Actress and singer
Born Catherine Louise Sagal, January 19, 1954, in Los Angeles, California; daughter of Boris Sagal (a television director and producer) and Sara Zwilling (also known as Sara Macon; a singer and television director, producer, and writer); married Freddie Beckmeyer, 1978 (divorced, 1981); married Jack White (a country music drummer), November 27, 1993 (divorced, 2000); married Kurt Sutter (a television writer and producer), October 2, 2004; children: Sarah Grace, Jackson James (from second marriage). Education: Attended California Institute of the Arts.
Addresses: Office—Touchstone Television, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Stage 6, 5th Flr., Ste. 514, Burbank, CA 91521. Website—http://www.kateysagal.net.
Actress in television series, including: Mary, CBS, 1985; Married With Children, FOX, 1987-97; Futurama (animated), FOX, 1999-2002; Tucker, NBC, 2000; Imagine That, NBC, 2002; 8 Simple Rules, ABC, 2002—. Television movies: The Failing of Raymond, 1971; The Dream Makers, NBC, 1975; She Says She's Innocent, NBC, 1991; Trail of Tears, NBC, 1995; Mr. Headmistress, ABC, 1998; Chance of a Lifetime, CBS, 1998; God's New Plan, CBS, 1999. Television pilots: Earth Scum, ABC, 1998. Film appearances include: Maid to Order, 1987. Stage appearances include: Two Gentlemen of Verona, mid-1970s; The Beautiful Lady, Los Angeles, CA, early 1980s. Film song performer for The Silent Rage, 1982. Worked as a singing waitress at the Great American Food and Beverage Company, Santa Monica, CA; appeared as back-up singer on tours of Olivia Newton-John, Etta James, and Tanya Tucker; a member of Bette Midler's Harlettes, c. 1978-81; recorded solo albums including, Well, 1995, and Room, 2004.
Best known for her role as Peg Bundy on the long-running FOX situation comedy Married With Children, actress Katey Sagal also had prominent roles in other television shows including the animated Futurama and ABC's 8 Simple Rules. Sagal began her career in show business as a back-up singer for musical acts in the 1970s and 1980s, and released several records after her acting career took off. In addition to her roles on television series and her singing career, Sagal also appeared in a number of television movies, sometimes in dramatic roles.
Born Catherine Louise Sagal on January 19, 1954, in Los Angeles, California, she is the daughter of Boris Sagal and Sara Zwilling (also known as Sara Macon). Her mother, who worked as a singer and was one of the first women to work in television as a director and producer, died of heart disease when Sagal was 19 years old. Her father was a film and television director and producer, who died tragically in 1981. When Sagal's mother became ill and died, Sagal helped care for her four younger siblings, three of whom also worked as professional actors. Raised primarily in Los Angeles, she attended Pacific Palisades High School. After graduation, Sagal was a student at the California Institute of the Arts, located in Valencia, California, for a time.
From an early age, Sagal liked to sing, and she taught herself how to play the piano when she was a teenager. While she wanted to pursue singing, Sagal focused her attention on acting first, with encouragement from her father. Sagal had several early acting roles. In 1971, she appeared in the television movie The Failing of Raymond as a mental patient. A few years later, Sagal had a role in the nine-month run in a touring stage show Two Gentleman of Verona by Joe Papp. When she returned, she worked at the Great American Food and Beverage Company in Santa Monica, California, as a singing waitress. She later appeared in a television movie directed and produced by her father, The Dream Makers, but disliked the experience and decided to focus on singing.
Sagal spent the rest of the 1970s primarily working as a singer. She performed as a back-up singer on the concert tours of many singing artists including Olivia Newton-John, Etta James, and Tanya Tucker. One of Sagal's longest-running gigs as a singer was with Bette Midler. She was one of Midler's "Harlettes" from about 1978 to 1981. Though Sagal had success as a back-up singer, her attempts to succeed with her own band in Los Angeles' music industry failed. She was able to perform some songs that appeared in films, including 1982's Silent Rage.
Acting lured Sagal back by the early 1980s. She first appeared in a Los Angeles stage production of The Beautiful Lady. Sagal's performance caught the eye of television producers and helped launch her career as an actress in that medium. It led to a role in the situation comedy Mary, which starred Mary Tyler Moore. Sagal played Jo Tucker, a reporter with attitude. Though Sagal was beginning her acting career, she struggled with personal problems. After her father's death, she began using drugs. She finally sought treatment in 1986, and conquered her addiction.
In 1987, Sagal was cast in her second television series, in what became arguably the biggest role of her career. On FOX's Married With Children, she played Peg Bundy, the wife of long-suffering shoe salesman Al Bundy, and mother to two teenage children. Sagal's Peg had big red hair, dressed in tawdry clothes, and liked to do little more than sit on the couch and watch television or cut her husband down. However, the Bundys pulled together when threatened by others. While Married With Children was considered crass by some critics, within a season it became a hit show and had a loyal following.
When Sagal joined the show, she did not have much experience in the industry and, despite some initial nervousness, learned on the job. The success of Married With Children gave Sagal the chance to expand her acting career. In 1987, she made her film debut with a role in Maid to Order. She also appeared in several television movies including 1991's She Says She's Innocent and 1995's Trail of Tears.
