Intimate Portrait

Season 8 Episode 29

Suzanne Pleshette

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Aired Monday 7:00 PM Dec 23, 2002 on Lifetime
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Suzanne Pleshette
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Suzanne Pleshette: Bold Broad When Suzanne Pleshette first entered into the world, doctors were forced to take extraordinary steps to save her. Born without a heartbeat, she was given an adrenaline shot to get it started. That spark ignited the little girl who grew up to be a frank, feisty woman who led a glamorous life. Pleshette, the daughter of a ballerina and the head of a fabled New York theater, was destined for a life in entertainment. She enrolled in the "Fame" High School of the Performing Arts and went on to study at the legendary Neighborhood Playhouse. The aspiring actress soon began getting parts in plays, and soon won the role of a lifetime, replacing Ann Bancroft in the Broadway production of "The Miracle Worker." Pleshette fell for heartthrob Troy Donahue and the couple married in 1964, but the actor's alcoholism led to the dissolution of the marriage just nine months later. The sultry star soon took up with the very married David Janssen of TV's "The Fugitive," but when he refused to leave his wife she married businessman Tommy Gallagher in 1968. Her career proved more stable as she took turns starring with some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Steve McQueen in "Nevada Smith" and James Garner in "Support Your Local Gunfighter". The bawdy, brash Pleshette became a favorite on Johnny Carson's show after she remarked, " I did nine westerns. I can't ride but I mount with great authority." Her wicked humor convinced comedian Bob Newhart to cast the saucy star as the wife on his new sitcom in 1972. Pleshette accepted, but there was a catch: No kids on the show. The request stemmed from her real-life situation; the actress had miscarried and would never get pregnant again. A TV show about a childless couple was groundbreaking--allowing the focus to be on careers and adult relationships--and the actors' obvious chemistry made the sitcom an instant hit. Newhart was slight and quiet, and the strong, vocal Pleshette was his perfect foil. The show lasted six stellar seasons. Throughout the '80s and '90s, Pleshette worked regularly on television. But in 2000, the actress' personal life took a turn for the worst when her husband died from e. coli poisoning after surviving a bout of cancer. Thankfully, Pleshette reunited with her old love, actor Tom Poston, also of "The Bob Newhart Show," who had lost his wife. The two decided to join a support group together, and soon, after forty years apart, they rekindled their romance and were married in May of 2001. Pleshette is enjoying a professional comeback as well, appearing as Karen's emotionally stunted mom on "Will and Grace," a role she has parlayed into a starring turn on the new sitcom "Good Morning Miami". It appears now that Pleshette's is a tale of all's well that ends well.moreless

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