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Mary Megan "Mare" Winningham (born May 16, 1959) is an Americanmarker actress and singer.

Early life

Winningham was born in Phoenixmarker, Arizonamarker, and raised in Northridge, Californiamarker, with three brothers and one sister. Her father was the chairman of the Department of Physical Education at California State University, Northridgemarker (CSUN) and her mother was an English teacher and college counselor at Monroe High School . She credits her first interest in acting to seeing an interview with Kym Karath (who played "Gretl" in The Sound of Music) on Art Linkletter's television show House Party when she was five or six years old.

Winningham attended local primary schools, where her favorite activities included drama and playing the guitar and drums. She took the extended drama option in junior high school and continued to study over her summer vacations at CSUN's Teenage Drama Workshop. It was at this time that she adopted the nickname "Mare". Her mother arranged for her to go to Chatsworth High School, a high school with a renowned drama department. In Grade 12 Winningham starred in a production of The Sound of Music, playing the part of Maria, opposite classmate Kevin Spacey as Captain Von Trapp.


Winningham began her career as a singer-songwriter. In 1976, she got her break singing the Beatles song "Here, There, and Everywhere" on The Gong Show. Though Winningham received no record contracts as result of the appearance, she was signed to an acting contract by Hollywoodmarker agent Meyer Mishkin, and received her Screen Actor's Guild card for doing three lines in an episode of James at 15. That year she was offered a role on Young Pioneers and Young Pioneers Christmas, pilots for the short-lived 1978 drama The Young Pioneers. Though the series ended with just three episodes being broadcast, a number of television projects followed, including parts on Police Woman in 1978 and Starsky and Hutch in 1979. Later that same year, she played the role of teenage outcast Jenny Flowers in the made-for-TV movie of the week called, The Death of Ocean View Park.

In 1980, Winningham starred in "Off the Minnesota Strip" playing a young prostitute. She then won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for her role in the critically acclaimed Amber Waves, a TV movie about a rough farmer (Dennis Weaver) who finds he is dying of cancer. In that year she also broke into film in One Trick Pony, starring Paul Simon. In 1983, Winningham was nominated for a Canadian Genie Award for her work in the futuristic 1981 drama Threshold, and appeared in the 1983 epic miniseries The Thorn Birds. She played actress Rachel Ward's daughter, Justine O'Neil, in the emmy-award winning series even though Rachel was only about 1 1/2 years older than Mare. In 1984 she starred as Helen Keller in Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues.

Winningham achieved greater fame in 1985's St. Elmo's Fire as one of the original "brat pack" alumni. Despite the film's success, she failed to cash in on her teen idol status, and returned to television in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Love Is Never Silent, for which she received an Emmy nomination. Another well-known and well-received performance was her turn starring as a suddenly homeless young mother in the television movie God Bless the Child. Winningham finished the 80s with two Hollywood films, the nuclear disaster drama Miracle Mile (1988), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination in 1989, and the Tom Hanks vehicle Turner & Hooch in 1989. In 1988 Winningham also starred in the Los Angelesmarker stage production of Hurlyburly with Sean Penn and Danny Aiello.

In the early '90s, she returned to film for 1994's all-star Wyatt Earp and the family drama The War, both starring Kevin Costner.

1995 brought Georgia, a thoughtful character study of two sisters (Winningham and Jennifer Jason Leigh), which earned Winningham Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations. Two years later, she starred opposite Gary Sinise in George Wallace, for which she garnered her first Golden Globe Award nomination (as her awards page on attests), and won an Emmy Award.

Since then she made acclaimed appearances on the series ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as appearances in the 2001 television project Sally Hemmings, opposite Sam Neill and the short-lived David E. Kelley series The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire. Also in 2001, she appeared in the made for TV movie Snap Decision with Felicity Huffman. She also appeared in the independent film Dandelion, which was a staple of film festivals worldwide between 2003 and 2004 and had a limited Americanmarker release in October of 2005.

Winningham has also recorded three albums, What Might Be (1992) on the Bay Cities label, and Lonesomers (1998), on the Razor and Tie label, and Refuge Rock Sublime (2007) on the Craig & Co. label. "Lonesomers" is a folksy album dealing with relationship issues, and is available on iTunes. The country/bluegrass/Jewish/folk songs on Refuge Rock Sublime deal mostly with her recent conversion to Judaism, and include the tracks, "What Would David Do," "A Convert Jig" and the Israeli National Anthem,"Hatikva.". She also sings on the soundtrack of Georgia.

In 2006, she landed the role of Susan Grey on the ABC hit drama Grey's Anatomy where she played the stepmother of Dr. Meredith Grey. Her character was suddenly killed off in May 2007.

In 2006, Winningham voiced the audio version of Stephen King's Lisey's Story. In 2007, she voiced Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions.

Personal life

Winningham's first, brief marriage was to the actor A Martinez; they wed in 1981 and were divorced later that year. In 1982 she married [Charles] William Mapel, a television technical advisor; they were divorced in 1996. Their children are: Riley Sam Mapel (1981-2005), Patrick Mapel (born 1983), Jack Walter Mapel (born 1985), Calla Louise Mapel (born 1986), and Hap Atticus Mapel (born 1988). Riley, an aspiring actor, committed suicide on August 14, 2005. Calla, a student at Barnard College, is following in her mother's footsteps as a singer-songwriter. Patrick is an actor with Rushforth, an ensemble company in Los Angeles. Her youngest son, Hap, is one of the leading forces behind the Irie Sounds Sound Source.

Though raised a Roman Catholic, Winningham felt her spiritual life was lacking. In November 2001, on a friend's recommendation, she took a class given by Rabbi Neal Weinberg at the University of Judaismmarker (now the American Jewish Universitymarker) in Los Angeles, Californiamarker. On March 3, 2003 she converted to Judaism, and became a member of two Conservative synagogues, Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, and Temple Knesset Israel in Hollywood, Californiamarker.




Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Emmy Awards
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Amber Waves, 1980
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - George Wallace, 1998


Golden Globe Awards
  • Best Supporting Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie - George Wallace, 1997

Independent Spirit Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Georgia, 1995



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