Stockard Channing's Life and Career in Photos

The Grease star turns 78 on Feb. 13 — to celebrate, we're looking back at some of her most iconic roles over the years 

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Stockard Channing's Life in Photos

Stockard Channing
Nancy R. Schiff/Getty; John Lamparski/Getty

Born on Feb. 13, 1994, Stockard Channing's acting career has spanned five decades in Hollywood and beyond. Best known for her turns as Rizzo in Grease and Dr. Abbey Bartlet on The West Wing, the 13-time Emmy nominee has had a storied career. In honor of her 78th birthday, we're looking back at some of her most iconic roles.

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Stockard Channing in 'The Girl Most Likely To...'

The Girl Most Likely to

Channing starred as Miriam, a "homely," brilliant girl who is bullied in college for her looks, in this 1973 TV movie that put her on the map. After an accident causes her to undergo plastic surgery, she emerges jaw-droppingly beautiful, and proceeds to take her revenge on the people who had previously made her suffer.

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Stockard Channing as Rizzo in 'Grease'


Five years later, Channing skyrocketed to stardom as Rizzo, the edgy and jaded leader of the Pink Ladies in Grease. Starring alongside Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in the movie musical, the actress famously showed off her pipes with the emotional ballad "There Are Worse Things I Could Do."

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Stockard Channing in 'Heartburn'


Channing played Julie in 1986's Heartburn, a friend of a food writer (Meryl Streep) and a womanizing D.C. columnist (Jack Nicholson) going through an acrimonious divorce, based on the Nora Ephron novel.

"All we have, especially as film actors, is the process of the day: you work on the scene and do the scene. And so it's really important and satisfying to work with people of such caliber," Channing told The New York Times of working alongside Streep and Nicholson.

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Stockard Channing's Love Life

Stockard Channing and David Debin
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

The actress has been married four times: to Walter Channing Jr., from 1964 to 1967; Paul Schmidt, from 1969 to 1976; David Debin (pictured here with her at The China Syndrome premiere in 1979) from 1976 to 1980; and David Rawle, from 1982 to 1988.

Speaking about her relationships to The Guardian in 2006, she explained, "What have I learned from my divorces? I know that nobody gets married to get divorced. I don't think I'll get married another time."

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Stockard Channing's First Big Award

Stockard Channing

The actress received the 1979 People's Choice Award for best supporting actress for her beloved turn as Rizzo in mega-hit Grease.

Channing has been nominated for and won numerous awards for her work through the years, with two Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild awards, a Tony and more to her name.

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Stockard Channing's Sitcom

Stockard Channing

Here, Channing posed for a promotional shot for her eponymous sitcom, The Stockard Channing Show, which ran for one season in 1980 and saw the actress portraying a divorcée named Susan Goodenow.

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Stockard Channing at the Met Gala

Stockard Channing David Rawle
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

Here, Channing dressed to the nines with her fourth husband, businessman David Rawle, for the 14th Annual Met Gala, themed "Costumes of India," in New York City in 1985.

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Stockard Channing's Oscar Nomination 'Six Degrees of Separation'

Six Degrees Of Separation

Channing was nominated for Best Actress at the 1994 Academy Awards for her memorable role in Six Degrees of Separation.

Will Smith, who starred alongside her in the film, has spoken out about how he fell in love with Channing while filming due to method acting.

"With Six Degrees of Separation, I got a taste early of the dangers of going too far for a character," he told the Esquire in 2015. "My character was in love with Stockard Channing's character. And I actually fell in love with Stockard Channing."

"Well, I'm very flattered," Channing responded to Page Six. "That's a wonderful thing . . . I adored him from the first time I laid eyes on him because I thought he was genuinely sweet. I felt very protective of him, because it was his first big job. It's amazing for me to hear that he felt that way, I'm delighted."

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Stockard Channing's Lasting Love

Stockard Channing and Daniel Gillham
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

After her four marriages, Channing met cinematographer Daniel Gillham, whom she has been dating since the early '90s.

Speaking to The Guardian in 2006, Channing revealed she didn't see herself ever marrying again. "I've been living with my partner [Gillham] for over 20 years, so... It would feel quite silly, actually."

Here, she's pictured with her longtime love in 1993, at the premiere party for her film Six Degrees of Separation at Tavern on the Green in N.Y.C.

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Stockard Channing's Many Roles

Married To It

With 97 acting credits to her name, it's hard to pick Channing's most notable roles. Here, she's seen toasting costars Mary Stuart Masterson and Cybill Shepherd in a scene from 1991's Married To It.

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Stockard Channing's Movies in the 2000s

Julia Stiles and Stockard Channing
Bill Davila/FilmMagic

The actress starred alongside Julia Stiles in 2001's drama The Business of Strangers, for which she won a London Film Critics' Circle Award for actress of the year.

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Stockard Channing on 'The West Wing'

Michael O'Neil/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty

Besides her role in Grease, Channing is best known for her 7-year turn as Dr. Abbey Bartlet in The West Wing, from 1999-2006. As First Lady to President Jed Barlet (Martin Sheen), Channing was Emmy nominated for best supporting actress six times.

She took home the award in 2002; that same year, she also won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a miniseries or movie for her turn in NBC's The Matthew Shepard Story.

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Stockard Channing at the 2000 Emmys

Stockard Channing

Celebrating the first of her six nominations for best supporting actress in a drama series for her role in The West Wing, Channing was a vision in red at 2000 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

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Stockard Channing on 'The Good Wife'

stockard channing - the good wife
Paul Sarkis/CBS via Getty

Channing's most recent recurring TV role was as Veronica Loy on The Good Wife, in which she played the protagonist's mom over the course of 13 episodes from 2012 until 2016.

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Stockard Channing in Theater

"Apologia" Broadway Photo Call
Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

The Tony-winning actress reprised her starring role as Kristin Miller, a 1960s political activist who is facing repercussions of her past, in the Alexi Kaye Campbell play Apologia. After a successful run in London, the play debuted at the Roundabout Theater Company in September 2018. Here, Channing is pictured with Hugh Dancy, who played the double role of her two sons.

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