Swoosie Kurtz Biography

Swoosie Kurtz was born in Omaha, Neb., on September 6, 1944. Her father, Frank Kurtz, Jr. was a decorated pilot during WWII and an Olympic diver; her mother Margo Kurtz was author of My Rival the Sky and a homemaker. The family of three lived around Frank’s military career: they moved around quite often, Margo’s mother wrote a book on the war as it affected their family, and Swoosie’s name is derived from the B-17 Flying Fortress her father extensively flew during the Second World War, breaking numerous records during this time. It was called The Swoose—half swan, half goose—due to the repairs it was given in Australia and as a reference to “Alexander the Swoose,” a song by Franklin Furlett.

Swoosie Kurtz is the only person in the world with the name “Swoosie.”

Swoosie Kurtz Theatre Career

Supported by her parents, Kurtz became interested in drama during college, choosing it as her major at the University of Southern California before heading off to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.


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Kurtz’s career began off-Broadway, making her debut in a 1968 rendition of The Firebugs, playing the role of Ann which led to more roles, specifically the one of Gwen Landis in the 1980 rendition of Fifth of July. “I eventually got to Broadway, with Ah, Wilderness!, Eugene O’Neill’s play,” Kurtz told uInterview, “and then I did a few more and then eventually got into a real game changer for me which was Lanford Wilson’s play Fifth of July, which I did with Christopher Reeve and Jeff Daniels and I won my first Tony Award for that, so that was a big thrill.” Kurtz won the Broadway Triple Crown having earned a Tony, a Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle for her performance.

Swoosie Kurtz Television Career

Kurtz eventually found herself on television where she would find the majority of her work for the rest of her career, sharing the screen with established stars like Donna Reed, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Tony Randall—as well as soon-to-be-star David Letterman and Michael Keaton.

She co-starred with Tony Randall on the sitcom Love, Sidney in 1981. While the series itself last only two seasons, it lead to Kurtz’s first of ten Emmy nominations.

Kurtz went on to either star or guest star on such shows as Sisters, ER, Nurse Jackie, Mike & Molly, Desperate Housewives, and That’s Life. However, it is the role of Lily Charles, the half-blind gun-toting and acerbic aunt/mother of Anna Friel’s Chuck Charles on the cult classic Pushing Daisies that Swoosie herself has a personal affection for. In her memoir Part Swan, Part Goose, Kurtz referred to the series as well as creator Bryan Fuller as brilliant, and blamed the network’s handling of Pushing Daisies as well as the 2007 Writers Strike for its untimely cancellation. “The writers’ strike,” Kurtz told UInterview. “We were going full steam, you know — nominated for everything, good reviews, good ratings and then the writer’s strike hit.”

Swoosie Kurtz also made her way to the silver screen; over the years she has starred in films such as The World According to Garp, Bright Lights Big City, Citizen Ruth, Liar Liar, Dangerous Liaisons as well as its remake Cruel Intentions.

Swoosie Kurtz Marriage and Family

Kurtz never married nor had children. For the most part, her private life has remained private, though she notably dated Star Trek: The Next Generation and Night Court star Brent Spiner for eight years. In her memoir Part Swan, Part Goose, she reveals that she had an abortion in 1963. “It was a devastating experience on all levels,” she told uInterview, “and, you know, difficult and anguishing to make the decision to begin with.”oosie

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