Who is Lea Thompson?
Lea Katherine Thompson was born on May 31, 1961, in Rochester, Minnesota. She is the youngest of five children at her home and her parents are Barbara Anne (Barry) and Clifford Elwin “Cliff” Thompson. Since all her siblings were much older than she was at home, Lea says it seemed like she had a lot of parents. The family lived in the Starlight Motel and all the kids shared a room. Things began to look up for the family when Lea’s father got a job in Minneapolis, where the family moved after a while along with Lea.
Now a day, she is an American actress, director, and regular television producer. She is very well known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy (Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 American adventure film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Bob Gale. It is the sequel to the 1985 film Back to the Future and the second installment in the Back to the Future trilogy. The film stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, and Lea Thompson. In the plot, Marty McFly (Fox) and his friend Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (Lloyd) travel to 2015, where bully Biff Tannen (Wilson) steals Doc’s DeLorean time machine and uses it to alter history for the worse) and as the title character in the 1990s NBC sitcom Caroline in the City. Other films for which she is known are, All the Right Moves (1983), Red Dawn (1984), Howard the Duck (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), and The Beverly Hillbillies (1993). From 2011-2017, she co-starred as Kathryn Kennish in the Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series Switched at Birth.
Thompson was born in Rochester, Minnesota, one of five children of Clifford and Barbara Barry Thompson. She has two sisters, Coleen Goodrich and Shannon Katona and two brothers, Andrew (ballet dancer) and Barry. Her mother talks in Irish descent.
Lea’s parents divorced when she was six, and her mother decided to maintain the family. This wasn’t the easiest job, considering her mother was alcohol-addicted at the time. When she found the strength to quit drinking, she took a job playing the piano and singing in a bar to support Lea and her siblings. When Lea was seven, her mother remarried. Ever since Lea was little, she loved to dance — ballet to be exact.
She studied ballet as a girl and danced professionally by the age of 14, also won scholarships to the American Ballet Theatre, the San Francisco Ballet, and the Pennsylvania Ballet. At the time, she was 20 years old and dancing professionally with American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company (then known as ABT II), and when the time came to decide if she really would move to the main company to dance for a career, Baryshnikov, who was the artistic director at the time, told her, “You’re a lovely dancer, but you’re too stocky.” In her words, that was “my epiphany when I decided to stop dancing and not be a ballet dancer. It was a wonderful moment because I could’ve been banging my head against the wall for another 10 years.”
Moving to New York at age 20, she performed in a number of Burger King advertisements in the 1980s along with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Elisabeth Shue, her eventual co-star in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III (Back to the Future Part III is a 1990 American science fiction Western comedy film and the third and final installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, and stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson and Lea Thompson. The film continues immediately following Back to the Future Part II (1989); while stranded in 1955 during his time travel adventures, Marty McFly (Fox) discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, trapped in 1885, was killed by Biff Tannen‘s great-grandfather Buford. Marty travels to 1885 to rescue Doc. Back to the Future Part III was filmed in California and Arizona, and was produced on a $40 million budget back-to-back with Part II. Part III was released in the United States on May 25, 1990, six months after the previous installment. Part III earned $244.5 million worldwide, making it the sixth-highest-grossing film of 1990.)
She has been married to film director Howard Deutch since 1989 while they both met on the set of Some Kind of Wonderful (1987).
This couple have two daughters, Madelyn (born 1991) and Zoey (born 1994), with whom she sang on stage in the Bye Bye Birdie production for the 16th annual Alzheimer’s Association “A Night at Sardi’s” in March 2008.
In a snapshot:
- 1961 -Born in Rochester, Minnesota, U.S
- 1983- First movie released Jaws-3D
- 1983- She had a fiancée Dennis Quaid for 3 years
- 1985- Biggest career turn movie released Back to The Future
- 1989- Married with Howard Dutch
- 1991- Her first daughter born
- 1994- Her second daughter born
- 2014- She won Best Actress on American Movie Awards for The Trouble with the Truth
Thompson made her home-media screen debut in 1982 as Cecily “Sissy” Loper in the interactive live-action video game MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? and her first movie released in 1983, with Jaws 3-D. She recalled the film as “the very first movie I ever got, but I lied and said I had done a couple of other movies, so when I showed up, I really knew absolutely nothing. Also, I had said that I knew how to water ski. And I did not. So I had, like, five days to learn really, really complicated water-skiing things, because I had to fit into the Sea World water-skiing show. I don’t even know how to swim!” She followed this other movies like All the Right Moves (1983), Red Dawn (1984), and The Wild Life (1984).
Thompson’s one of the most famous role is that of Lorraine Baines McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, with the first film released in 1985 with a big hit number. Thompson’s character is the mother of Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, whom Marty meets when she is a 1950s adolescent age after he travels back in time; he has to avoid having Lorraine fall in love with him instead of with his future father, George (Crispin Glover), which leads to awkward scenes where Lorraine is attracted to him.
