Kathleen Doyle "Kathy" Bates is an award-winning American actor of stage, film, and television. Bates first rose to prominence with her performance in the 1990 horror film Misery, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her television work has resulted in fourteen Emmy Award nominations, two of which were for her starring role on the television series Harry's Law and most recently, a win for her highly praised appearance in the third season of FX horror-thriller series American Horror Story.

She is recurring in the first season of Feud as Joan Blondell.

Early Life

Bates was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest of three daughters of Bertye Kathleen (née Talbert; 1907–97), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates (1900–89), a mechanical engineer. Her paternal grandfather was lawyer and author Finis L. Bates. One of her great-great-grandfathers, who from Ireland to New Orleans, Louisiana, served as President Andrew Jackson's doctor. She graduated from White Station High School and from Southern Methodist University (1969), where she majored in Theatre and became a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She moved to New York City in 1970 to pursue an acting career.


Bates' history of Broadway appearances includes Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July and the Robert Altman-directed Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean with Karen Black and Cher. Bates originated the role of Lenny in the first production of Crimes of the Heart at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1979. She was nominated for a Tony Award in 1983 for her stage role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play 'night with Anne Pitoniak. The stage production ran for more than a year. One of her other successful New York stage productions was, Off Broadway, in Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune which ran 533 performances and for which she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1988. McNally specifically wrote the play for Bates and F. Murray Abraham, who had to drop out and was replaced by Kenneth Welsh. The play was later filmed as Frankie and Johnny, starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. She succeeded Amy Irving in the Off-Broadway production of The Road to Mecca in 1988.

Bates' first feature film role was in the 1971 Miloš Forman comedy Taking Off (credited as "Bobo Bates"), in which she sings an original song "Even Horses Had Wings". Bates' next feature was the Dustin Hoffman film Straight Time (1978). In 1977, Bates made her Soap opera debut as Phyllis on NBC's soap opera The Doctors. From 1983 to 1984, she played prison inmate Belle Bodelle on All My Children and from 1984 to 1985, she played Evelyn Maddox on One Life to Live. In 1990 she would appear again with Hoffman in Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy as a stenographer. She appeared in films like The Morning After and Summer Heat, while guest-starring on television's L.A. Law. She then landed the role of obsessed fan Annie Wilkes, who holds her favorite author (played by James Caan) captive, in the 1990 thriller film Misery, based on the Stephen King novel. Bates received her first Academy Award nomination for that role, winning Best Actress.

Soon after, she starred with Jessica Tandy in the acclaimed 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes, based on the novel by comedic actress Fannie Flagg. In 1995 Bates played the title character in Dolores Claiborne, a film adaptation of another Stephen King novel, although she was not nominated for an Oscar. In 1997 Bates played Molly Brown in James Cameron's Titanic. Based on the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, the film went on to earn more than $1.8 billion in box-office receipts worldwide.

Bates also excelled in her role as the acid-tongued "dustbuster" political advisor Libby Holden in the 1998 drama film Primary Colors, which was adapted from the book in which political journalist Joe Klein novelized his experiences on the Presidential campaign trail in 1991–1992. For this performance, she received her second Academy Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actress. In 2002 she received her third nomination, for About Schmidt. More recently, she and Terry Bradshaw played the parents of Matthew McConaughey's character in the 2006 film Failure to Launch. Bates was featured in an uncredited cameo in the miniseries of Stephen King's The Stand.

Bates has been nominated for an Emmy Award twelve times, winning two. She was first nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, for her performance as Jay Leno's manager Helen Kushnick in HBO's The Late Shift (1996), and has been nominated in the same category as Miss Hannigan in Disney's remake of Annie (1999), and for the HBO Franklin Roosevelt biopic Warm Springs (2005). She was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Lifetime Television's Ambulance Girl (2006), which she also directed, and received a Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie nomination for Alice.

She appeared in ten episodes of the HBO cable television series Six Feet Under for which she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, as Bettina, in 2003. She was also nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for 3rd Rock from the Sun in 1999, the same year that she was nominated for Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or Movie for the Dashiell Hammett-Lillian Hellman biopic Dash & Lilly. She also had a recurring guest role on the American version of The Office as Jo Bennett.

Starting in the 1990s, Bates forged a formidable career as a director. She has directed episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, Oz, Six Feet Under and Everwood. Bates directed the television movies Dash and Lilly and the self-starring Ambulance Girl. She directed and co-starred in Have Mercy (2006) with Melanie Griffith. In 2008, she re-teamed with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road. She starred in David E. Kelley's legal drama Harry's Law, which began airing on NBC on January 17, 2011, but was cancelled on May 14, 2012.

