Kate grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, born into an Irish Catholic family of 6 (she's the eldest girl). When 12 yrs. old Kate expressed an interest in acting, her mother supported her from the beginning by bringing home biographies of great actresses home for her to read, and sent Kate to summer schools to study acting.
At the age of 17, she left home and traveled to New York to study acting more seriously. At New York University, she was accepted into Stella Adler's Conservatory. At the end of her junior year, she left the university to commit herself full time to her craft.
Her early career included two years on the ABC soap Ryan's Hope while also playing the role of Emily in the American Shakespeare Theatre production of Our Town in Stamford, Connecticut. When Kate was only 23, she played Kate Columbo in a series created especially for her, Mrs. Columbo (1979). In this series, she was playing the wife of one of TV's most beloved detectives, Lt. Columbo. While a critical success, the show was canceled after two seasons.
Kate also starred in serveral motion pictures over the years.
After 12 years of marriage, Kate separated from her husband, Robert Egan in 1993. In 1995 when the divorce became final, Kate was strapped for cash and on the verge of having to sell her house when she was asked to resume a role that the original actress left two days into filming. What Kate didn't realise, it that this role would in fact become her most famous one ... Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager (1995).
Kate currently travels appearing onstage at various venues, most notably in the play Tea at Five protraying the legendary Katharine Hepburn.