Teri Hatcher Biography


Born December 8, 1964, in Sunnyvale, CA; daughter of Owen (an electrical engineer) and Esther (a computer programmer) Hatcher; married Marcus Leithold (a fitness trainer), June 4, 1988 (divorced, 1989); married Jon Tenney (an actor), May 27, 1994 (divorced, 2003); children: Emerson Rose. Education: Attended De Anza College, c. 1982-84; took classes at the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, CA.

Addresses: Agent —William Morris Agency, One William Morris Place, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Actress on television, including: The Love Boat, ABC, 1985-86; Capitol, 1986-87; MacGyver, ABC, 1986-90; Karen's Song, 1987; Night Court, 1987; Star Trek: The Next Generation, 1988; L.A. Law, NBC, 1989; Quantum Leap, NBC, 1989; Murphy Brown, CBS, 1990; Tales from the Crypt, HBO, 1990; The Exile, 1991; The Brotherhood (movie), 1991; Sunday Dinner, 1991; Dead in the Water (movie), 1991; Seinfeld, NBC, 1993; Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, ABC, 1993-97; Since You've Been Gone (movie), 1998; Frasier, NBC, 1998; Running Mates (movie), 2000; Jane Doe (movie), 2001; Momentum (movie), 2003; Two and a Half Men, CBS, 2004; Desperate Housewives, ABC, 2004—. Film appearances include: The Big Picture, 1989; Tango & Cash, 1989; Soapdish, 1991; Straight Talk, 1992; The Cool Surface, 1994; Heaven's Prisoners, 1996; Two Days in the Valley, 1996; Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997; Fever, 1999; Spy Kids, 2001; The Chester Story, 2003. Also wrote an episode of Lois & Clark, and starred in the road tour of Cabaret, 1999. Member of the "Gold Rush" cheerleading team for the San Francisco 49ers, 1984.

Teri Hatcher

Awards: Golden Globe award for best performance by an actress in a television series (musical or comedy), Hollywood Foreign Press Association, for Desperate Housewives, 2005.


Television star Teri Hatcher won her first Golden Globe Award in 2005 after nearly 20 years in the business—and just a year after she feared her career was finished forever. Hatcher emerged as a celebrity in the early 1990s when she starred as Lois Lane in ABC's Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, but took some time off to become a mother. When her marriage ended, she found that Hollywood roles for women nearing 40 were harder to come by, and worried about her financial future. That changed when she joined the cast of a new ABC series, Desperate Housewives, which became the most talked-about new show of the fall 2004 primetime line-up. Suddenly, Hatcher was appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the cover of Newsweek alongside her fellow fictional homemakers, but she was still stunned by the show's success, as she admitted in a Harper's Bazaar profile. "In my wildest imagination," Hatcher told writer Merle Ginsberg, "I would have said this could never happen."

Born on December 8, 1964, in Sunnyvale, California, Hatcher grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. Her father was an electrical engineer, and her mother worked for much of Hatcher's childhood as a computer programmer. At Fremont High School, Hatcher captained her cheerleading squad, and as her 1982 graduation date neared, her peers voted her the classmate "most likely to become dancer on Solid Gold, " a popular television show of the era which featured an array of identically-clad dancers grooving to the week's Top-40 hits. But Hatcher had other plans, and began taking math courses at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, with the goal of earning a teaching degree. She also took some acting classes at the prestigious American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and her teaching career was sidetracked when she landed a spot on the 1984 "Gold Rush" cheerleading team for the San Francisco 49ers.

