Jane Kaczmarek Biography

Theater Actress, Actress, Television Actress (1955–)
Actress Jane Kaczmarek is best known for playing the strict, yet unpredictable, Lois Wilkerson on the popular television sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.


Jane Kaczmarek was born on December 21, 1955, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the early 1980s, she was on The Paper Chase: Second Year and Hill Street Blues. She appeared on Equal Justice from 1990–1991. By the mid-1990s, she had appeared on Law & Order, Picket Fences, Touched by an Angel, Cybill, Party of Five and Felicity. From 2000–2006, she played Lois Wilkerson on Malcolm in the Middle.

Early Life

Actress Jane Kaczmarek was born on December 21, 1955, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jane Kaczmarek had television viewers laughing for six years as Lois Wilkerson, one of prime time’s loudest, toughest and most humorous mothers, on the family comedy Malcolm in the Middle. The daughter of a defense department employee and a teacher, she grew up in a strict, Catholic household. Studying at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Kaczmarek graduated with a degree in drama in 1979.

Jane Kaczmarek continued her education at the prestigious graduate drama program at Yale University. After finishing the program in 1982, she spent some time on the stage before breaking in television. Reflecting her serious acting training, Kaczmarek landed several roles on dramatic series, such as the Showtime cable network’s The Paper Chase: Second Year in 1983 and the NBC ensemble police drama Hill Street Blues in 1984. She also appeared on the short-lived legal drama Equal Justice as Linda Bauer, a lawyer in a district attorney’s office, from 1990-'91.

'Malcolm in the Middle'

By the mid-1990s, Jane Kaczmarek had made a number of guest appearances on such shows as Law & Order, Picket Fences and Touched by an Angel. Her career continued to pick up momentum with recurring roles on the comedy Cybill starring Cybill Shepherd, the family drama Party of Five, and the college life saga Felicity. In 2000, Kaczmarek became a star with her leading role as strict, yet unpredictable Lois Wilkerson on Malcolm in the Middle.

The show explored the plight of a bright child named Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) being raised in the middle of a chaotic, dysfunctional family, including his three other brothers-the troublesome teenager Frances (Christopher Kennedy Masterson), the dim, slightly sociopathic Reese (Justin Berfield), the brilliant Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), and the babyish Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan). With little help from her loving, but spacey husband Hal, played by Bryan Cranston, Lois ruled the roost and made sure that the boys didn’t get away with anything, no matter how hard they tried.

Later in the series, Lois had a fifth child, which only added to the madness with the Wilkersons. With her great comedic turn as Lois, Jane Kaczmarek was nominated for an Emmy Award seven times for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. After Malcolm in the Middle ended in 2006, Jane Kaczmarek appeared on another sitcom that year, the short-lived Help Me Help You with Ted Danson.

Personal Life

Besides acting, Jane Kaczmarek is committed to helping others. In 2002, she founded The Clothes Off Our Back Foundation with her husband, actor Bradley Whitford. The organization auctions off celebrity-related apparel to raise money for children’s charities. Kaczmarek and Whitford have been married since the early 1990s and have three children-Frances, George and Mary Louisa.

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