Childhood & Early Life
She was born on February 17, 1935, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, to Arthur Pickles and his wife, Gladys (née Crampton) Pickles. Her father was a British architect and ‘Liberal Party’ politician who served as the ‘Mayor of Halifax’ for a year.
At age 15, she enrolled at the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’ in London, England. Her classmates included Brian Bedford, Peter O’Toole, and Albert Finney. Following her graduation in the late 1950s, she relocated to New York City, where she lived with her classmate and friend Donald Moffat and his wife.
English actor and radio presenter Wilfred Pickles was her uncle. Her brother James Pickles was an English barrister and circuit judge. Carolyn Pickles, her niece, is also an English actor.
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She began her acting career in 1961 with the play ‘Look Back in Anger,’ staged at the ‘Arena Stage’ in Washington DC. She appeared in the William Shakespeare play ‘Measure for Measure,’ staged at the outdoor festival ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ and originally conceived by theatrical director–producer Joseph Papp.
She auditioned for the role of a maid in the play ‘The Way of the World’ by George Devine and ended up playing the lead role.
She made her ‘Broadway’ debut in 1964 with the play ‘A Severed Head,’ adapted from Iris Murdoch’s 1961 novel of the same name. She went on to perform in other ‘Broadway’ productions such as ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Inadmissible Evidence,’ ‘War and Peace,’ ‘You Can't Take It with You,’ and ‘The Misanthrope.’
She made her TV debut in 1970 with the American soap opera ‘Guiding Light,’ in which she played the role of ‘Linell Conway’ till sometime in 1972.
Her first feature film was the 1974 Canadian–American black comedy ‘Seizure,’ where she essayed the part of ‘Nicole Blackstone.’ It marked the directorial debut of Oliver Stone, an ‘Academy Award’-winning American writer and filmmaker.
The famous American TV soap opera ‘Another World,’ which aired on ‘NBC’ for over three decades from May 1964, saw her playing ‘Countess Elena DePoulignac’ from 1977 to 1979.
Moving on, she featured as one of the main characters in the film ‘Rush It’ (1978) and appeared in one-episode roles in the series The White Shadow’ (1981) and ‘Lou Grant’ (1982). Following this, she landed up with her big break, playing ‘Nurse Helen Rosenthal’ in the American medical drama ‘St. Elsewhere.’
‘St. Elsewhere’ ran on ‘NBC’ from October 26, 1982, to May 25, 1988, and earned 13 ‘Emmy’ awards. Christina featured in the series in all its six seasons, encompassing 137 episodes. It garnered her widespread recognition, apart from fetching her five ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series’ nominations.
Meanwhile, she continued with other film and TV roles, such as the 1984 American made-for-television Christmas drama ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,’ the 1987 American science-fantasy film ‘Masters of the Universe,’ where she played the ‘Sorceress of Castle Grayskull,’ and the 1988 American TV sitcom ‘Family Ties’ among others.
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Her next notable TV role was in the short-lived American sitcom ‘The People Next Door,’ which was featured on ‘CBS’ from September 18, 1989, to October 16, 1989.
Over the years, she featured in numerous TV films, such as ‘The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro’ (1989), ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’ (1997), and ‘Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery’ (1998). She also appeared in two short films, namely, ‘Poseidon's Fury: Escape from the Lost City’ (1999) and ‘Wild & Precious’ (2014).
Many of the TV series that she worked for featured her in one or two episodes. Christina earned the recurring role of ‘Judy Geller’ in the popular American TV sitcom ‘Friends.’ It ran on ‘NBC’ for ten seasons, from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004. The show featured Christina in all its ten seasons, for a total of 19 episodes. The role brought her a nomination for the ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series’ in 1995.
The Edward Zwick-directed 1994 blockbuster historical drama ‘Legends of the Fall,’ starring Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, and Anthony Hopkins among others, featured her in the role of ‘Isabel Ludlow.’
She played ‘Caroline Montague,’ in the 1996 American romantic drama ‘Romeo + Juliet,’ an adaptation and modernization of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ This critically acclaimed film, co-written, directed, and co-produced by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in titular roles, became a huge success at the box office, grossing $147.5 million.
She lent her voice as ‘Elsie’ in the direct-to-video animated musical ‘The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island,’ which released on December 10, 1997.
The Adam Sandler-starrer romantic comedy ‘The Wedding Singer,’ which had a theatrical release on February 13, 1998, featured her in the role of ‘Angie Sullivan.’ In the ensuing years, she went on to appear in several other films, including ‘Valerie Flake’(1999), ‘George of the Jungle 2’ (2003), ‘Atlas Shrugged: Part I’ (2011), and ‘Live at the Foxes Den’ (2013).
Meanwhile, she continued with her small-screen pursuits that included playing ‘Elizabeth Parker’ in the American comedy–drama series ‘Get Real’. The series starred Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, and Eric Christian Olsen and aired on the ‘Fox Network’ from September 8, 1999, to April 12, 2000. She also made guest appearances in series such as ‘The Division’ (2004) and ‘Medium’ (2006).
She married producer and director Victor Lobl in 1962. Soon, the couple had two children, Oliver and Rebecca, but they separated in 1985.
In 1989, she became a US citizen.
Since the mid-1980s, she was romantically associated with American stage, film, and TV actor Herb Edelman, her co-star from ‘St. Elsewhere.’ Their relationship continued till Edelman’s death in July 1996.
In 2005, she married Australian journalist Ian Masters.