In 1986, Thompson starred in SpaceCamp and Howard the Duck. For the latter film, she sang several songs on the soundtrack in character for the movie, as musician Beverly Switzler (Beverly Switzler is a fictional character appearing in the Marvel Comics Universe. She is mostly a companion and sometime girlfriend to Howard the Duck), who was the lead vocalist for a band called Cherry Bomb. The recordings appeared on the soundtrack album and on singles. Rounding out film appearances in the late 1980s, Thompson starred in Some Kind of Wonderful, Casual Sex?, and The Wizard of Loneliness. She also had a prominent role in the 1989 TV film Nightbreaker, for her amazing job with the character, she was nominated for a CableACE Award. In the early 1990s, Thompson starred as the mother of the eponymous character in Dennis the Menace (1993), the villainess in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), and a snooty ballet instructor in The Little Rascals (1994). She also appeared in several TV films throughout the 1990s, including The Substitute Wife (1994) and The Right To Remain Silent (1996).
Thompson has starred in more than 30 films, 25 television movies, 4 television series, more than 20 ballets, and starred on Broadway in “Cabaret”. Lea was also be seen on ABC Family’s Peabody Award winning hit show “Switched at Birth,” where she acts and directs. Lea’s movie credits include: “All the Right Moves,” “Red Dawn,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Howard The Duck”(star and vocals), Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar;” the 2014 Sundance favorite “Ping Pong Summer;” and soon to be released “Left Behind” starring Nicolas Cage.
Her screen appearances:
- 1983- Jaws 3-D as Kelly
- 1983- All the Right Moves as Lisa
- 1984- Red Dawn as Erica
- 1984- The Wild Life as Anita
- 1985- Going Undercover as Marigold
- 1985- Back to the Future as Lorraine
- 1986- Spacecamp as Kathryn
- 1986- Howard the Duck as Beverly
- 1987- Some kind of Wonderful as Amanda
- 1988- The Wizard of Loneliness as Sybil
- 1989- Nightbraker as Sally Mathews
- 1989- Tales from the crypt as Sylvia
- 1989- Back to the Future Part 2 as Lorraine
- 1990- Montana as Peg Guthrie
- 1990- Back to the Future Part 3 as Maggie McFly
- 1992- Article 99 as Dr. Robin
- 1993- Stolen Babies as Annie
- 1993- Dennis the Menace as Alice
- 1993- The Beverly Hillbillies as Laura Jackson
- 1994- The Substitute Wife as Amy Hightower
- 1994- The Little Rascals as Ms. Roberts
- 1995- The Unspoken Truth as Brianne
- 1995- Friends as Caroline
- 1996- The Right to Remain Silent as Christine Paley
- 1998- The Unknown Cyclist as Melissa
- 1998- A Will of Their Own as Amanda
- 1995- Caroline in the city as Caroline
- 2002- Fish Don’t Blink as Clara
- 2002- Back to the Future: Hilarious Outtakes as Lorraine
- 2003- For the People as Chief Dep. Dist. Atty. Camille Paris
- 2003- Haunted Lighthouse as Peg Van
- 2003- Stealing Christmas as Sarah Gibson
- 2004- ED as Liz Stevens
- 2004- Law & Order as Michelle
- 2005-06- Jane Doe (Vanishing Act, Now you see it, Til Death do us, The Wrong Face, Yes, I Remember it well, The Harder They Fall) as Cathy
- 2005- Come Away Home as Carol
- 2006- 10 Tricks as Grace
- 2007- California Dreaming as Ginger Gainor
- 2007-08- Jane Doe: (Ties That Bind, How to fire your boss, Eye of the Beholder) as Cathy
- 2007- A Life Interrupted as Debbie
- 2007- Final Approach as Alicia
- 2008- Spy School Claire
- 2008- Senior Skip Day as Cathleen
- 2008- Exit Speed as Maudie
- 2008- The Christmas Clause as Sophie
- 2009- Fatal Secrets as Rebecca
- 2009- The Check as Darla
- 2009- Rock Slyde as Master
- 2009- Splinterheads as Susan
- 2010- Greek as April
- 2010- I Was a 7th Grade Dragon Slayer as Laura
- 2010- Uncle Nigel as Abby
- 2011- Thin Ice as Jo Ann
- 2011- Robot Chicken as Lorraine
- 2011- Mayor Cupcake as Mary Maroni
- 2011- The Cabin as Lily MacDougal
- 2011- The Trouble with The Truth as Emily
- 2011- J. Edgar as Lela Rogers
- 2011- Game of your Life as Abbie
- 2012- Mystery Case Files as Cassandra Williams
- 2012- Love at the Christmas Table as Elissa Beth
- 2013- Call Me Crazy as Julia
- 2013- CSI as Jennifer Rhodes
- 2014- Ping Pong Summer as Crandall Miracle
- 2014- My Mother’s Future Husband as Rene
- 2014- Left Behind as Irene
- 2014- A to Z as Lea
- 2015- Family Guy as Lorraine
- 2015- The Muppets as Lea Thompson
- 2016- The Dog Lover as Liz Holloway
- 2016- American Dad as Caroline
- 2016- Stars are Already Dead as Aunt Sophia
- 2017- Scorpion as Veronica
- 2017- Switched at birth as Kathryn
- 2017- Literally Right Before Aaron as Deb
- 2017- The Year of Spectacular Men as Deb Klein
- 2017- Penn Zero as Vonnie Zero
- 2017- Who we are now as Alana
- 2018- Over The Hill as Sally
- 2018- Culture Clash as Lisa
- 2018- Sierra Burgess is a Loser as Mrs. Burgess
- 2018- Little Women as Marmee
Trivia about Lea Thompson
- Was engaged to Dennis Quaid for about 3 years before marrying Howard Dutch by 1989. She met Quaid on the set of her first movie Jaws 3-D (1983) and engaged the same year.