In 2012 Bates made a guest appearance on Two and a Half Men as the ghost of Charlie Harper on the episode, "Why We Gave Up Women", which aired on April 30, 2012. In the episode, Charlie has returned as a ghost to haunt his brother, Alan (Jon Cryer). He tells Alan that after a life of womanizing and debauchery, he was sent to hell and condemned to spend eternity in a woman's body. This guest appearance resulted in Bates winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. It was Bates' first Emmy win after nine nominations.

In 2013 she began starring in the American Horror Story series' third season, Coven as Delphine LaLaurie, an immortal racist who is brought back into the modern world after spending years buried alive. For that role, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Bates returned in its fourth season Freak Show as Ethel Darling, a bearded Lady who performs in the freak show the season is centered on. It premiered on October 7, 2015, and concluded on January 13, 2016. On September 14, 2016, Bates returned for her fourth, and the show's sixth season, Roanoke, playing both Thomasin "The Butcher" White, and White's reenactress, Agnes Mary Winstead.

In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Bates and others told the stories of the people killed there.

Bates is the Executive Committee Chair of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors. In 2014, Bates became a national spokesperson for lymphedema and Chairperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network's Honorary Board.

On September 20, 2016, Bates received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her work in the motion pictures industry, located at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard.

Personal Life

Bates has successfully battled ovarian cancer since her diagnosis in 2003. In September 2012, she revealed via Twitter that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier and had undergone a double mastectomy. In 2014, at the New York Walk for Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases, Bates announced via pre-recorded audio that, due to the double mastectomy, she has lymphedema in both arms. At that time, Bates became the National Spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) and has been actively involved in lymphedema and lymphatic disease advocacy.

She was married to Tony Campisi for six years from 1991 to 1997.


Year Title Role Notes
1971 Taking Off Audition Singer Credited as Bobo Bates
1978 Straight Time Selma Darin
1982 Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Stella Mae
1983 Two of a Kind Furniture Man's Wife
1986 The Morning After Woman on Mateo Street
1987 Summer Heat Ruth Stanton
1987 My Best Friend Is a Vampire Helen Blake Credited as Kathy D. Bates
1988 Arthur 2: On the Rocks Mrs. Canby
1989 Signs of Life Mary Beth Alder
1989 High Stakes Jill
1990 Men Don't Leave Lisa Coleman
1990 Dick Tracy Mrs. Green
1990 White Palace Rosemary Powers
1990 Misery Annie Wilkes
1991 Shadows and Fog Prostitute
1991 At Play in the Fields of the Lord Hazel Quarrier
1991 Fried Green Tomatoes Evelyn Couch
1992 The Road to Mecca Elsa Barlow
1992 Prelude to a Kiss Leah Blier
1992 Used People Bibby Berman
1993 Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun Lunar Mom Direct-to-video
1993 A Home of Our Own Frances Lacey
1994 North Alaskan Mom
1994 Curse of the Starving Class Ella Tate
1995 Dolores Claiborne Dolores Claiborne
1995 Angus Meg Bethune
1996 Diabolique Det. Shirley Vogel
1996 The War at Home Maurine Collier
1997 Swept from the Sea Miss Swaffer
1997 Titanic Molly Brown
1998 Primary Colors Libby Holden
1998 The Effects of Magic Raphaella, the Magic Bunny Voice
1998 The Waterboy Helen "Mama" Boucher
1998 A Civil Action Bankruptcy Judge Uncredited
1999 Baby Steps Mrs. Mellon Short film
2000 Bruno Mother Superior
2001 Rat Race The Squirrel Lady Uncredited
2001 American Outlaws Ma James
2002 Love Liza Mary Ann Bankhead
2002 Dragonfly Mrs. Miriam Belmont
2002 About Schmidt Roberta Hertzel
2002 Unconditional Love Grace Beasley
2004 Around the World in 80 Days Queen Victoria
2004 Little Black Book Kippie Kann
2004 Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy The Sea Hag Voice
2004 The Ingrate The Judge Short film
2004 The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing Narrator
2004 The Bridge of San Luis Rey The Marquesa
2005 Hansel and Gretel Narrator Direct-to-video
2005 Guilty Hearts The Judge
2005 Rumor Has It... Aunt Mitsy Uncredited
2006 Failure to Launch Sue
2006 Solace Marrow's Wife Short film
2006 Relative Strangers Agnes Menure
2006 Bonneville Margene Cunningham
2006 Charlotte's Web Bitsy the Cow Voice
2007 Bee Movie Janet Benson Voice
2007 Fred Claus Mother Claus
2007 The Golden Compass Hester Voice
2007 P.S. I Love You Patricia Reilly
2007 Christmas Is Here Again Miss Dowdy Voice
2008 The Family That Preys Charlotte Cartwright
2008 The Day the Earth Stood Still Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson
2008 Revolutionary Road Helen Givings
2009 Chéri Madame Charlotte Peloux
2009 Personal Effects Gloria
2009 The Blind Side Miss Sue
2009 The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club Narrator
2010 Valentine's Day Susan Milton
2011 Midnight in Paris Gertrude Stein
2011 You May Not Kiss the Bride Mrs. Lighthouse
2011 Little Bit of Heaven Beverly Corbett
2014 Tammy Lenore
2015 Boychoir Headmistress
2015 When Marnie Was There Mrs. Kadoya Voice
2016 The Boss Ida Marquette
2016 Complete Unknown Nina
2016 The Great Gilly Hopkins Maime Trotter
2016 Bad Santa 2 Sunny Soke
2017 The Death and Life of John F. Donovan Barbara Haggermaker In post-production
2017 Krystal Vera In post-production

