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Martha Plimpton


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Martha Campbell Plimpton (born November 16, 1970) is an American actress and singer. She currently plays the role of Virginia Chance on the Fox sitcom Raising Hope.

Early life

Plimpton was born and raised in New York City, the daughter of actors Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton. Her parents met while performing in the original Broadway run of Hair. Her paternal grandfather was actor John Carradine and she is the niece of Robert and David Carradine. She is a cousin of the late writer and editor George Plimpton, and, despite the different spelling, cartoonist Bill Plympton. She attended the Professional Children's School in Manhattan. Her first stage appearance was when her mother brought her on stage in costume for the curtain call of the short-lived Broadway play The Leaf People.


Plimpton began her career in modeling, securing an early 1980s campaign for Calvin Klein, making an impression as a sophisticated but tomboyish little girl. She made her screen debut in 1981, when at the age of 11 she had a small part in the film Rollover. In 1984 she appeared in the Deep South independent drama The River Rat opposite Tommy Lee Jones. Her breakthrough performance was as Stef Steinbrenner in the 1985 feature film The Goonies. She also appeared that year in a featured role on the television sitcom Family Ties.

This would begin a trend of Plimpton being typecast in the role of a rebellious tomboy for several years, beginning with her critically lauded performance as the Reverend Spellgood (Andre Gregory)'s daughter in the 1986 film The Mosquito Coast, starring Harrison Ford. The critically praised but commercially unsuccessful 1987 film Shy People was followed by a performance in the 1988 ensemble comedy Stars and Bars. This was released shortly before Running on Empty, an Academy Award-nominated film starring River Phoenix, for which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award.

She began what became a career trend, mixing small independent film appearances with supporting roles in big-budget films. She appeared in the 1989 Woody Allen film Another Woman; that year, she co-starred with Jami Gertz as a cancer patient in the German film Zwei Frauen (released in America as Silence Like Glass). The film was nominated for Outstanding Feature Film at the German Film Awards. Plimpton shaved her head bald to play a cancer patient in Zwei Frauen, and her reputation for playing rebellious teenagers secured her the role of the indignant teenage daughter (who shaves her head) of Dianne Wiest in Parenthood. Plimpton appeared alongside Joaquin Phoenix (then credited as Leaf Phoenix), the younger brother of her former boyfriend, River, who portrayed her on-screen brother.

In 1991 Plimpton appeared in the Robert De Niro film Stanley & Iris in a supporting role. In 1992, Plimpton appeared as a lesbian terrorist in the independent film Inside Monkey Zetterland. She played the starring role in the film Samantha.

The success of Samantha garnered Plimpton a variety of roles in 1993. She appeared with Cuba Gooding, Jr., in the television film Daybreak and was a part of the mostly improvised television film Chantilly Lace. She had a featured role in the big-budget films Josh and S.A.M. and played the lead in the critically blasted film adaptation of the Carolyn Chute novel The Beans of Egypt, Maine. Plimpton also appeared that year as herself in the independent film My Life's in Turnaround, a movie about filmmakers trying to make a movie. Plimpton continued to make appearances in featured roles in both independent films and mainstream movies from 1994 through 1997, most notably as a close friend of radical feminist Valerie Solanas in the film I Shot Andy Warhol.

In 1997 the Showtime Network cast Plimpton as the female lead in a television film called The Defenders: Payback. The show was a retooling of the classic television show by the same name, and the characters were descendants of character Lawrence Preston, a role reprised by actor E.G. Marshall. The intent was to spin the program off into a series akin to Law & Order, but Marshall died in 1998. Two additional episodes (The Defenders: Choice of Evils and The Defenders: Taking the First) were aired as specials that year. The decision was made to not continue production (despite high ratings and critical praise) due to Marshall's death.[citation needed]

Plimpton became involved with The Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago where she appeared in Hedda Gabler (2001) among others.[5] In 1998 she appeared in the John Waters film Pecker; the film was lambasted but Plimpton's work was praised. This also occurred with her appearance in the 1999 crafty 200 Cigarettes. In 1999 Plimpton had a recurring role in the television drama ER as Meg Corwyn. In 2001, she co-starred with Jacqueline Bisset in The Sleepy Time Gal, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival.

