B orn June 4, 1961, in San Diego, CA; daughter of Edwin (a dentist) and Sue Jane (a therapist) White; married Carl Pandel (a restaurateur), 1984 (divorced, 1990); married Christopher Conner (an actor), c. 2002; children: Alexandra (first marriage). Education: Attended Southwest Texas State University and Fordham University.
Addresses: Office—c/o Cavemen, Sony Studios, 10202 West Washington Blvd., Myrna Loy Bldg., Culver City, CA 90232.
A ctress on stage, including: Dark of the Moon, Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, NY, 1984-85; On the Verge, or The Geography of Yearning, Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA, 1985-86; Lucky Stiff, Playwrights Horizons Theater, New York City, 1988; Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grille, Workshop of the Players Art Theater, New York City, 1989; The Heidi Chronicles, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1989-90; Largo Desolato, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1990-91; The Stick Wife, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, 1991; Spike Heels, Second Stage Theatre, New York City, 1992; Money and Friends, Center Theatre Group, Ah-manson Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, 1992-93; Absurd Person Singular, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1992-93; The Family of Mann, Second Stage Theater, New York City, 1994; Dreading Thekla, William-stown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA, 1997; Dinner with Friends, South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA, 1998, Variety Arts Theatre, New York City, 1999-2000; Bad Dates, Playwrights Horizons Theater, New York City, 2003, Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA, 2004; The Little Dog Laughed, Second Stage Theater, the Cort Theatre, New York City, 2005-06. Television appearances include: Grace Under Fire, ABC, 1993-97; Six Feet Under, HBO, 2001-03; Cavemen, ABC, 2007—. Film appearances include: Flypaper, 1997; Say It Isn’t So, 2001; Slap Her She’s French, 2002; War of the Worlds, 2005; The Astronaut Farmer, 2007; Transformers, 2007; The Nanny Diaries, 2007; Michael Clayton, 2007.
Awards: OBIE Award for best leading actress in a play, Village Voice, for The Little Dog Laughed, 2006; Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a play, League of American Theaters and Producers and the American Theatre Wing, for The Little Dog Laughed, 2007.
A ctress Julie White has triumphed on television and stage. She has won a Tony Award, and her work in such New York hits as Bad Dates and The Little Dog Laughed was praised by critics and audiences alike. Television viewers knew White first from her role as the sidekick on Grace Under Fire. She later had acclaimed work in Six Feet Under and was added to the cast of the questionable Cavemen situation comedy in 2007. White appeared in small film roles as well, including parts in War of the Worlds and Transformers.
Born on June 4, 1961, at a naval hospital in San Diego, California, White was the second of three daughters of a dentist, Edwin White, and his therapist wife, Sue Jane. The family moved to Austin, Texas, when White was small, and she spent her childhood there. As a child, White was outgoing and loved to be the center of attention. She was also addicted to movie musicals that she watched on television while home with a stomach ulcer through much of third grade.
White began acting in local productions in Austin during her childhood and, by her teen years, was driving herself to auditions. In addition to appearing with the Center Stage Theatre Group, she was cast in community theater productions of Two Gentleman of Verona and Company. After graduating from Austin’s Anderson High School, White attended nearby Southwest Texas State University. There, she starred in the musical The Baker’s Wife. The creators of the show, Joseph Stein and Stephen Schwartz, saw her performance and told her to move to New York City to further her career.
Taking their advice, White entered Fordham University and continued her acting studies there. When her auditioning led to paying work, she dropped out and never completed her degree. She was also married during this period to restaurateur Carl Pandel. The couple had their only child, Alexandra, in 1986, and divorced in 1990. Throughout her marriage, pregnancy, motherhood, and divorce, White continued to work, primarily on stage. She made her New York debut in 1988 in the Off-Broadway musical Lucky Stiff. She followed this with a co-starring role in the hit Broadway play The Heidi Chronicles, and she appearanced in Spike Heels and Dinner with Friends.
In 1993, White moved from primarily stage work to her first significant role on television. She was cast as the female sidekick/best friend, Nadine, to Brett Butler’s lead in the situation comedy Grace Under Fire. The chemistry between Butler and White was evident from the various auditions in Los Angeles, including one in which the women just talked about a man White had met on the plane. White never read with Butler but was given the role on the spot by the casting director. Executive producer Marc Flanagan told People, “What sets Julie apart is her unique personality. She’s spunky. She’s passionate. She’s a good ol’ girl.”
