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Mercedes Ruehl

Mercedes Ruehl
Ruehl in East Hampton, New York in October 2009
Born Mercedes J. Ruehl
(1948-02-28) February 28, 1948 (age 72)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) David Geiser

Mercedes J. Ruehl (born February 28, 1948) is an American theater, television, and film actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1992 for The Fisher King and a Tony Award for her performance in Lost in Yonkers in 1991.

Personal life

Ruehl was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City,[1] the daughter of Mercedes J. Ruehl, a school teacher, and Vincent Ruehl, an FBI agent.[2][3] She was raised Catholic.[4] Her father was of German and Irish descent and her mother was of Cuban and Irish ancestry.[5][6] Ruehl attended College of New Rochelle[7] and graduated in 1969. She is married to painter David Geiser, with whom she adopted a son, Jake (born 1995).[8] She had another son, Christopher, whom she placed in adoption in 1976; he later became Jake's godfather.[8]

Her brother, Peter Ruehl, moved to Australia in 1987 where he was a popular newspaper columnist until his death in 2011.[9]


Ruehl began her career in regional theatre with the Denver Center Theatre Company, taking odd jobs between engagements. Her first starring role on Broadway came in 1984's I'm Not Rappaport. She then went on to win the 1984 Obie Award for her performance in The Marriage of Bette and Boo and twenty years later, an Obie for Woman Before a Glass. She also received a 1991 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers and continued her role in the show during its tour with co-star Mercedes McCambridge. Her performances in two other plays earned her two other Tony nominations: in 1995, as Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) for a revival of The Shadow Box; and in 2002, as Best Actress (Play) for Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?.[10]

Her most acclaimed film role was in The Fisher King; her performance in the film earned her the 1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as an American Comedy Award, a Boston Society of Film Critics Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and a Golden Globe. Earlier she had won the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Married to the Mob. She played KACL station manager Kate Costas in five episodes of Frasier, and had a major role in the made-for-TV film All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. She is the first Cuban American female Academy Award winner. In 2005, she (along with Esai Morales) received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. She later played the mother of main character Vincent Chase in HBO's Entourage.

In 2009, Ruehl returned to the Broadway stage in Manhattan Theater Club's production of Richard Greenberg's The American Plan playing the role of Eva Adler.[11] The production opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre and the limited engagement ran From January 22 until March 22.[12] In his rave review in The New York Times, Ben Brantley called Ruehl's performance "masterly".[13] Ruehl next appeared in the drama/horror film What Ever Happened to Barker Daniels?, which was released in 2009.[14] In January 2012, Ruehl starred in Sarah Treem's play The How and The Why, directed by Emily Mann at McCarter Theatre of Princeton University.[15]


Though not a singer herself, Ruehl was involved in the production of the album Haunted by Poe; she also reads passages from the book House of Leaves by Poe's brother Mark Z. Danielewski on the CD Don't be Scared, issued to cross-promote both projects.



Year Film Role Other notes
1976 Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands American girl in casino
1979 The Warriors Policewoman in Central Park
1981 Four Friends Woman in Taxi
1986 Twisted Cybelle
Heartburn Eve
1987 Leader of the Band Miss Cooper
Radio Days Ad Men
84 Charing Cross Road Kay
The Secret of My Success Sheila
1988 Big Mrs. Baskin
Married to the Mob Connie Russo National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1989 Slaves of New York Samantha
Crimes and Misdemeanors Party Guest uncredited
1990 Crazy People Dr. Liz Baylor
1991 Another You Elaine
The Fisher King Anne Napolitano Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Pasinetti Award for Best Actress (Venice Film Festival)
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1993 Lost in Yonkers Bella Kurnitz
Last Action Hero Irene Madigan
1994 On Hope Wendy
1995 Indictment: The McMartin Trial Lael Rubin
1997 For Roseanna

Roseanna 'Rosa'
1999 The Minus Man Jane Durwin
Out of the Cold Tina
2000 Spooky House Boss
What's Cooking? Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Avila
More Dogs Than Bones Victoria 'Vic' Galletti
The Amati Girls Grace
2004 Zeyda and the Hitman Esther
2007 A Happy Death Aunt Rosa
2009 Loving Leah Janice Lever


