Kate Nelligan

Kate Nelligan
Born Patricia Colleen Nelligan
(1950-03-16) March 16, 1950
London, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actress
Years active 19732010
Spouse(s) Robert Reale (1989–unknown; divorced; 1 child)

Patricia Colleen Nelligan (born March 16, 1950) is a Canadian stage, film and television actress, known professionally as Kate Nelligan. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1991 film The Prince of Tides, and the same year won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Frankie and Johnny. She is also a four-time Tony Award nominee for her work on Broadway, receiving nominations for Plenty (1983), A Moon for the Misbegotten (1984), Serious Money (1988) and Spoils of War (1989).

Early life

Nelligan, the fourth of six children, was born in London, Ontario, the daughter of Patrick Joseph Nelligan and his wife Josephine Alice (née Deir). Her father was a factory repairman and municipal employee in charge of ice rinks and recreational parks, and her mother was a schoolteacher.[1]

Her mother, whom Nelligan has described as "very powerful, very brilliant and very, very crazy",[2] suffered from alcohol abuse and other psychological problems, and was subsequently institutionalized.[3] Nelligan attended London South Collegiate Institute in London, Ontario, then studied at Glendon College in Toronto, but did not graduate.[4] Instead, she switched to studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, UK.


In 1973 she made her professional stage debut, in Bristol, England, while appearing in a regular role in the British television series The Onedin Line. In 1974 she was invited to London to play the part of Jenny in David Hare's play Knuckle at the Comedy Theatre, followed by a season with the National Theatre Company playing Ellie in Heartbreak House. 1975 saw her appear opposite Anthony Hopkins in the televised play The Arcata Promise followed by the televised theatrical version of The Count of Monte Cristo that featured an all-star cast of British and American actors. That same year her first feature-length film The Romantic Englishwoman was released.

In 1977, again with the National Theatre, she gave a "stunning" performance as Marianne, opposite Stephen Rea, in Tales from the Vienna Woods directed by Maximilian Schell.[5] Also in 1977, she played the part of Rosalind in As You Like It, directed by Terry Hands, opposite Peter McEnery in Stratford-upon-Avon and the following year in London. This she followed with Plenty, another play from David Hare, at the National Theatre, for which she received a 1978 Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a New Play. The winner was Joan Plowright in Filumena.[6] She was cast in a similar role, playing opposite Bill Paterson, in Hare's BAFTA-award-winning companion play Licking Hitler, for BBC television.[7]

Again on screen, in 1978 she played the part of Isabella in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure, a performance that led the New York Times to describe her as providing "the image of idealized faultlessness".[8] In 1979 she was the female lead alongside Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier in Dracula. In 1981 she starred opposite fellow Canadian Donald Sutherland in Eye of the Needle, a wartime espionage thriller based on the Ken Follett best-selling novel. Two years later Nelligan moved to New York City, where she earned nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actress in a Play three times and one Featured Actress in a Play between 1983 and 1989 for the five Broadway plays in which she appeared.[9]

In 1991 she won a BAFTA for "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" for her performance in Frankie and Johnny.[10] For her performance in the 1991 film The Prince of Tides she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. [11] Between 1987 and 2004 she was nominated for five Gemini Awards for her performances in Canadian television mini-series and films and won twice, both in 1993.[12] In 1996 she played the wife of James Mink in the CBS television film Captive Heart: The James Mink Story.[13]

Selected roles

Filmography (features and television)

Broadway plays

Awards and nominations

Year Award Nominated work Result
1978 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a New Play Plenty Nominated
1979 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress Measure for Measure Nominated
1980 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress Dreams of Leaving / Therese Raquin / Forgive Our Foolish Ways Nominated
1983 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Plenty Nominated
1984 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play A Moon for the Misbegotten Nominated
1988 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play Serious Money Nominated
1989 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Spoils of War Nominated
1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Road to Avonlea Nominated
1990 Genie Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role White Room Nominated
1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress The Prince of Tides Nominated
1991 BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Frankie and Johnny Won
1993 Gemini Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series The Diamond Fleece Won
1995 Genie Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Margaret's Museum Won


  1. Kate Nelligan profile, filmreference.com; accessed February 16, 2015.
  2. Bored with being a lady, actress Kate Nelligan gets down to earthy People Weekly, 1992-01-27.
  3. Kate Nelligan Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  4. Senior Executive Cites Liberal Arts Education for Success Glendon
  5. Barber, John (April 30, 1979). "Attacking the NT with ink-balls". The Times. London. p. 10.
  6. "The Nominees and Winners of The Laurence Olivier Awards for 1978". Official London Theatre Guide. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  7. Lawson, Mark (1999-05-03). "Splitting Hares". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
  8. "Measure for Measure", Liner notes, The Shakespeare Collection, BBC DVD, originally broadcast February 18, 1979.
  9. "Kate Nelligan Broadway" playbill.com (vault), accessed March 11, 2016
  10. "'Frankie and Johnny' Awards" allmovie.com, accessed March 12, 2016
  11. The Prince of Tides tcm.com, accessed March 11, 2016
  12. "Gemini Awards, Kate Nelligan" academy.ca, accessed March 11, 2016
  13. O'Connor, John J. "Slavery as Experienced By a Mixed-Race Couple" The New York Times, April 12, 1996
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