Stockard Channing

The former bad girl of 'Grease' swapped Tinseltown for the New York stage, and her performances have raked in the awards, leading to an Oscar nomination and a role in 'The West Wing'.


Forever known for her role as Rizzo in the film 'Grease', Stockard was born in Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 1944. Born Susan Williams Antonia Stockard Channing Schmidt, she was the daughter of a wealthy shipping executive and, upon his death in 1950, inherited the family fortune.

An academic star at New York’s Chapin School and Radcliffe College, she made her first performance in 'The Threepenny Opera' at Harvard University. She then joined Boston’s experimental Theatre Company in the mid 1960s, where she met contemporaries John Lithgow and Tommy Lee Jones.

After several false starts, her big break was in a television production of 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona'. Her film debut was in 'Hospital' in 1971, and she also starred in Joan Rivers’ camp classic, 'The Girl Most Likely To..', in 1973. In 1975, Channing had her big break in 'The Fortune', alongside Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson.

It was in 1976 that she landed the timeless part of tough-girl Rizzo in the musical 'Grease'. This led to her two short-lived sitcoms: 'Stockard Channing in Just Friends' and 'The Stockard Channing Show'.

Focusing on the theatre in the 1980s, she won a Tony award for her performance in 'A Day In The Life of Joe Egg' in 1983. Channing really returned to screen form in 1993’s 'Six Degrees of Separation', for which she was awarded a Golden Globe.

Her most recent screen success has been in 'Where the Heart Is', in 2000.


In 1999, Channing took on the role of First Lady Abbey Bartlet in the political drama 'The West Wing'. She was a recurring guest star for the show's first two seasons, before she became a regular cast member in 2001. In the seventh and final season of 'The West Wing' (2005-2006), Channing appeared in only six episodes because she was also starring in the sitcom 'Out of Practice' at the same time. 'Out of Practice' was cancelled by CBS after one season.

Channing won a series of awards in 2002, including the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on 'The West Wing'.

She also won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress in a TV Movie or Miniseries for her role as Judy Shepard in 'The Matthew Shepard Story', which was based on the true story of an openly gay college student who was murdered.

The following year, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award, followed by a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special for 'Jack' in 2005.

In November 2008, Channing returned to Broadway in the show 'Pal Joey' for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She also starred in the stage production of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' in June 2010. She has most recently been seen in 'The Good Wife' (2012-2014).

Channing has been married and divorced four times; she has no children. She wed Walter Channing in 1963 and kept the name 'Stockard Channing' after their divorce in 1967. Channing then married professor of Slavic languages Paul Schmidt in 1970 until they divorced in 1976.

In 1976, she married writer-producer David Debin but this ended in 1980. Channing wed businessman David Rawlins in 1980 but they divorced in 1988.

She has been in a long-term relationship with cinematographer Daniel Gillham for more than twenty years, after they met on the set of 'A Time of Destiny'.