Lenney, Dinah

views updated

Lenney, Dinah


Daughter of Nelson Gross; married; husband's name Fred; children: Eliza, Jake. Education: Yale University, B.A.; Neighborhood Playhouse School, certificate; Bennington College Writing Seminars, M.F.A.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. E-mail—[email protected]


Actress, writer. Acting arts instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA. Actress (as Shirley) in the television series ER, 1995—; actress in episodes of series and miniseries that include Remington Steele, Newhart, If Tomorrow Comes, The Twilight Zone, L.A. Law, thirty-something, Knots Landing, Murphy Brown, Three Fugitives, A Fine Romance, Internal Affairs, Baby Talk, Married with Children, Mr. Jones, Babyfever, The Puppet Masters, Cracker, Any Day Now, Get Real, Strange Hearts, Private Practice, Judging Amy, The West Wing, Joan of Arcadia, Without a Trace, and The Happiest Day of His Life.


(With Mary Lou Belli) Acting for Young Actors: The Ultimate Teen Guide, Back Stage Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Bigger Than Life: A Murder, a Memoir, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.

Contributor of essays to journals, periodicals, and anthologies.


Actor and educator Dinah Lenney is the author, with Mary Lou Belli, of Acting for Young Actors: The Ultimate Teen Guide, a volume that cov- ers all aspects of pursing a stage or film acting career. The eleven chapters explain how the young actor should approach auditions and rehearsals, analyze scripts, prepare monologues, and use improvisation in addition to scripted dialogue. The authors include information about community theater and acting camps, and also advise the aspiring actor on the practical but necessary elements of the profession, including working with agents, obtaining work permits, and, for the very young, becoming an emancipated minor.

Reviewing the book in Back Stage West, Jean Schiffman wrote: ‘Surprisingly, given that this is a pocket-sized book, it does a really good job. I can't think of a single aspect of the craft that [the] authors … have left out."

Lenney's second book, Bigger Than Life: A Murder, a Memoir, is an account of the death of her father and the impact this horrific event had on his family. On September 17, 1997, Nelson Gross, a wealthy New Jersey businessman and former assistant secretary of state under President Richard Nixon, was kidnapped by three teenage boys and murdered. They spent the money they took from him on clothes and jewelry and left his body near the Hudson River, where it lay for a week before being discovered. Lenney writes of her difficulty in dealing with her parents' divorce before her father's death and her attempts at explaining his passing to her young children. Booklist reviewer David Pitt concluded: ‘Not a typical ‘survivor's autobiography,’ but a deeply affecting one.’ ‘The subject matter is grim but the writing is anything but,’ commented Robert Ito in the Los Angeles magazine.



Lenney, Dinah, Bigger Than Life: A Murder, a Memoir, University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE), 2007.


Back Stage West, October 12, 2006, Jean Schiffman, review of Acting for Young Actors: The Ultimate Teen Guide, p. 10.

Booklist, March 15, 2007, David Pitt, review of Bigger Than Life, p. 8.

Los Angeles (magazine), March, 2007, Robert Ito, review of Bigger Than Life, p. 94.

New York Times Book Review, April 29, 2007, Tara McKelvey, review of Bigger Than Life; May 13, 2007, Dinah Lenney, letter to the editor (rebuke of McKelvey review), p. 4.


Dinah Lenney Home Page,http://www.dinahlenney.com (September 27, 2007).