Valerie Mahaffey
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Valerie Mahaffey
Valerie Mahaffey
CFC In LA 2012 3.jpg
Valerie Mahaffey in March 2012
Born (1953-06-16) June 16, 1953 (age 67)
Years active1976-present
Joseph Kell

Valerie Mahaffey (born June 16, 1953)[1] is an American character actress and producer.[1] She began her career starring in the NBC daytime soap opera The Doctors (1979-81), for which in 1980 she was nominated for an Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

In 1992, Mahaffey won Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in the CBS drama series Northern Exposure. She later won fame through her portrayal of extroverted and friendly but ultimately insane women on the television shows Wings, Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids. Mahaffey also appeared in a number of movies, including Senior Trip (1995), Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), Jack and Jill (2011), Sully (2016), and most notable French Exit (2020), for which she received critical acclaim.

Early life

Mahaffey was born in Sumatra, Indonesia,[1] to a Canadian mother and a Texan father who met in New Brunswick, Canada.[2] When Mahaffey was 16, the family moved to Houston, Texas, where she graduated from Austin High School. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975[2][3] and later made her Broadway debut in musical Rex.[1]


Mahaffey was regular cast member in the soap opera The Doctors from 1979 to 1981, which earned her a nomination for Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1980.[4] She starred in the film Women of Valor in 1986 and while the characters are fictitious, it portrayed women's roles in the Philippines during World War II.

Valerie Mahaffey at the Governor's Ball after the 1992 Emmy Awards

As of the late 1980s, Mahaffey began acting in television comedies, like Newhart, Cheers, and Seinfeld. From 1992 to 1993, she starred in the short-lived NBC sitcom The Powers That Be and in the CBS sitcom Women of the House alongside Delta Burke in 1995. She played Tracy Milford in the 1995 film National Lampoon's Senior Trip and Jan Kempster in the 1997 film Jungle 2 Jungle. In 1999, she had a recurring role on ER. In 2003, she co-starred in the film Seabiscuit. In 2009, she appeared in seven episodes of Showtime comedy series United States of Tara. Her stage credits include Eastern Standard, Talking Heads, Top Girls, and Rex.

Mahaffey won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as the chronic hypochondriac Eve in the CBS series Northern Exposure in 1992.[5] Mahaffey was the only actor from the series to win an Emmy Award.[6]

Mahaffey played Alma Hodge in season 3 of ABC comedy-drama series Desperate Housewives from 2006 to 2007. Mahaffey made guest appearances on Quantum Leap, L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, Judging Amy, The West Wing, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Frasier, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Private Practice, Boston Legal, Without a Trace, and Raising Hope.[7] She appeared on Glee as the mother of Emma Pillsbury from 2011 to 2013.[8] Mahaffey co-starred as Fran Horowitz in short-lived TNT medical drama Monday Mornings in 2013.[9] From 2013 to 2015, she had a recurring role on Lifetime Television comedy-drama series Devious Maids as Olivia Rice.[10]

In 2016, Mahaffey played supporting role as Diane Higgins in the biographical drama film Sully directed by Clint Eastwood. In 2017, she began appearing in a recurring role in the CBS comedy series Young Sheldon. From 2019 to 2020, Mahaffey had a recurring role as Lorna Harding, Christina Applegate' mother-in-law in the Netflix comedy-drama series Dead to Me.[11][12]

In 2020, Mahaffey starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in the comedy-drama film French Exit playing widow Madame Reynaud. Mahaffey received positive reviews from critics for her scene-stealing comedic performance in film.[13][14][15] She has been listed as a contender for a nomination in the 2021 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress category.[16][17] Later in 2020, Mahaffey was cast in a series regular role in the ABC crime drama series Big Sky.[18]


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Tell Me My Name Alexandra/Sarah Television film
1979-1981 The Doctors Ashley Bennett Nominated - Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1980)
1984 Tales of the Unexpected Jane Episode: "The Open Window"
1986 Mr. Bill's Real Life Adventures Mrs. Bill
1986 The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket Alice
1986 Fresno Tiffany Kensington TV mini-series
1986 Women of Valor Lt. Katherine R. Grace Television film
1987 Newhart Jolene Episode: "Love Letters in the Mud"
1987 Jack and Mike Colleen Episode: "Till Death Do Us Part"
1987 Her Secret Life Becky
1989 Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical Murder D.A. Barbara August Television film
1989 Perry Mason: The Case of the All-Star Assassin D.A. Barbara August Television film
1990 An Enemy of the People Mrs. Stockman Television film
1990 Father Dowling Mysteries Justine Hemmings Episode: "The Solid Gold Headache Mystery"
1990 Quantum Leap Mary Greely Episode: "The Boogieman - October 31, 1964"
1991 Cheers Valerie Hill Episode: "Achilles Hill"
1991 The Young Riders Lottie Episode: "The Talisman"
1991 Baby Talk Tammy Morrison Episode: "One Night with Elliot"
1991 Seinfeld Patrice Episode: "The Truth"
1992 Till Death Us Do Part Gail Bugliosi
1992 Dream On Helen Harley Episode: "Up All Night"
1992-1993 The Powers That Be Caitlyn Van Horne 21 episodes
1993 They Chris Samuels Television film
1991-1994 Northern Exposure Eve 5 episodes

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1992)