By the end of the first season, Grace was the number-one new comedy on television, with the ad-libbing and interplay between White and Butler a key part of the show. Starring in a play written by friend Theresa Rebeck reflected the unexpected shift in career focus for White in the summer after that first season. The actress had the lead in Rebeck’s play The Family of Mann, which chronicled the soul-sucking work of producing situation comedies for television in Los Angeles. White played Belinda in the comedy, who remains idealistic despite self-deception involved in the creative process.
Her high-minded Belinda has a Ph.D. but goes west to write scripts with meaning for the titular “quality” television series. She learned that power was all that matters in Los Angeles, tarnishing her beliefs. While generally praising the Off-Broadway production, New York Times critic David Richards singled out White’s performance. He wrote, “If Ms. White were not such an appealing actress, Belinda would be a bit of a dope . The persistent naivete proves endearing.”
After Grace Under Fire was cancelled in 1997, White worked in a variety of genres, appearing in stage, television, and film productions. Of particular note was her recurring role on the hit HBO drama Six Feet Under. From 2001 to 2003, White memorably played Mitzi Dalton-Huntley, a funeral home owner. White’s stage appearances garnered more attention, especially after she moved back to New York City in 2002.
In 2003, White starred in a new play by Rebeck, Bad Dates, first in its original Off-Broadway run, then in the 2004 Boston production as well. The comic play was written specifically by Rebeck for White and featured her musings on the meaning of life through White’s shoe-obsessed Haley Walker. The one-woman show displayed all of White’s talents and was a big triumph in her career. Reviewing the Boston version, the Boston Globe’s Louise Kennedy wrote, “the greatest glory belong to White . She brings to Haley a rich sense of life’s complications and disappointments, an infectiously animated physical presence, and the effortlessly calibrated balance between drollery and depth of a born storyteller.”
By 2005, White was garnering even more praiseworthy reviews for another stage comedy which poked fun at Hollywood, The Little Dog Laughed. White was a success as Diane, the hard-driving, clothes-obsessed talent agent who controlled her closeted gay client, Mitchell. Diane’s primary goal was preventing him from revealing his sexual orientation and damaging his burgeoning career. Of her performance, Anita Gates of the New York Times wrote, “From the first minute of Douglas Carter Beane’s delicious comedy The Little Dog Laughed at Second Stage Theater, Ms. [White] owns the stage.” For her work in the role, White was honored with both an Obie and a Tony Award.
Though The Little Dog Laughed ran through most of 2006, White eventually returned to LosAngeles with her second husband, actor Christopher Conner, and began auditioning for film and television roles again. While she had small parts in films such as 2005’s War of the Worlds, television offered a chance at something more. Still, White refused television parts in favor of the stage. She was offered a recurring role on the hit ABC drama Desperate Housewives as a woman who faked being catatonic, but turned it down to stay with The Little Dog Laughed after it moved to Broadway.
White took a role in the 2007 summer box-office smash Transformers, playing the mother of the male lead. The $180 million film was a hit. Later that year, White finally returned to television when she was added to the cast of the ABC sitcom Cavemen. Based on the popular series of Geico Auto Insurance commercials, the show was a failure among most critics, and White was added to pump up its comic value.
No matter what genre White was acting in, people liked to work with her. Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball told Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press, “Julie’s a down-home Texas girl. She’s smart as a whip, fun to party with, and she has a very wicked sense of humor. She doesn’t have any of the baggage of pretentiousness and entitlement that a lot of people who are world-class actors bring with them. And yet at the same time, she is the kind of actor you can trust with just about anything.”
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Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, vol. 46, Gale Group, 2003.
American Theatre, February 2007, p. 96.
Associated Press, November 14, 2006.
Austin American-Statesman (TX), June 10, 2007, p. J1.
Boston Globe, January 2, 2004, p. C15; January 9, 2004, p. D17.
News Review Messenger (Australia), July 4, 2007.
New Yorker, January 23, 2006, p. 33.
New York Magazine, November 13, 2006.
New York Times, June 29, 1994, p. C15; January 20, 2006, p. E2; June 11, 2007, p. E1.
People, March 27, 1995, p. 57.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA), July 27, 2007, p. F1.
The Record (Bergen County, NJ), November 14, 2006, p. F9.
USA Today, July 13, 1994, p. 3D.