Not long after her National Football League-halftime show appearances had ended with the season, she traveled to Hollywood with a friend in order to provide some moral support during a casting call. Hatcher wound up winning a part herself, as a mermaid dancer on The Love Boat, an ABC primetime staple nearing the end of what had been a hugely successful run. The pay was enormous—$1,000 a week—and after the 1985-86 season finished, Hatcher was able to land a recurring role on another top-rated show, MacGyver, as aspiring actor Penny Parker. She also appeared in guest roles on several other series during the late 1980s, including L.A. Law and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

After her feature-film debut in 1989, The Big Picture, a comedy that cast her alongside Kevin Bacon and Martin Short, Hatcher was cast in the Sylvester Stallone-Kurt Russell cop drama, Tango & Cash, and made a good impression on critics in 1991's Soapdish with Sally Field and Robert Downey Jr. Of all her early roles, however, Hatcher became somewhat legendary for a much-remembered episode of Seinfeld from 1993, in which Jerry's friends chastise him for dating a woman—Hatcher's character—who appears to have undergone breast-augmentation surgery. Hatcher gets the last word, exiting with an infamous last line in which she tells Jerry, "They're real and they're spectacular."

Later that same year, Hatcher won a plum role as Lois Lane in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, an ABC series that paired her with a relatively unknown young actor, Dean Cain. Hatcher's Lane was a newspaper reporter, and the on-screen romance between her and the reluctant superhero anchored the series' plots over the next four seasons and helped make the show a hit. Lois & Clark usually topped the Sunday-night ratings, and critics loved it as well. "Much credit must go to Hatcher and Cain for making the show more than a live-action comic book," noted Entertainment Weekly 's Ken Tucker. "Hatcher is always working against the good looks that have made her an Internet-downloading favorite, in order to convey both Lois' steely ambition and smitten confusion."

The online popularity to which Tucker referred came at the peak of Lois & Clark 's popularity, and just as the number of home Internet users began to surge on a monthly basis. Internet service provider American Online reported that an image of Hatcher clad only in a red "Superman" cape was the most downloaded image on its site for months, logging an average of 250 downloads per day in late 1994. "I hope it's not one guy with a computer and 4,000 pictures of me," Hatcher quipped when told the news, according to Entertainment Weekly. Her image as a sirenish, yet girl-next-door pin-up endured, and she earned another inadvertent publicity coup when she appeared alongside comedian Tom Arnold as a presenter at the 1996 Golden Globe Awards. At the podium, Arnold made an unwise remark intended as a compliment, of sorts, and the comment drew a chorus of boos from the audience. Hatcher reacted graciously, and Arnold later apologized profusely.

Hatcher began to explore darker roles in feature films, playing an Olympic-caliber skier who wants her husband dead in the 1996 project Two Days in the Valley. That film featured a then-unknown Charlize Theron, with whom Hatcher's character engages in a brutal fistfight. Hatcher also portrayed another schemer in Heaven's Prisoners, as the wife of a mob boss played by Eric Roberts; Alec Baldwin also starred in the Louisiana bayou drama. Eager to expand her television career as well, Hatcher wrote an episode of Lois & Clark, but felt it was time for a change, as she told Daily News writer Bob Strauss in mid-1996. "I've found that I'm less invested in what my opinion is of what should happen on the show," Hatcher admitted. "I have no control, and I've learned that. It's been frustrating to feel like I have ideas that might be good, but that don't get anywhere because there are too many people with agendas in television: networks, studios, producers." The series came to a finale where Hatcher's Lois and Cain's Clark Kent walked down the aisle, and closed with the arrival of an infant—perhaps a future "Superman"—into their household.

After Lois & Clark ended, Hatcher took a juicy role in one of the James Bond movies, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies, in which she played Paris Carver, wife of Jonathan Pryce's megalomaniac media tycoon. Paris, true to her unusual name, turned out to be one of a long line of beauties to have dallied with the dashing Bond, in this case played by Pierce Brosnan. After that, Hatcher seemed to vanish from the public eye. Married to a fellow actor, she gave birth to a daughter, Emerson Rose, just weeks before the Bond film premiered, and decided to concentrate on her new role for a time. "To me there's nothing more important than being a mother," she told the Guardian 's Dan Glaister. "I always knew that if and when I had a kid I was going to stay at home."

In early 1999, Hatcher took her infant daughter with her and went on tour in Cabaret, the saucy musical set in 1930s Berlin whose 1972 film version had made Liza Minnelli a star. Hatcher played the vixenish Sally Bowles in Boston for six months, and earned good reviews for what was her stage debut. She found performing before a live theater audience thrilling, she told the Boston Herald 's Alicia Potter. "There's no ego," she reflected. "You feel like all the people in this cast would jump in front of a bus for you, as I would for them. I've never had that experience before working on anything."