1994 L.A. Law Andrea Rossoff Episode: "Cold Cuts"
1994 Witch Hunt Trudy Television film
1995 Women of the House Jennifer Malone 6 episodes
1996 Senior Trip Miss Tracy Milford
1993-1996 Wings Sandy Cooper 3 episodes
1995-1996 The Client Ellie Foltrigg 4 episodes
1996 Caroline in the City Alicia Crawford-Lane Episode: "Caroline and the Therapist"
1997 Jungle 2 Jungle Jan Kempster
1997 George & Leo Martha Episode: "The Thanksgiving Show"
1999 Dinner at Fred's Susan
1999 ER Joi Abbott 4 episodes
2000 Love & Money Gloria Barrell Episode: "Guess Who's Paying for Dinner"
2000 Ally McBeal Dr. Sally Muggins Episode: "I Will Survive"
2001 That's My Bush! Janet Rove Episode: "Trapped in a Small Environment"
2001 Night Visions Sally Osgoode Episode: "Neighborhood Watch"
2001 After Amy Virginia Hytner Television film
2001 Judging Amy Ms. Morlock Episode: "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Family"
2001 The West Wing Tawny Cryer, Appropriations Committee Episode: "Gone Quiet"
2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Brook Thornburg Episode: "Justice"
2002 Par 6 Pecan Hegelman
2003 Seabiscuit Annie Howard
2003 Frasier Peggy Episode: "Maris Returns"
2004 Without a Trace Bonnie Toland Episode: "Shadows"
2005 Out of Practice Barb Episode: "...and I'll Cry If I Want to"
2006 Crumbs Carolyn Pierce Episode: "Friends in High Places"
2006 My First Wedding Grace
2006 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dora Pomerantz Episode: "Happenstance"
2006-2007, 2012 Desperate Housewives Alma Hodge 9 episodes
2007 Raines Arlene Episode: "Pilot"
2007 Private Practice Marilyn Sullivan Episode: "In Which Charlotte Goes Down the Rabbit Hole"
2008 Boston Legal Mary Winston Episode: "Mad About You"
2008 A Previous Engagement Grace
2009 United States of Tara Dr. Ocean 7 episodes
2010 Summer Eleven Linda
2010 Better with You Ariel Episode: "Better with Road Joel"
2010 Hannah Montana Ms. Jameson Episode: "I'll Always Remember You"
2010 Raising Hope Margine Episode: "Meet the Grandparents"
2011 Jack and Jill Bitsy Simmons
2012 If I Were You Lydia
2012 Crazy Eyes Mo
2012 The Exes Anne Episode: "He's Gotta Have It"
2011-2013 Glee Rose Pillsbury 3 episodes
2013 Monday Mornings Fran Horowitz 6 episodes
2013, 2015 Devious Maids Olivia Rice 8 episodes
2013 Grey's Anatomy Donna Kaufman Episode: "Somebody That I Used to Know"
2014 Kirstie Victoria Episode: "The Dinner Party"
2014 Hart of Dixie Mae 3 episodes
2015 Workaholics Celeste Episode: "Blood Drive"
2015 Impastor Susie Kerry Episode: "Honor Thy Boyfriend's Father and Mother"
2015 No Pay, Nudity Lisa
2016 Sully Diane Higgins
2016 The Mindy Project Juliet Episode: "So You Think You Can Finance"
2017 The Man in the High Castle Susan Recurring role, 3 episodes
2017-present Young Sheldon Ms. MacElroy Recurring role
2018 The Witch Files Claire's mom
2019-present Dead to Me Lorna Harding Recurring role, 6 episodes
2020 Big Sky Helen Pergman
2020 French Exit Madame Reynaud


  1. ^ a b c d "Valerie Mahaffey". Internet Broadway Database (The Broadway League). Archived from the original on August 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ a b Robertson, Nan (April 1, 1983). "Tigers or 'Top Girls,' Valerie Mahaffey Adapts". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "Hollywood Horns". The Alcalde. University of Texas. 88 (4): 38. March-April 2000.
  4. ^ "1980 Emmy Winners & Nominees". Soap Opera Digest. New York City: American Media, Inc. Archived from the original on August 18, 2004. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ "VALERIE MAHAFFEY". Television Academy.
  6. ^ "Awards for "Northern Exposure" (1990)". Archived from the original on 2017-03-28. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Valerie Mahaffey Credits". November 28, 2012. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ Glee Exclusive: Meet Emma's Parents Archived 2013-08-30 at WebCite, TV Guide
  9. ^ Geoff Berkshire (February 4, 2013). "'Monday Mornings' review: David E. Kelley and Sanjay Gupta's medical drama off to a shaky start". Zap2It. Archived from the original on August 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  10. ^ Masaki, Lyle (July 5, 2013). "TV Marathons Jump the Shark and Does "Bunheads" Still have a Chance?". Archived from the original on August 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ Shaffer, Claire (April 24, 2020). "A Murder Is Hidden, Hijinks Ensue in 'Dead to Me' Season 2 Trailer".
  12. ^ O'Brien, Tom (June 22, 2020). "Emmy spotlight: Can 'Dead To Me' bring Valerie Mahaffey back to the winner's circle?".
  13. ^ Ewing, Jeff. "NYFF 2020: 'French Exit' Is An Excellent Absurd Romp With Memorable Performances". Forbes.
  14. ^ Han, Karen (October 10, 2020). "French Exit doesn't quite know what to do with its talking cat". Polygon.
  15. ^ Hammond, Pete (October 11, 2020). "Michelle Pfeiffer Delivers Oscar-Worthy Performance In Dazzling New York Film Fest Closing-Night Film 'French Exit' - Review, Analysis & Interview".
  16. ^ Davis, Clayton (October 15, 2020). "Oscars Predictions: Best Supporting Actress - Yuh-Jung Youn Set to Take on Overdue Veteran Glenn Close".
  17. ^ "Review: Michelle Pfeiffer Joins the Oscar Race for Best Actress in "French Exit," With Star Turns from Valerie Mahaffey and a Black Cat | News Break". News Break New York, NY.
  18. ^ Petski, Denise (August 6, 2020). "'Big Sky': Valerie Mahaffey Joins David E. Kelley's PI Drama Series For ABC".

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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