Meredith Baxter Biography

Actress (1947–)
Star of the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, Meredith Baxter has appeared in several films and television shows throughout her lifetime.


Born on 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 succuss as a television actress, appearing in the 1970s series Bridget Loves Bernie and continuing her success as the mother in the hit series Family Ties (1982). After the series ended in 1989, she starred in a string of edgy films in the '90s.

Early Career

Actress Meredith Ann Baxter was born on June 21, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. Meredith was the only daughter born to aspiring actress Whitney Blake and radio announcer Tom Baxter. At age 5, after her parents divorced, 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 Baxter. 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.

Small Screen Success

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 Kate and Doug Lawrence (portrayed by Sada Thompson and James Broderick) and a single mother and law student earned her respect from her peers, as well as two Emmy nominations.

'Family Ties'

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. In 2006, she appeared as a temporary co-host on the Today show with regular host Matt Lauer. The next year, she made a guest appearance on the ABC drama What About Brian and on the TV series Cold Case. In 2009, she starred in the made-for-tv movie, Bound By a Secret.

Ventures Outside of Acting

In addition to her work as an actress, Baxter works as an entrepreneur. She launched her own line of beauty and skin products, called Meredith Baxter Simple Works, which helps raise funds for her breast cancer research foundation.

In 1989, Baxter divorced her second husband, David Birney, with whom she had three children. She later married screenwriter Michael Blodgett, and then filed for her third divorce in 2000.

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