria Swanson
1985Terminal ChoiceAnna Lang
1986 F/X Ellen Keith
1987 Ironweed Margaret 'Peg' Phelan
1988 Bird Chan Parker New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actress
Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress– Motion Picture
Nominated- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1995 Three Wishes Joyce
Heat Justine HannaNominated- Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996 The Substitute Jane Hetzko
Surviving Picasso Jacqueline Roque
Romeo + Juliet Gloria Capulet
1997Seed: A Love StoryJuliaShort film
The Jackal Maj. Valentina Koslova
1999 True Crime Barbara Everett
The 13th Warrior Queen Weilew
The Joyriders Celeste
The Young Girl and the Monsoon Giovanna
The Insider Liane Wigand
2000 Hamlet Gertrude
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 Copper Wing Award for Best Acting Ensemble
TouchedCarole Davis
2008 Stiletto Sylvia Vadalos
Childless Mary
2009 Follow the Prophet Red
Little Hercules in 3-DHera
The Ministers Gina Santana
2010 All Good Things Janice Rizzo


1981 Nurse Ellen BrillEpisode: "Rivals"
1982A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta TV movie
1983Cook & Peary: The Race to the PoleMarie Fidele Hunt
1985 A.D. CorinnaTV movie
1990 Great Performances Ophelia Episode: "Hamlet"
1993 Law & Order Mara FederEpisode: "Night & Fog"
1994 Thunder Alley Bobbi TurnerRecurring role
1994–95 Chicago Hope Dr. Geri InfanteRecurring role
1996Special Report: Journey to MarsLt. Tanya SadavoyTV movie
2000Race Against TimeDr. Helen Steele
The Practice Margaret WakefieldEpisode: "Appeal and Denial"
2004Class ActionsJustine HarrisonTV movie
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Marilyn NesbitEpisode: "Home"
2005 Threshold Andrea Hatten / Angela Hatten4 episodes
C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia Joy Gresham TV movie
2006 Criminal Minds DorisEpisode: "The Fisher King: Part 1"
2007 Medium Sarah Jane LevittEpisode: "Very Merry Maggie"
2008 Eleventh Hour Lea MullerEpisode: "Resurrection"
2009 Private Practice SharonEpisode: "Second Chances"
NCIS Shada ShakarjiEpisode: "Outlaws and In-Laws"
2010 Grey's Anatomy Audrey TaylorEpisode: "Push"
The Wish ListBrendaTV movie
2016The VictoriansMary Rutherford

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  1. "Diane Venora Biography (1952-)". FilmReference.com.
  2. "Venora. Robert P. Venora, Sr". Hartford Courant. February 23, 1997.
  3. 1 2 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. 1 2 Diane Venora- Biography
  7. Rich, Frank (December 3, 1982). "Theater: Diane Venora Stars in Papp's 'Hamlet'". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved October 25, 2019.