In 2002, she appeared in the documentary film Searching for Debra Winger and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest appearance on the television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Plimpton was the voice of Miss Crumbles in the 2004 animated film Hair High by Bill Plympton. In 2004, she also guest-starred on an episode of 7th Heaven; she received her first writing credit for a different episode of the show that year entitled "Red Socks". She continues to act in television, film and on stage. She had a recurring role on the NBC show Surface (2005–06).

From October 2006 until May 2007, she was in The Coast of Utopia, a trilogy of plays by Tom Stoppard that played at the Lincoln Center. For her work in this play she won a Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a Tony award. In October 2007 Plimpton completed a starring role in A Midsummer Night's Dream on Broadway in New York City. She then began rehearsals for the play Cymbeline. She co-founded a production company, Everything is Horrible, which has produced a number of short films for the internet.

Plimpton received her second nomination for a Tony Award in 2008, Best Performance by a Featured Actress In a Play, for her work in Top Girls at the Biltmore Theater.

In November 2008, she earned rave reviews as Gladys Bumps in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of the classical Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey on Broadway and garnered her third consecutive Tony nomination, this time for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Plimpton appeared in the 2008 Entertainment Weekly photo issue spread as one of "The Hardest Working Actors In Showbiz." In the spread she appears with Lance Reddick, Celia Weston, John Slattery, Bobby Cannavale, James Rebhorn, Lynn Cohen, Matt Servitto and Bob Balaban. Plimpton says in the write-up about her "I went to jury duty the other day, and somebody said, 'You always play drug addicts!' I've played a few on TV, and I imagine because the shows get replayed, it seems like more. But yeah, people tend to see me as this pregnant teenage heroin addict."

In November 2009, Plimpton signed on as a main cast member on the Fox sitcom Raising Hope. The show premiered on September 21, 2010, receiving strong reviews for both Plimpton and the pilot itself. The New York Times called Raising Hope "the most promising" of "the best new fall shows," and said "Plimpton isn't the only reason 'Raising Hope' could be the best new sitcom of the season, but she is the main reason."

Plimpton performed "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch of Game 3 of the MLB 2010 World Series in Texas on Fox, October 30, 2010.

On December 15, 2010, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre announced that Plimpton will be the guest of honor at their second-annual "Salute to Women in the Arts".

In 2010 starred in Ed Gass-Donnelly's independent, crime, thriller Small Town Murder Songs, and was given the trophy for best actress by the Whistler Film Festival

Other work

Plimpton is friends with singer Lucy Wainwright Roche. In 2008, she performed a duet with Roche on the E.P. 8 More singing the Bruce Springsteen song Hungry Heart. In 2010 she sang another Springsteen song, this time Thunder Road, on the public radio program Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, accompanied by acclaimed whistler Eric Gilliland. She has appeared multiple times as a featured guest on public radio's The Leonard Lopate Show, and performed in a roast of Lopate celebrating the 25th anniversary of his radio program.

Plimpton sits on the board of directors of The Players, a New York City social club founded in 1888 by actor Edwin Booth. In 2009 she was profiled by The New York Times for their "A Night Out With..." series, in which Plimpton hosted an evening of poker at The Players.

In January 2010, she performed a one-woman show called Martha Plimpton Sings? for the Lincoln Center's American Songbook program. The show explored her experiences growing up in 1970s New York City. Her performance, well received by critics, included such songs as "Jolly Coppers on Parade", "Woman Is the Nigger of the World", and The Smiths's "Ask" tied together with humorous monologues.

Plimpton also narrates audiobooks, notably the novels Diary by Chuck Palahniuk and Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh.

Media References

She is referenced in the Lawrence Arms song "Light Breathing (Me and Martha Plimpton in a Fancy Elevator)," a song detailing the singer unexpectedly stepping into an elevator with her and being unable to overcome shyness to ask her out.


