Reuben, Gloria 19(?)(?)–
Gloria Reuben 19(?)(?)–
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Launched into stardom by a winning a role on one of television’s top-rated dramas, Gloria Reuben has become well-known as physician assistant Jeanie Boulet on the NBC series ER. Reuben’s portrayal of an HIV-positive person who is trying to lead a normal life despite her affliction has broken new ground for television and earned critical acclaim for this talented actress.
Reuben projects a quiet intelligence in many of her roles, often playing characters who are soft-spoken and restrained, yet strong and determined. Her graceful, fluid-like mannerisms reflect the extensive dance training she received as a child. While growing up in Toronto, she also began playing piano and seemed destined for a career in music. Reuben attended the prestigious Canadian Royal Conservatory, where she studied jazz, music technique, music theory, and ballet. According to the NBC website on the Internet, she credits her mother, an accomplished singer, and her older brother, a stage actor in New York City, for her decision to pursue an acting career.
Blessed with stunning beauty, Reuben found work as a model for print ads and television commercials in Canada. Her first notable television spot was a commercial for Nestlé’s Sweet Success, in which she swam in her blue jeans. She also landed scattered bit parts on Canadian television shows in the 1980s. In 1988, she moved to Los Angeles to try to break into movies and television and eventually became a regular on The Round Table. She also made guest appearances on The Young Riders and China Beach, the latter produced by future ER producer John Wells.
Reuben’s acting career received a major boost in 1994 when she co-starred as Jean-Claude Van Damme’s smart-talking partner in TimeCop. The following year she appeared on an episode of Silk Stalkings on cable television’s USA network, then landed a role as a sex-crimes detective on NBC’s Homicide. Reuben first appeared on ER in February of 1995 as a physical therapist who was taking care of Dr. Benton’s ailing mother. Reuben felt a special affinity for her role. As she told NBC, “What I like about physical therapists is that they get to develop a close personal relationship with their patients due to the long-term rehabilitation process.”
Born in Toronto, Canada; oneof six children. Education: Canadian Royal Conservatory.
Learned to play piano as a child; studied ballet, jazz, and music technique and theory; worked as a model for magazines and in commercials; had small acting roles on Canadian television series; moved to Los Angeles, CA, 1988; began landing work in television; became a regular on The Round Table; had guest-star roles on The Young Riders and China Beach; co-starred with Jean-Claude Van Damme in TimeCop, 1994; appeared on Silk Stalkings, 1995; had recurring role on three episodes of Homicide; first appeared on ER, 1995; co-starred in feature film Nick of Time with Johnny Depp, 1995; appeared in the television films Percy and Thunder and Confessions: Two Faces of Evil.
By the end of the 1995 season, Reuben’s married character was having a steamy affair with Dr. Benton. In the next season she was recast as a physician’s assistant, which increased her visibility on the show. “She’s strong-willed, sharp and intelligent, but has a dry sense of humor,” Reuben said about her character Jeanie Boulet, according to the NBC website. “She knows exactly what she’s doing professionally, but has a nurturing side too. “Although Reuben spends many hours per day in a hospital setting, medical procedures make her squeamish. “I’ve been in a couple of ERs and watched some procedures and it is intensive.” she told TV Week.”I’m just a wuss when it comes to blood and needles so, although I’m lucky to be on a show that’s considered so successful, I’ve never had any aspirations to be a doctor or nurse for obvious reasons.”
After divorcing her husband, Reuben’s character discovered that he was HIV-positive and had infected her. Much of the 1996-97 season dealt with Boulet’s attempts to come to terms with her illness, which she initially hid from the hospital staff for fear of losing her job. It also marked the first time in television history that a recurring character on a program is HIV-positive. Boulet’s plight has helped to shine the spotlight on the many social ramifications of AIDS and the fear and uncertainty faced by those afflicted with this illness.
In 1995, Reuben starred with Johnny Depp in the suspense thriller Nick of Time. She also appeared in the television movies Percy and Thunder, with James Earl Jones, and NBC’s Confessions: Two Faces of Evil. Although performing in motion pictures is Reuben’s first love, she does not take her good fortune on the small screen for granted. “I made a conscious decision, that if I am going to do television, it is going to be good television,” she told MacLeans in 1995. “I’m lucky it’s out there.”
Nick of Time, 1995.
Selected television films
Percy and Thunder.
Confessions: Two Faces of Evil.
Selected television series
Homicide: Life on the Street, 1994-1995.
Gibbs, Harlan, and Alan Duncan Ross, The Medicine of ER, BasicBooks, 1996.
Atlanta Constitution, September 27, 1995, p. El.Chicago Tribune, September 12, 1995, Section 5, p.3.
Entertainment Weekly, November 8, 1996, p. 54.MacLeans, February 20, 1995, p. 35.New York Times, October 10, 1996, p. C32.People, September 19, 1994, p. 23; May 6, 1996, p.99.
US, May 1996, pp. 44-50.
Further information for this profile was obtained from National Broadcasting Company (NBC) press and publicity materials, and websites for NBC and TV Week on the Internet.
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