Joanna Cassidy is an award winning actress and is currently co-starring in the critically acclaimed HBO series SIX FEET UNDER playing ‘Margaret Chenowith’, the provocative psychiatrist and mother of troubled ‘Brenda’ (Rachel Griffeth) and ‘Billy’ (Jeremy Sisto).
With an abundance of talent and an easy, intoxicating laugh, Joanna has been making strong impressions in the worlds of film and television. Few have accomplished what this tall, gorgeous, Scottish Irish lady has in both mediums. And few have been challenged with the diversity of roles. For a woman who envisioned a career in science or art, she has certainly adjusted to the twists of fate that have come so naturally for her.
Joanna has successfully made the transition from film to television and back to films with uncommon ease, she's a woman who defies categorization. Her credits speak of a multi-dimensional conviction. The roles Joanna has played have taken her around the globe, to the next century and into some very peculiar situations!
Born in Camden, New Jersey and raised in Haddonfield, Joanna grew up in an artistic environment, her mother and grandfather being artists. At an early age she was encouraged to develop her talents at painting and sculpture, which she continues today. Joanna was an art major at Syracuse University in New York. While in college, Joanna married a doctor in residency, whom she helped finish his schooling by modeling. They moved to San Francisco where her husband set up a psychiatric practice, where Joanna's modeling career thrived. Giving little or no thought to acting while married, "I was not open to acting. I never saw it as an option. I had no one to influence me." After her marriage ended, in a brave and bold move, and much to the surprise of herself ad her family, Joanna decided to take a chance and move to Los Angeles.
Now in Los Angeles, and somewhat naive to how the industry actually worked, Joanna brazenly phoned famed casting director Joyce Selznick directly to audition for a role in "The Last American Hero", a part that had in fact already been cast. Joyce, impressed with Joanna's confidence, courage and star quality, helped her get her first film role in "The Laughing Policeman".
In between modeling and commercial work, Joanna's film career was off and running. She soon starred in THE OUTFIT, and the comedic role in THE BANK SHOT. "I thought I had a good shot at comedy, but I got lost playing heavies". Joanna went on to film the feature film THE LATE SHOW, and then crossed over to television. Further adding to her already impressive list of credentials, Joanna began guest-starring roles that included DALLAS, TRAPPER JOHN M.D., TAXI, THE DEVLON CONNECTION, as a psycho-transvestite in STARKEY & HUTCH, and a recurring role on FALCON CREST. After the obligatory guest roles flooded in, so did the series offers. Joanna has appeared in two series, 240-ROBERT and ROLLER GIRLS.
In 1983, with Dabney Coleman, in the 1983 NBC series, BUFFALO BILL, Joanna got another shot at comedy. "I loved BUFFALO BILL, the shows were terrific!" Critics called the program brilliant, a rare view into the often overpowering fatuousness and insincerity that sometimes dominates the television industry. As 'JoJo White', Joanna received a Golden Globe for her realistic portrayal of a woman who holds her own.
Her fluidity is well represented by her continuing success as a film actress. "It used to be such a stigma, making that transition to various entertainment medias. There are a couple of actresses who have cut it quite well and I consider myself one. You have to work, you have to have your craft. Every job you do, you gain more experience. You never stop learning", Joanna reflects.
Critical praises were sung for Joanna as she played 'Zhora', the exotic snake dancer replicant in BLADE RUNNER. In one of her most powerful roles, Joanna's passionate portrayal of a radio journalist in 1983's controversial political thriller UNDER FIRE, she drew rave reviews. As a journalist, trapped in the web of deception that characterized the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution, Joanna created a long-lasting impression. She was her own stunt person in STUNTS, and while at THE FOURTH PROTOCAL's premiere in Ireland, one of Joanna's drawings of director Frederick Forsythe was auctioned off for charity.
On television, Joanna has starred in many mini-series and movies, including HOLLYWOOD WIVES, the Emmy award winning BARBARIANS AT THE GATE, LIVE: FROM DEATH ROW, A FATHER'S REVENGE, SLEEP BABY SLEEP, in the highly rated THE ROCKFORD FILES: I STILL LOVE L.A. reunion movie, and MARTHA: THE STORY OF MARTHA STEWART.
With such a demanding work schedule, one would find it hard to fathom that outside of work Joanna leads an extremely active life. Involved with her art, she continues to sculpt and paint as well as collect. "I have a well trained eye and have been collecting since I was seventeen, plus I really love to bargain!". She has discovered American watercolors and encourages the exploration of American artists. Through her worldly travels she has amassed quite a collection of prized antiques. Her penchant for 18th century European art is well displayed in her home. When her schedule permits, Joanna can be found spending time in her garden or working out, either with free weights, aerobics or dancing, "it's great to be physical, I love sports!". She plays golf ("I have a strong hit, a powerful swing and I hit pretty good distances".) and plays tennis at the pro level.
Sensitive to the needs of children and older citizens, much of Joanna's charity work is done with organizations involved with these two groups. She is also active in events sponsored by the American Film Institute. A passionate animal rights activist, Joanna works on behalf of Last Chance for Animals and she is actively involved in International Trauma Healing Institute. She is an avid photographer, as well as being a gifted painter and sculptor. She lives in Los Angeles with two dogs.
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