Both television movies gave Sagal a chance to demonstrate her ability to do drama. In She Says She's Innocent, she played Susan, a pregnant mother of a teenage girl who was accused of murdering a friend. In Trail of Tears, Sagal and co-star Pam Dawber portrayed mothers whose children are kidnapped by their former spouses.
Tragedy also struck Sagal's own life. In 1991, she became pregnant by boyfriend Jack White, a country music drummer, and the pregnancy was worked into the Married With Children. However, Sagal's child was stillborn in her eighth month of pregnancy. To explain the loss on the show, her character's pregnancy was explained as a dream and all the related episodes were fantasies that did not happen. In Sagal's real life, she married White in 1993 and had two children with him, Sarah Grace and Jackson James, before the marriage ended in divorce in 2000.
Music continued to play a role in Sagal's life while her acting career and personal life continued to grow. In 1987, she formed a R&B (rhythm & blues) band called Katey Sagal. While she achieved little success with the band, she was given a solo recording deal in the early 1990s. In 1995, after 18 months of work, she released Well. Sagal wrote or co-wrote nearly all the tracks on the album, which featured an adult contemporary/R&B sound.
When Married With Children ended its run in 1997, Sagal did not regret her time on the show. She told Ed Bark of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I'm so proud to have been on Married With Children and to have been Peg Bundy. I can't imagine my recoiling from it or not wanting it mentioned I don't have any negative things to say about it, so you won't find me hiding my head."
Professionally, Sagal had several options. After Married With Children, she signed a development deal with CBS to create a situation comedy and appear in television movies. The situation comedy pilot did not make it air, but she did appear in the ABC pilot for Earth Scum in 1998. Sagal also appeared in several television movies.
In 1998, Sagal appeared in a comedic role in the ABC television movie Mr. Headmistress. Set at a girl's school, the title refers to a con artist who dresses like a woman and takes charge of the school. Sagal portrayed his assistant, "Dirty" Harriet Magnum, who wanted his job. It was one of the few times Sagal played a truly bad character. Later that year, she took on a completely different kind of role on the CBS television movie, Chance of a Lifetime. In the drama, she played Irene Duncan, a character who was overweight. She had to wear a padded suit to play the role. Sagal's Duncan was editor at a newspaper who helps her reporter colleague, played by actor John Ritter, when he suffers from health problems. In 1999, Sagal appeared in the dramatic film God's New Plan on CBS. She played a woman who becomes close to a nurse who helps her and her husband after the premature birth of their child, then prevails upon the nurse to take care of the child and her husband a short time later when she learns she is dying.
In addition to appearing in such television movies, Sagal also soon returned to series television. In 1999, she provided a voice for the animated series Futurama, created by Matt Groening who also devised the long-running animated series The Simpsons. Sagal's character was named Leela, who had only one eye and was an alien. The animated show lasted through 2002 on Fox. Several of Sagal's live-action roles were not as long-lived. In 2000, she had a role on Tucker, an NBC situation comedy. Sagal also appeared in another short-lived series on NBC, Imagine That. This program lasted only two episodes in 2002 before being cancelled.
Sagal finally found television gold when she won a role on 8 Simple Rules, known as 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter when it first hit the air. Sagal had to fight to be cast as Cate Hennessey, a role that was originally quite small, so she could work with Ritter again. The family situation comedy primarily focused on the relationship between Cate's husband Paul, played by Ritter, and his two teenage daughters, with their son and the couple's relationship only minor concerns. In the premise of the show, Paul is a newspaper columnist who works at home, while Sagal's character has returned to the work place, putting her husband in a bigger role in his children's lives.
When 8 Simple Rules began airing in 2002, ABC desperately needed a hit. The show was a success in the first season, and as its popularity grew, so did Sagal's role. Sagal unexpectedly became the lead during the second season of 8 Simple Rules when Ritter died on September 11, 2003, while shooting one of the first episodes of the season. After his death, the show was retooled to focus on how the family dealt with the sudden death of their television father. Relatives of Sagal's character were brought in to support her in her loss. 8 Simple Rules remained a popular show and continued into a third season, with Sagal playing a leading role in its success.
As Sagal's professional life remained strong, her personal life and secondary careers also grew. On October 2, 2004, Sagal married her third husband, a television writer and producer named Kurt Sutter. That same year, Sagal released her second album, Room. As with her first album, this record featured many of her own songs as well as covers of classic tunes.
Though Sagal never had the singing career she originally wanted, acting, especially in comedies, proved to be a satisfying career choice for her. She told Dan Yakir of BPI Entertainment News Wire, "Acting offers you the opportunity to explore different features of yourself, which is always illuminating, to put yourself in a situation you've never been in . I have a special feel for comedy, but I didn't know I was funny. I first found out when I went to auditions and the network told me, 'You're funny. You have a gift. You've got the job.'"
Well, Virgin, 1995.
Room, Valley Entertainment, 2004.
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Associated Press, May 2, 2003.
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People, April 18, 1994, p. 109.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), July 28, 2002, p. J1.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 15, 1989, p. 3; March 28, 1998, p. 38.
Toronto Star, July 18, 1987, p. S6; May 29, 1994, p. F2.
Toronto Sun, October 5, 2004, p. 29SUN.
USA Today, October 28, 1991, p. 1D; September 17, 2004, p. 4E.
Washington Post, October 28, 1991, p. D1.