Childhood & Early Life
She was born Elizabeth Natalie Schram, on July 17, 1968, in Mountainside, New Jersey, United States, to a tennis-player father and a banker mother. She was their second-born child, among their four children. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old.
She attended the ‘University of Maryland’ on a tennis scholarship, subsequently completing her graduation and obtaining a degree in advertising design.
She developed a passion for acting during her early days, and as she grew up she resolved to make a career in the world of glamour and entertainment.
Continue Reading Below
She made her debut on the big-screen with the American crime drama ‘Fathers & Sons.’ This Paul Mones-directed film, starring Jeff Goldblum and Rory Cochrane among others, featured Bitty in the role of ‘Terry.’ It released in January 1992 and was showcased at the 18th ‘Moscow International Film Festival.’
Her second film, the Penny Marshall-directed American sports comedy–drama ‘A League of Their Own,’ proved to be her real breakthrough and garnered initial recognition. This critically acclaimed film, where she played ‘Evelyn Gardner,’ a right fielder of ‘Rockford Peaches,’ released on July 1, 1992, and grossed $132.4 million worldwide. The famous line "There’s no crying in baseball!" uttered by Tom Hanks, playing manager ‘Jimmy Dugan’ in the film, was addressed to her character.
The 1993 American romantic-comedy film ‘The Night We Never Met,’ featured her as a pharmacy clerk. The film was directed by Warren Leight and had Matthew Broderick, Kevin Anderson, and Annabella Sciorra in starring roles. The same year, she played ‘Young Alexandra’ in the film ‘My Family Treasure.’
She portrayed the role of ‘Helen’ in the original ‘Broadway’ production of Neil Simon's play ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ that opened at the ‘Richard Rodgers Theatre’ on November 22, 1993. Directed by Jerry Zaks, the play ran for 320 performances and 24 previews and ended on August 27, 1994.
Moving on with other films, she made her TV debut with the 1995 movie ‘Long Island Fever,’ directed by Stephen Surjik. She played ‘Penny’ in the movie, which also had John C. McGinley, Eric Close, and Austin Pendleton in the cast.
In 1996, she appeared as ‘Amy’ in the erotic thriller ‘Caught,’ as ‘Lauren’ in the romantic comedy ‘The Pallbearer,’ as ‘Janine’ in the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer drama ‘Marvin's Room,’ and as ‘Marla’ in the romantic comedy ‘One Fine Day,’ starring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney.’
She landed up with the starring role of ‘Hallie Marrs’ in the 1998 psychological drama ‘Cleopatra's Second Husband.’ The film was written, produced, and directed by Jon Reiss and also had Paul Hipp, Radha Mitchell, and Boyd Kestner in starring roles. It was screened at various film festivals, including the ‘Montreal World Film Festival,’ the ‘Seattle International Film Festival,’ and the ‘Los Angeles Independent Film Festival’ among others.
She continued with her TV pursuits with appearances in series such as ‘G vs E’ (1999), ‘Strong Medicine’ (2001), and ‘Felicity’ (2001–02). She also featured in the TV film ‘Destiny’ (2001), before earning the major role of ‘Sharona Fleming’ in the American comedy–drama detective TV series ‘Monk.’ The series, which had Tony Shalhoub playing the titular role, aired on ‘USA Network’ for 8 seasons, from July 12, 2002, to December 4, 2009.
Her character of ‘Sharona Fleming’ in ‘Monk’ was that of a divorced single mother and a licensed vocational nurse from New Jersey. The character first appeared in the two-part pilot episode of the series, titled ‘Mr. Monk and the Candidate,’ that aired on July 12, 2002. Her last appearance as a series regular was in the 9th episode of the third season, titled ‘Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine,’ that aired on August 20, 2004. She appeared in a guest role in the final season of the series, in the episode ‘Mr. Monk and Sharona,’ aired on October 23, 2009.
Her brilliant performance as ‘Sharona Fleming’ in ‘Monk’ earned her a nomination for the ‘Best Actress in a TV Series—Comedy or Musical’ award at the 2004 ‘Golden Globe Awards.’
Regarding her sudden exit from ‘Monk’ in the middle of its third season, the network mentioned that they "decided to go in a different creative direction with some of its characters." However, according to ‘MSNBC,’ "some members of the series' supporting cast, including Schram, Ted Levine, and Jason Gray–Stanford, attempted to renegotiate the terms of their contract[s]." They cited that Bitty’s exit from the show validated the industry's "hard line against raise-seeking actors who aren't absolutely essential to the show."
Other works of Bitty include her roles in films such as ‘Unconditional Love’ (2002), ‘A-List’ (2006), and ‘Moments of Clarity’ (2016); in TV series such as ‘Kitchen Confidential’ (2005); in the TV miniseries ‘Thief’ (2006); and in the TV film ‘You've Got a Friend’ (2007).