- She got two daughters, Madelyn Dutch (1991) and Zoey Dutch (1994) with her husband Howard Dutch.
- She attended Marshall-University High School.
- She met with her husband Howard Dutch when he was directing her in Some Kind of Wonderful by 1987.
- Once upon a time she claimed as she was one of the few ballerinas at the American Ballet Theatre that didn’t have an eating disorder.
- Won scholarships to the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.
- Danced in more than 45 ballets with the American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.
- Her brother, Andrew Thompson, was also a modern ballet dancer with the Colorado Ballet. They both took ballet classes throughout their youth, and he helped her pay for her classes later on in life to continue her study.
- It took approximately four hours to apply the makeup that would make her and co-stars Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson appear to be middle-aged adults in Back to the Future movie which was a super hit that time (1985).
- Her character’s name in Back to the Future (1985) underwent numerous changes when the script was being written. In an early draft, her character was called Mary Ellen, and in later drafts, she was called Eileen before it finally became Lorraine in the script.
- Her husband’s uncle is also an actor Robert Walden.
- She did her own singing in Howard the Duck (1986).
- She was in series of Burger King commercials in the early 1980’s after she decided not to do Ballet dance anymore, the series also starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and Elisabeth Shue.
- She appeared with both her daughters in Mayor Cupcake (2011). The mother, daughter, sister relationships of their roles are the same ones in the screen they have in real life.
- In Back to the Future Part II (1989) a clip for Jaw 19 is mentioned in the movie, Lea was in a supporting role in the movie Jaws 3-D which was her debut movie (1983).
- Her first role was as water skiing water show performer, she did not know how to water ski or even swim prior to being cast, as she said few days ago also as “still don’t know swimming”.
- She has sung duets with both her daughters at a number of the What A Pair benefit concerts supporting breast cancer research as one of their social works.
- Her children’s, Madelyn Dutch and Zoey Dutch are actress too.
- She directs and appears in the film The Year of Spectacular Men (2017) with her daughters, Madelyn Dutch and Zoey Dutch. The film’s screenplay was authored by her daughter, Madelyn.
- She made her big major directorial debut with “The Goldbergs” as ABC was pressuring the producers to hire more female directors and she did it successfully. Thompson says that she has “a super affection for Philadelphia, having been a dancer there years ago. Plus, being married to a New York Jew, I have learned how healthy it is for people to be honest and express emotions. Which is what ‘The Goldbergs’ is all about”.
Awards and Nominations
- 1985- Nominated for Saturn Awards for Best Supporting Actress for acting in Back To The Future.
- 1987- Won Young Artist Awards for Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama for the movie Some kind of Wonderful.
- 1990- Won Kids Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actress for the movie Back to the Future Part 2.
- 1995- Won Peoples Choice Awards for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series for acting on Caroline in the City.
- 1996- Nominated for Satellite Awards for Best Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy for acting on Caroline in the City.
- 2014- Won American Movie Awards for Best Actress for acting on The Trouble with the Truth.
Best words from her husband
“Lea has always been the artist in this family,” Howard told a magazine. “Our kids got that from her. Just as she did from her parents and how they valued creativity and her gift.”
Of her daughters following in her footsteps, Lea told another magazine, “I think that in a lot of ways we just feel as if they’re going into the family business, and that is lovely. It’s kind of sickening sometimes at the dinner table because all we talk about is work, but I have a wonderful, collaborative relationship with both of my daughters.”
Why Lea gave up on dancing (by her own words)
“I don’t have the right sort of body to be the best. I had a lot of nagging little injuries, and later I found out my last vertebrae had fused, and I had to stop dancing professionally. Then I met a manager who was Tom Hanks’ manager before he was ‘Tom Hanks.’ I’d only been onstage once, and I’d done Burger King commercials, Elisabeth Shue and I. People advised me. ‘Don’t tell anyone you’re a dancer.’ There’s an old saw in theater: ‘Dancers can’t act.'”
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