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Mom's on Strike Sandy
1985 Our Family Honor Louise Taylor Episode: "Homecoming"
1986 Kate & Allie Millie Episode: "Late Bloomer"
1990 Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby Show Bernadette Foley Episode: "The Moves"
1995 Indictment: The McMartin Trial Lael Rubin Nominated — CableACE Award for Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1995–1996 Frasier Kate Costas 5 episodes
1997 SUBWAY Stories: Tales from the Underground Leyla Segment: "Underground"
North Shore Fish Florence
1998 Gia Kathleen Carangi
2000 All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story Jane Newhall
Lost Child, TheThe Lost Child Rebecca Hallmark Hall of Fame
2001 Mr. Life
2002 Guilt by Association Susan Walker
Widows Dolly Rawlins Miniseries
2004 1-800-Missing Emanuelle Baker Episode: "These Dreams Before Me"
Bad Apple Lorraine Gibbons
Law & Order Zina Rybakov Episode: "All in the Family"
2005 Mom at Sixteen Terry Jeffries Nominated — Prism Award Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries
2006 Entourage Rita Chase Episodes: "Aquamom" and "Return To Queens Blvd"
A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story Sylvia Guerrero Nominated — Imagen Award for Best Actress - Television
2007 Psych Detective Goochberg Episode: "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast"
2009 Law & Order Judge Clara Lloyd Episode: "By Perjury"
2015 Law & Order: SVU Lucia Barba Episode: "December Solstice"


Year Title Role Notes
1985 I'm Not Rappaport [16] Clara Nov. 19, 1985 - Jan. 17, 1988
1989 Other People's Money Kate Sullivan Clarence Derwent Awards for Most Promising Female Performer
1991 Lost in Yonkers Bella Feb. 21, 1991 - Jan. 3, 1993
Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
1993 47th Tony Awards Performer Jun. 6, 1993
1994 The Shadow Box Beverly Nov. 20, 1994 - Jan. 1, 1995
Nominated - Tony Award for Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
1995 The Rose Tattoo Serafina Delle Rose Apr. 30, 1995 - Jul. 2, 1995
Nominated - Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
2002 The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Stevie Mar. 10, 2002 - Dec. 15, 2002
Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play
Nominated - Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
2005 Woman Before a Glass Performer Nominated - Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance
2009 The American Plan Eva Adler Jan. 22, 2009 - Mar. 22, 2009


  1. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (26 March 1992). "Mercedes Ruehl, Driven; The Manic Actress On the Road to Oscar". The Washington Post (HighBeam Research). Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  2. ^ "Mercedes Ruehl biography (1948?- )". Film Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  3. ^ Stark, John; Hutchings, David (5 September 1988). "Playing a Gangster's Spitfire Wife, Mercedes Ruehl Heists the Spotlight in Married to the Mob". People. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  4. ^ Ruehl, Mercedes. Casting a new light on a dark subject - novelist Cynthia Ozick - Interview. Interview. August 1994.[dead link]
  5. ^ Corliss, Richard (6 April 2002). "That Old Feeling: The Oscar Race". Time. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  6. ^ Buckley, Michael. "STAGE TO SCREENS: Mercedes Ruehl, the Macy-Mamet Connection and Remembering Brad Sullivan". Playbill. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  7. ^ "About CNR". College of New Rochelle. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  8. ^ a b "Mercedes Ruehl". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  9. ^ "Newspaper columnist Peter Ruehl dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  10. ^ "Biography: Mercedes Ruehl". American Theatre Wing. February 2005. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth (22 January 2009). "Ruehl & Rabe Are Mother and Daughter in Broadway's American Plan, Opening Jan. 22". Playbill ( Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth (19 February 2009). "Broadway's American Plan Is Extended to March 22". Playbill ( Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  13. ^ "Rapunzel in the Catskills". The New York Times ( 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  14. ^ Retrieved on 2009-24-04[dead link]
  15. ^ Filichia, Peter (18 January 2011). "'The How and the Why' review: Princeton play premiere proves to be all-inclusive success". The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey: Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  16. ^

External links

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