1981 Rollover Fewster's Older Daughter

1984 The River Rat Jonsy

1985 The Goonies Stef Steinbrenner Nominated, Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress- Motion Picture, Young Artist Award

1986 A Life in the Day

The Mosquito Coast Emily Spellgood Nominated, Best Young Female Superstar in Motion Pictures, Young Artist Award

1987 Shy People Grace Nominated, Best Supporting Female, Independent Spirit Award

1988 Stars and Bars Bryant

Running on Empty Lorna Phillips Nominated, Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture- Drama Young Artist Award

Another Woman Laura

1989 Zwei Frauen Claudia Jacoby

Parenthood Julie Buckman-Higgins

1990 Stanley and Iris Kelly King

1992 A Blink of Paradise Mother

Inside Monkey Zetterland Sofie

Samantha Samantha

1993 The Perfect Woman

Josh and S.A.M. Alison (The Liberty Maid)

1994 The Beans of Egypt, Maine Earlene Pomerleau

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Jane Grant

1995 The Last Summer in the Hamptons Chloe

1996 I Shot Andy Warhol Stevie

Beautiful Girls Jan

I'm Not Rappaport Laurie Campbell

1997 Colin Fitz Ann

Eye of God Ainsley Dupree

1998 Music from Another Room Karen Swan

Pecker Tina

1999 200 Cigarettes Monica

2001 The Sleepy Time Gal Rebecca

2004 Hair High Miss Crumbles Voice

2006 Marvelous Gwen

2007 Dante's Inferno Celia

2008 Gone to the Dogs Leslie

Puppy Love Leslie

2010 I Thought About You Gloria

Small Town Murder Songs Sam

Remember Me Helen Craig


1985 Family Ties Jessie Black "You've Got a Friend"

1999 ER Meg Corwin "Humpty Dumpty"

"The Peace of Wild Things"

"Truth and Consequences"

"Sins of the Fathers"

2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Claire Rinato "Denial" (Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series)

2003 Karen Sisco Chelsea Wentworth "The One That Got Away"

Hack Louise O'Connor "Black Eye"

2004 7th Heaven Venus "Regret to Inform"

2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Jo Gage "Blind Spot"

Surface Mr. Big/Dr. Morris "Fugitives on the Run"

"Experiment Gone Awry"

2009 The Good Wife Patti Nyholm "Crash"

Medium Rosemary Widdick "Pain Killer"

Grey's Anatomy Pam Michaelson "Good Mourning"


2010 Fringe Sheriff Ann Mathis "Northwest Passage"

How to Make It in America Edie Weitz "Never Say Die"

"Keep on Truck'n"

"Big in Japan"

"Unhappy Birthday"

"Paper, Denim + Dollars"

The Good Wife Patti Nyholm "Heart"

2010–present Raising Hope Virginia Chance Series regular

Plimpton wrote the 2005 7th Heaven episode "Red Socks."



Top Girls Nominated, Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play

The Coast of Utopia Nominated, Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play; Won Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play; Won Outer Critic's Circle for Best Featured Actress in a Play


Pal Joey Nominated, Tony Award, Best Featured Actress in a Musical; Nominated, Drama Desk Award, Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Sixteen Wounded

Shining City

The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

The Libertine

Playboy of the Western World

The Glass Menagerie

Hedda Gabler

Absolution (Director)

Off Broadway

Flesh and Blood

Hurly Burly

Boston Marriage

The False Servant

Hobson's Choice Won Obie Award for Outstanding Performance


Pericles, Prince of Tyre

The Haggadah


Seattle Repertory Theatre

Uncle Vanya

The Heidi Chronicles

The Sisters Rosensweig


Awards and recognition

Plimpton has garnered three consecutive Tony Award nominations: In 2007 for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role in Top Girls, in the same category in 2008 for Coast of Utopia, and for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 2009 for Pal Joey. In 2002 she received an Emmy Award nomination for her performance in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Plimpton won the 2001 Obie Award for Outstanding Performance for Hobson's Choice. She also won the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critic's Circle Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 2008 for her role in Coast of Utopia, and was nominated again for a Drama Desk Award in 2009 for Pal Joey.

In film, Plimpton has been nominated for three Young Artist Awards: Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress for Goonies, Best Young Female Superstar in Motion Pictures for The Mosquito Coast, and Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture for Running on Empty. She was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the Best Supporting Female category for her performance in Shy People.





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