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Star of the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, Meredith Baxter has appeared in several films and television shows throughout her lifetime.
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Born June 21, 1947, in Los Angeles, California, actress Meredith Baxter was the step-daughter of Hollywood producer Jack Fields. Fields helped Baxter enter films with supporting roles in movies such as All the Presidents Men. Baxter had better succ
Actress. Born June 21, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. Meredith was the only daughter born to aspiring actress Whitney Blake and radio announcer Tom Baxter. After her parents divorced, when she was five, her mother wed Hollywood producer Jack Fields. The effect of her parents' breakup, coupled with her mother's hasty remarriage, took quite a toll on Meredith. On the other hand, Whitney Blake benefited from her union with Fields, who played an important role in furthering her acting career.
Baxter attended Hollywood High School, where she found her niche in the highly esteemed drama department. Bit by the acting bug, she went on to train at Michigan's Interlochen Arts Academy. While developing her acting skills, she met Bob Bush, to whom she was married from 1966-69. After their divorce, Baxter became a 22-year-old struggling actress and a single mother of two. She turned to her well-connected stepfather. With the help of Fields, she began her professional career with supporting roles in the critically panned horror film Ben (1976), and in the political thriller All the President's Men (1976), which starred Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.
During the 1970s, Baxter found more lucrative work on the small screen. In 1972, she and actor David Birney (whom she married in 1974 and whose name she used until their divorce in 1989) starred as the title characters in the CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. The series failed to find a wide audience and was cancelled after one season. As the decade progressed, Baxter made a name for herself in the role of Nancy Lawrence Maitland on the dramatic series Family (1976-80). Her performance as the eldest daughter of a single mother earned her respect from her peers, as well as two Emmy nominations.
She also had enormous success when producer Gary David Goldberg handpicked her to play hippie mom Elyse Keaton on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982-89), which introduced her to a whole new generation of viewers. Baxter and actor Michael Gross were cast as the liberal parents of conservative children (played by relative newcomers, Michael J. Fox, Justine Bateman and Tina Yothers).
After the series' acclaimed seven-year run, Baxter returned to television movies in an attempt to land more serious roles. She shattered her wholesome image with dramatic turns as a psychotic kidnapper in The Kissing Place (1990), as a murderer in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992), and as a member of the Donner Party in One More Mountain (1994). For the remainder of the 1990s, Baxter settled into a routine of dozens of TV appearances.
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In the 1980s, TV moms began juggling family life with professional careers. Phylicia Rashad played lawyer and mom to a big family on The Cosby Show, and Candace Bergen portrayed a TV news anchor who has an unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock. Judith Light played a busy, single advertising executive on Who's the Boss, and even hired a male housekeeper—who happened to be a single dad. Joanna Kerns played the much-loved mom on Growing Pains, whose husband worked from home so she could go back to working as a reporter. This bending of gender roles reflected more modern family structures, and the new choices that women faced.
TV Moms: 1980s 11 people in this group
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