Kate Walsh Biography

Actress (1967–)
Kate Walsh is an American actress known for her roles on 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Private Practice' and Netflix's '13 Reasons Why.'

Who Is Kate Walsh?

Born in 1967, Kate Walsh is an American actress who's performed in front of both the small and big screens. However, her biggest successes have been on television, thanks to her high-profile role as Dr. Addison Montgomery on Shonda Rhimes' Grey's Anatomy and later the spinoff, Private Practice. After experiencing a health scare in 2015 (she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor), Walsh went on to star in the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why to critical acclaim.

Kate Walsh Photo

Kate Walsh attends the 'Get Hard' Los Angeles premiere held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on March 25, 2015 in Hollywood, California.


Walsh was married to film and TV producer Alex Young from 2007 to 2010. 

Movies and TV Shows

In 1996 Walsh made her film debut in the American crime drama Normal Life and later that year, the horror flick Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Part II. In 1997 she nabbed her first major small-screen role on The Drew Carey Show as Carey's girlfriend, Nicki Fifer, who dealt with extreme weight issues.

'Grey's Anatomy'

But it was 2005 that Walsh had her star turn playing Dr. Addison Montgomery, the estranged and rather unlikeable wife of Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey), on ABC's Grey's Anatomy.

"Everyone hated me, but at that time there was no Twitter," she told Buzzfeed about playing her Grey's character. "There were chat rooms, but I never really went on them. I kind of liked being the Wicked Witch from the east. Or the wicked b*tch."

That same year she also starred in the sports comedy Kicking & Screaming, opposite Will Ferrell, as well as Bewitched with Nicole Kidman.

'Private Practice'

In 2007 the success of Walsh's character, Dr. Addison Montgomery, led to the ABC spinoff Private Practice, which lasted six seasons and co-starred Amy Brenneman and Taye Diggs. Throughout her time on the series, Walsh also made occasional reappearances on Grey's Anatomy as a guest actor. After Private Practice wrapped up, Walsh tried her hand at comedy over at NBC with Bad Judge, but her new project was short-lived and ended just after one season.

Although keeping busy on the small screen, Walsh continued working on film projects, starring in the supernatural thriller Legion (2010) with Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid, and the coming-of-age film adaptation The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012).

'13 Reasons Why'

After playing more ancillary roles for shows on FX and Hulu, in 2017 Walsh not only starred in the box office hit, Girls Trip, but also signed on with Netflix to star in the drama 13 Reasons Why. In the show, she plays Olivia Baker, a grieving mother whose child, Hannah (Katherine Langford), commits suicide. 

When asked about her best memory of working on the show, Walsh told Buzzfeed: "Every scene I got to shoot with Katherine was a favorite memory, because she’s so adorable and beautiful — I mean, all the kids on the show are so wonderful," she said. "I don’t have kids (I've been a stepmom, which I loved) so it was a really beautiful opportunity to be a mother." 

Brain Tumor Diagnosis

In 2017 Walsh revealed she had been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 2015 and had it immediately removed. 

“It was over five cm, like a small lemon in my head, causing quite a bit of damage: there was a lot of swelling, and I had started getting shooting pains in my head,” she told Cosmopolitan in an interview. “The whole situation was so overwhelming, and I was just so relieved to know there was something wrong, that it wasn’t just my imagination and that my instincts were correct."

She also added: “You’d think that after playing Dr. Addison [Montgomery on Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice] for the better part of a decade, where I spent more time on a hospital set than at my house, that I would feel somehow more comfortable, but I was such a little scaredy-cat. In the hospital, I felt like I might as well be six years old,” Walsh admitted.

Upon doctor's orders, Walsh took time off to recover —  nine months, in fact — and says she's in a much better place, both mentally and physically. 

“I feel honestly better than I’ve ever felt, I love my life, I feel so healthy and strong and probably in better shape than I ever was,” Walsh told People. “I feel very lucky and blessed that I’m healthy.”

Early Life

Kate Walsh was born on October 13, 1967 in San Jose, California, but grew up in Tucson, Arizona. After graduating from high school, Walsh attended the University of Arizona as an acting major and further developed her skills at the Piven Theatre Workshop in Chicago. She moved to New York City to pursue her career, becoming a member of a comedy troupe.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!