Television film

Year Title Role Notes
1986 Johnny Bull Katherine Kovacs
1987 Murder Ordained Bobbi Birk
1989 Roe vs. Wade Jessie
1989 No Place Like Home Boonie Cooper
1993 Hostages Peggy Say
1995 The West Side Waltz Mrs. Goo
1996 The Late Shift Helen Kushnick
1999 Annie Miss Agatha Hannigan
2000 Possessed Student Credited as Katherine Bates
2002 My Sister's Keeper Christine Chapman
2005 Ambulance Girl Jane Stern
2005 Warm Springs Helena Mahoney

Television series

Year Title Role Notes
1977 The Doctors Phyllis Unknown episode
1978 The Love Boat Sally Allison Episode: "Too Hot to Handle/Family Reunion/Cinderella Story"
1984 All My Children Belle Bodelle Unknown episode
1984 One Life to Live Evelyn Maddox Episode: "December 17, 1984"
1986 Cagney & Lacey Brenda Harris Episode: "Revenge"
1986–87 St. Elsewhere Polly 2 episodes
1989 China Beach Nurse Jan Wyatt Episode: "The World (Part 2)"
1989 L.A. Law Charlotte Haley Episode: "One Rat, One Ranger"
1993 American Experience Narrator Episode: "Amelia Earhart: The Price of Courage"
1994 The Stand Rae Flowers Episode: "The Plague"; uncredited
1999 3rd Rock from the Sun Charlotte Everly Episode: "Alien Hunter"
2000 MADtv Stuart's Grandma Episode: "#6.2"
2001 King of the Hill Police Officer Voice; Episode: "Lupe's Revenge"
2003–05 Six Feet Under Bettina 10 episodes
2004 American Experience Narrator Episode: "Tupperware!"
2009 Alice Queen of Hearts 2 episodes
2010–11 The Office Jo Bennett 8 episodes
2011–12 Harry's Law Harriet Korn 34 episodes
2012 Two and a Half Men Charlie Harper (ghost) Episode: "Why We Gave Up Women"
2013–14 American Horror Story: Coven Marie Delphine LaLaurie 10 episodes
2014–15 American Horror Story: Freak Show Ethel Darling 10 episodes
2014–15 Mike & Molly Kay McKinnon 2 episodes
2015–16 American Horror Story: Hotel Iris 11 episodes
2015 American Dad! D.O. Rothy Voice; Episode: "Manhattan Magical Murder Mystery Tour"
2016 American Horror Story: Roanoke Thomasin White 5 episodes
Agnes Mary Winstead 4 episodes
2017 Feud: Bette and Joan Joan Blondell Episode: "Pilot"
2017 Disjointed Ruth Upcoming series


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Vanities Joanne Playwrights Horizons
1979 The Art of Dining Herrick Simmons Joseph Papp Public Theater [Newman Theater]
1980 Goodbye Fidel Isabel New Ambassador Theatre
1980 Fifth of July June Talley New Apollo Theatre; replacement
1982 Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Stella May Martin Beck Theatre
1983–84 night Jessie Cates American Repertory Theatre
John Golden Theatre
Music Box Theatre
1985 Curse of the Starving Class Ella Promenade Theatre
1987 Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Frankie Manhattan Theatre Club
Westside Theatre
1988 The Road to Mecca Elsa Barlow Promenade Theatre; replacement


Year Title Notes
1995 Great Performances Episode: "Talking With"
1996 Homicide: Life on the Street Episode: "Scene of the Crime""
1997 NYPD Blue Episode: "I Love Lucy"
1998 Oz Episode: "Family Bizness"
1999 Dash and Lilly
2001–03 Six Feet Under 5 episodes
2002 Everwood Episode: "The Great Doctor Brown"
2003 Fargo Unsold TV pilot
2005 Ambulance Girl
2006 Have Mercy



  • Her favorite film role is Dolores Claiborne.
  • She was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a horror/thriller for her role as Annie Wilkes in the 1990-film Misery.

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