Yet Hatcher's career seemed to falter after that. She appeared in the 2001 film Spy Kids, did a couple of television movies, and found herself in a series of commercials for Radio Shack alongside former pro football player Howie Long. The ads were clever and well-received, but they were ads nonetheless. When her nine-year marriage ended in 2003, Hatcher began to panic, realizing that she had scarce other means outside of show business to provide an income for herself and her daughter. Afraid she would lose her house, she recalled one trying moment when she sat on her kitchen floor and just cried. "I was feeling I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgage for much longer—there was a lot of money that I'd had that I didn't have anymore," she told People writer Tom Gliatto. "That was really a low point."

Hatcher turned to writing once again, and even sold a pilot script about a single mom to ABC. But it was a role as another single parent that would become Hatcher's stunning comeback: that of Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, which premiered in the ABC fall line-up of 2004. Hatcher's Susan is a children's book author, divorced, with an unusually wise young daughter. Among the five lead female characters on the show, Hatcher's was one of the admired, not loathed, ones. Her Susan was insecure, klutzy, and tentative about a new romance with her handsome neighbor. Coming out of her own traumatic split, Hatcher quipped in the interview with Harper's Bazaar, that in the realm of romance, "I think it's where Susan and I are most alike," she told Ginsberg. "We're both complete failures with men."

Desperate Housewives —a mix of drama, comedy, and even murder-mystery—was set on the seemingly idyllic Wisteria Lane, where the quintet of women are neighbors as well as friends and sometimes wary adversaries. All the characters exhibit varying degrees of dysfunction—one is a disturbing perfectionist, another overwhelmed by the pressures of being a stay-at-home mom, the third is carrying on an affair with the teenage landscaper, and one seems to be there just to complicate things for the rest. Hatcher's character, meanwhile, was just the nice, albeit insecure, one. The other actors on the show were Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, and Nicollette Sheridan, and nearly all of them had reached, as Hatcher had, a crossroads in their careers. No longer cast as vixens, they were heading over to the "motherly" roles, but Desperate Housewives seemed to tap into the popular zeitgeist by portraying them as both family-focused and on the prowl.

Hatcher, for her part, was thankful to have landed the role. "I know there are people who didn't get my part because they wanted a bigger trailer," she told Detroit Free Press television critic Mike Duffy. "I think, 'Thank God they wanted that bigger trailer.' There are lots of things that fell into place for me to make this happen. I'm not trying to be corny or weird about it. I'm just grateful." Hatcher expressed that gratitude enthusiastically to the world when she won the Best Comedy Show Actress Award at the Golden Globes in early 2005.

Hatcher lives in the San Fernando Valley, and shares joint custody of her daughter with her ex-husband, actor Jon Tenney. With the storylines of Desperate Housewives presenting seemingly infinite possibilities for the hit show's longevity, Hatcher was staying on board as Susan Mayer—but she was pragmatic about the pitfalls of the entertainment industry. "Even if it ends tomorrow and I never get another job, I am ready for it," she asserted in an interview with John Harlow of London's Sunday Times newspaper. "Life can knock me down but this time I will just get up again. I have stuff to do."


Boston Herald, May 4, 1999, p. 43.

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), May 12, 1996, p. L3.

Detroit Free Press, September 15, 2004.

Entertainment Weekly, September 24, 1993, p. 76; December 9, 1994, p. 11; December 8, 1995, p. 53; September 10, 2004, p. 110.

Guardian (London, England), February 14, 2005, p. 6. Harper's Bazaar, February 2005, p. 188.

Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), January 22, 2005, p. 17. InStyle, October 15, 2004, p. 160.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, May 15, 1996.

Newsweek International, January 17, 2005, p. 50.

People, February 14, 2005, p. 70.

Sunday Times (London, England), February 13, 2005, p. 6.

Time, October 11, 1993, p. 82.

—Carol Brennan

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