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Debra Jo Rupp (born February 24, 1951) is an Americanmarker film and television actress, perhaps best known for her role as Kitty Forman on the long-running Fox sitcom, That '70s Show.

Early life

Rupp was born in Glendale, Californiamarker and raised in Boxford, Massachusettsmarker, where she attended Masconomet Regional High Schoolmarker, graduating in 1970.She has two sisters. She went on to attend the University of Rochestermarker, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1974.

Career

1980s

Rupp left her home state of Massachusetts in 1979 to pursue an acting career in New York Citymarker. She frequently performed on stage and appeared in commercials before winning her first television role in 1980 as Sheila, a topless dancer, on the daytime drama All My Children. Earlier in the same year, Rupp played Helen, the wife of a cheating husband, in Sharon Tipsword's one-act comedy Second Verse, which was produced as part of a play festival at New York's Nat Horne Theater. Another notable stage performance was as the young bride Eleanor in the 1985 production of A. R. Gurney's The Middle Ages at the Whole Theater Company, established by Olympia Dukakis in nearby Montclair, NJmarker. She received praise from Walter Goodman in a New York Times review of one of her many off-Broadway performances: as June Yeager, a young wife who feels she is never "loved enough", in the 1986 York Theater Company production of Arthur Laurents' dramatic play The Time of the Cuckoo staged at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York's Upper East Sidemarker neighborhood (Manhattanmarker).

Rupp's list of stage credits includes appearances in Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Cynthia Heimel's A Girl's Guide to Chaos, the Broadway role which significantly propelled her career forward. She originated the role of Cynthia in 1986, a character based on Heimel's observations made during her stints as a columnist for Playboy and the Village Voice. Directed by Wynn Handman and sharing the stage with Rita Jenrette, Rupp's performance as Cynthia was immortalized by legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld and described in a New York Times review as "an appealing mixture of pluck and pathos." In Newsday's review of Chaos, theater critic Allan Wallach called Rupp “a real find.”

In early 1987, Rupp was featured in an article written by Enid Nemy for the "Broadway" section of The New York Times. Entitled New York is beckoning, but first, Los Angeles, the interview revealed how Rupp's success in the theater so soon after her arrival in New York City had scared the young actress enough to take time off from acting for several years. After returning to the stage, Rupp explained, she was often cast as an ingénue -- which she usually found difficult to relate to—but after her portrayal of Cynthia in Chaos, had begun getting calls to audition in Los Angelesmarker for "really crazy neurotic" parts in television pilots, without great results. She went on to say that she was realistic about the unpredictability of an acting career and, since she had promised her mother she would never wait tables when she left for New York, she hadn't given up her part-time work as a bookkeeper and was "learning computers" as something to fall back on.

Rupp continued to devote herself to acting full-time through the 1980s and, like most New York City theater actors, performed in numerous regional stage productions. One such production was Sherry Kramer's Wall of Water in New Haven, Connecticutmarker at the Yale Repertory Theatremarker's Winterfest play festival of 1988. She also guest-starred on numerous television shows, including Kate & Allie, Spenser for Hire, and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. In 1988, Rupp landed her first film role on the big screen as Miss Patterson, Tom Hanks's secretary in Big.

1990s

In 1990, Rupp returned to New York City to perform in a Broadway stage production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Kathleen Turner at the Eugene O'Neill Theatremarker. In it, Rupp portrayed Mae (Sister Woman). Her television work during the early 1990s included recurring roles as Ms. Higgins on the television Davis Rules with Randy Quaid, and as Sister Mary Incarnata on Phenom with Judith Light, as well as guest roles on Blossom, Family Matters, L.A. Law, and ER. Rupp also had a small part as a psychiatric patient in the 1992 feature film Death Becomes Her, and appeared in the television movies A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992) with Meredith Baxter and Stephen Collins, and Ambush in Waco: In the Line of Duty.

Her acting career kept Rupp busy in 1995. Not only did she begin her stint as Jeff Foxworthy's sister-in-law Gayle on The Jeff Foxworthy Show, but the versatile actress also appeared in the three-episode science fiction mini-series The Invaders with Scott Bakula, portrayed Jerry Seinfeld's eccentric booking agent Katie on an episode of Seinfeld (a role she reprised in 1996), and performed on stage as Meg in Broken Bones, a dark drama about spousal abuse by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan, as part of a one-act play festival at Hollywoodmarker's Met Theater.

Subsequent film roles included 1996's Sgt. Bilko as the wife of Colonel Hall (Dan Aykroyd), and again in the following year as the office manager in the cult indie hit, Clockwatchers, which starred Lisa Kudrow, Parker Posey, and Toni Collette.

Rupp also appeared in several episodes of Friends, playing Alice Knight, a home economics teacher who fell in love with and married Phoebe Buffay's (Lisa Kudrow) much younger half-brother, Frank Jr. (Giovanni Ribisi).

In 1998, she began her role as Kitty Forman in the comedy series, That '70s Show, and portrayed Marilyn See, wife of astronaut Elliott See, in Episode #11 of the Emmy Award-winning television mini-series From the Earth to the Moon, produced by Tom Hanks and directed by Sally Field.

