Kathleen Chalfant was born Kathleen Palmer on January 14, 1945 in San Francisco, California. Her first movie role was in the 1987 drama film Five Corners as the character, Mrs. Fitzgerald. She was in the Off-Broadway play Wit. She played Vivian Bearing, who a terminally ill cancer patient. She won the 1999 Obie Award for her Outstanding Performance in the play. She was also in the original Broadway production of Angels in America. Kathleen played the role that Meryl Streep had in the movie. She has had roles in Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order, The Guardian, and The Book of Daniel.