Katherine Kiernan Maria, better known as Kate Mulgrew, is a popular American actress who has performed for over 40 years on various theatre shows, films and television. She is equally adapted to comedy and drama as is evident from the varied roles played by her. However, her first love has always been theatre and her husky voice has been her trademark, which she has lent for voiceovers in animation films and video games. She made her name initially with her role as Mary Ryan on the daytime serial ‘Ryan’s Hope’ and is best known for the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway on ‘Star Trek Voyager’. She was strongly influenced by her mother who died due to Alzheimer’s when she was young. This prompted her to be an active member of the Alzheimer’s Association National Advisory Council and Cleveland’s Metro Health System, where she has delivered several talks. She is also vocal about her opposition to abortion and capital punishment and is of the strong catholic belief that all forms of human life are to be respected.
Childhood & Early Life
Kate Mulgrew was born Katherine Kiernan Maria Mulgrew on April 29, 1955 in Dubuque to Thomas James Mulgrew and Joan Virginia. She was the eldest daughter of an Irish Catholic family of eight children. Her father was a contractor and her mother an artist and painter. At the age of 12 she showed interest in acting and joined summer acting school with encouragement from her mother.
At the age of 16 she successfully auditioned for the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, but was disappointed to be told that she was too young to join the academy.
She completed her schooling from the Wahlert High School in Dubuque, Iowa and went on to join the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting in conjunction with New York University, which she left after a year. During this period she was employed as a waitress in order to make some pocket money. She earned an associate’s degree and dropped out from university in order to pursue a career in acting.
She is still associated with her role as Mary Ryan in the ABC soap ‘Ryan’s Hope’, in which she acted for two years in her early career in the mid 70’s. Her co-star Ilene Kristen has remained her close friend since then. She also had a role in the American Shakespeare Theatre production, ‘Our Town’ in Stratford Connecticut during this period.
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Mulgrew started her career in the entertainment world at a young age and portrayed the image of a no nonsense girl in most of her roles. She is known for her husky voice. In 1979, she acted in ‘Mrs Columbo’, which was a spin off from a popular detective series, made specifically to suit her image. The show lasted 13 episodes.
In 1981, she played the role of an Irish princess in the love triangle ‘Lovespell’ alongside Richard Burton and Nicholas Clay. This was followed by her role as Major Fleming in ‘Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins’.
‘Murder She Wrote’ was a gripping popular serial in which she played the role of an opera star who murders her husband and then makes an alibi.
Her role in ‘Star Trek Voyager’ brought her fame and made history as she became the first female captain in a series regular role. The show ran on UPN channel for seven seasons, making it the longest running show on UPN.
Mulgrew was awarded the ‘Saturn Award’ for ‘Best TV Actress’ in 1998 for her performance as Janeway in the serial. She also voiced the character of Janeway in various Star Trek video games and appeared at Star Trek conventions around the world.
After seven seasons of ‘Voyager’ she returned to theatre and starred in the one women play ‘Tea at Five’, which was a great success. She also continued doing voice over work for video games during this period.
In 2006 she returned to Television and appeared in the serial ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ and performed in ‘The Exonerated’ at the Riverside Studios in London. The following year saw her as Helen Donnelly in the serial ‘The Black Donnellys’ and an off-Broadway production ‘Our Leading Lady’ for which she was nominated for the ‘Drama League’.
In 2008 she acted the part of ‘Hester Salomon’ in the Broadway play ‘Equus’ and the short film ‘The Response’ based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay tribunals. She then got back to television and appeared in the NBC medical serial ‘Mercy’.
Her association with the ‘Star Trek’ franchise continued with her role in the documentary ‘The Captains’ written and directed by William Shatner and the science fiction series ‘Warehouse 13’.
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She was nominated for her first Primetime Emmy Award in 2014 for her role in the series ‘Orange is the New Black’.
With her husky voice she has done many voiceovers for animation films and video games. The villainous Red Claw opposite Catwoman in three episodes of Batman and the video game ‘Run Like Hell’ have been voiced by her.
In her interviews she has expressed that she would love to continue with Star Trek Voyager in case the series is restarted.
Her major roles in films include ‘Lovespell’, ‘A Stranger is Watching’, ‘Round Numbers’, ‘Camp Nowhere’, ‘Star Trek Nemesis’ and ‘Star Trek The Experience – Borg Invasion 4D’.
Her popular television shows are ‘Ryan’s Hope’, ‘Dallas’, ‘A Time for Miracles’, ‘Jessie’, ‘My Town’, ‘Murder She Wrote’, ‘Roots : The Gift’ and ‘Star Trek Voyager’.
Her theatre work was mainly in New York and Loss Angles, where she acted in the plays ‘Our Town’, ‘Major Barbara’, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, ‘Measure for Measure’ and ‘What the Butler Saw’.
Awards & Achievements
She was nominated for the ‘Golden Globe Award’ for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her role as Mrs Columbo in 1980 and won the ‘Tracy Humanitarian Award’ and ‘Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television in 1992 and 1998 respectively.
She went on to win the ‘Carbonell Award for Best Actress’ (Touring, Independent Production-Cuillo Centre) for her role in ‘Tea at Five’, ‘Obie Award, for Outstanding Performance in ‘Iphigenia’ and ‘Satellite Award’ for Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black’.
She received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for Artistic Contribution from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
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Personal Life & Legacy
Kate had her first child before marriage, whom she gave up for adoption during her early career.
She has two children from her marriage with Robert H Egan, whom she married in 1982 and divorced after eleven years of staying together. She dated Star Trek Voyager director Winrich Kolbe for some time thereafter.
She later married former commissioner of Cuyahoga County, Tim Hagan, to whom she was introduced to by her mother. However, she again went in for a divorce which she confessed to regret. She had two stepdaughters from her second marriage.
Her mother died in 2006 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, which prompted Kate to become an active member of the National Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association. She has raised millions of dollars for research and continues to speak passionately about the disease and the need to find a cure.
She opposes abortion and capital punishment saying that life is sacred in all forms and execution as a form of punishment is as barbaric as abortion.
Mulgrew released her biography, ‘Born With Teeth’, in 2015 which is about her Irish – Catholic background and career in acting. She talks of being an unmarried mother and her later reunion with the child.
Her biological daughter, Danielle, works as a yoga instructor and has remained in contact with Mulgrew.
She was a close friend of late John Kennedy Junior and attended his funeral with her husband Tim Hagan.
Her husband, Hagan, ran as the Democratic candidate for the post of Governor of Ohio in the November 2002 elections, but did not get elected.
She has a house in Brentwood, California and a Labrador called Gracie. Her net worth is $ 5 million.