2000s

Her distinctive voice was heard as the character of Mrs. Helperman in Disney's animated series Teacher's Pet in 2000, and again for the 2004 movie version. She starred as a stand-up comic with a secret in the highly-acclaimed independent short film The Act, directed by Susan Kraker and Pi Ware, and received praise for her performance. The short film was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and won several awards at film festivals around the world. Also in 2004, Rupp appeared as Brad Hunt's nagging mother in Lucky 13, a full-length independent film starring Lauren Graham. She then returned to All My Children for one episode in December 2005, playing a homeless woman named Victoria.

Rupp has often returned to Massachusetts and New York to appear in regional and off-Broadway stage productions. In 2004, she played Dotty Otley in Michael Frayn's Noises Off at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusettsmarker, and in 2006 Rupp appeared on stage in Pittsfield, Massachusettsmarker as a kooky mother in French playwright Jean Anouilh's comedy Ring Round the Moon at Barrington Stage Company. New York theater-goers saw Rupp return to the off-Broadway stage in June 2007, as Valerie in the Second Stage Theatre production of Marisa Wegrzyn's The Butcher of Baraboo, directed by Judith Ivey. While the play and the direction received lukewarm reviews, Rupp's performance did garner some praise, mostly for having risen above the lackluster material. Two months later, in August, she performed in the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusettsmarker, as Ida Bolton in a revival of Paul Osborn's 1939 play Morning's at Seven. The production received mostly positive reviews.

That '70s Show ended in 2006. Rupp appeared soon after in a more serious television role as the wife of a murdered pharmaceutical CEO, on the crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In the episode, entitled "Infiltrated", Rupp's character desperately attempts to hide her slain husband's past sexual abuses. In early 2007 the feature film Kickin It Old Skool was released, in which Rupp was cast as Jamie Kennedy's mother. In 2008, Rupp appeared as a restaurant owner who helps two homeless men in the comedy-drama-musical, Jackson, written and directed by J. F. Lawton. In the same year, she returned to daytime television in a guest role on As The World Turns.

Massachusetts theater-goers saw Rupp onstage in 2008, playing Olympia in Georges Feydeau's 1907 farce A Flea in Her Ear, at the Williamstown Theatre Festivalmarker in Williamstownmarker, and as Miss Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfieldmarker.

Personal life

Rupp divides her time between Los Angelesmarker and Lee, Massachusettsmarker.

Film Credits



Television Credits



References

  1. AMC Nabs Rupp for Guest Role by Erica Brown (n.d.). All My Children Interviews, published online, Soap Opera Digest.
  2. Stage: 5 of the 'Best' Short Works at the Nat Horne by Michiko Kakutani (1980, March 22). New York Times (1857-Current file), p. 13. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 111144931).
  3. The Middle Ages' at the Whole Theatre by Alvin Klein (1985, April 7). New York Times (1857-Current file), NJ2. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 118834302)
  4. The Time of the Cuckoo Opening Night Cast from Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database.
  5. Stage: Michael Learned in 'Time of the Cuckoo' by Walter Goodman (1986, January 21). New York Times (1857-Current file), C17. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 114506710).
  6. Stage: Cynthia Heimel Comedy, 'Guide to Chaos.' by Stephen Holden (1986, December 14). New York Times (1857-Current file), 108. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 120598284)
  7. A Girl's Guide to Men and Sex in the '80s by Allan Wallach (1986, December 12). Newsday - Long Island, N.Y., pg. 15, Section: WEEKEND. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from Newsday archives.
  8. Broadway: New York is beckoning, but first, Los Angeles. by Enid Nemy (1987, February 20). New York Times (1857-Current file), p. C2. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 114846603).
  9. 4 Comedies on the Bill in Yale Rep Winterfest Series by Alvin Klein (1988, January 24). New York Times (1857-Current file), CN25. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database. (Document ID: 115319740) Rupp is clearly pictured in cast photo accompanying article.
  10. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Cast and Crew from the Internet Broadway Database
  11. Act One '95 Evening B Review by Hoyt Hilsman, for Daily Variety, published in print Wed., Jun. 7, 1995
  12. The Act Official website.
  13. Entertainment Reviews: "Cast, energy propel 'Noises'" by Alicia Blaisdell-Bannon, Staff Writer, Cape Cod Times (2004, July 08)
  14. Review by Frances Benn Hall for NewBerkshire.cm
  15. "The Butcher of Baraboo Opening Night Cast", Lortel Archives at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  16. The Butcher of Baraboo: Theater Review by Matthew Murray for talkinbroadway.com, published online June 11, 2007.
  17. THEATER REVIEW: "That Nice Midwestern Mom, the One Who's Handy With a Knife" by Jason Zinoman, nytimes.com. Published: June 12, 2007
  18. The Butcher of Baraboo review by Mark Blankenship, published online at variety.com, June 12, 2007
  19. The Berkshire Theatre Festival's Summer 2007 Season by Elyse Sommer, Curtain Up Reviews, published August 24, 2007
  20. Review by J. Peter Bergman, published online at berkshirebrightfocus.com, August 5, 2007.
  21. Review: Lovely Senior Moments by James Yeara, Metroland Online, Vol. 30, No. 32, published August 9, 2007 (scroll down the page)
  22. Review from BerkshireReview.net


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