Childhood & Early Life
Rachel Ticotin was born on November 1, 1958, in the Bronx, New York City, to Iris Torres and Abe Ticotin. She is of Puerto Rican and Russian Jewish descent. Her father worked as a used-car salesman in the Bronx, while her mother was an educator.
Rachel grew up in a huge family with four siblings. She was interested in dancing and acting ever since she was a kid. She started taking ballet classes at the age of 8, and around the same time, she also started acting in various theatrical productions.
At the age of 10, she performed her first major stage play in New York City’s ‘City Center Theatre.’ She played the role of a Siamese princess in the play titled ‘The King and I.’ She carried on with acting in the later years of her high school as well.
At the age of 12, her skills in ballet had become phenomenal. She was enrolled at the prestigious ‘Ballet Hispanico’ in New York. As part of the troupe, she worked along with famous ballet choreographers such as Anna Sokolow, Geoffrey Holder, and Alvin Ailey. Simultaneously, she also resumed her education and graduated high school.
She attended ‘Yale University’ following her high-school graduation and became actively involved in professional acting, making her screen debut at the age of 20.
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She made her film debut with a small role of a gypsy dancer in the 1978 drama film titled ‘King of the Gypsies.’ The film was based on modern-day gypsies in New York, and Rachel got the role mostly due to her dance skills.
For the next few years, in the absence of better TV and film roles, Rachel turned to stage yet again and played a key role in the ‘off-Broadway’ production of ‘The Sun Always Shines for the Cool.’ During the late 1970s, she also worked as a production assistant to Brian de Palma for the film ‘Dressed to Kill.’
She got her first major film role by a stroke of luck. She was working as a production assistant for the 1981 crime-drama film ‘Fort Apache, The Bronx’ along with her brother. She was eventually offered the supporting role of ‘Isabella,’ Paul Newman’s love interest in the film. She accepted the role. The film released in 1981, becoming an instant commercial and critical success.
However, her film career did not take off. She turned to TV, and in 1983, she appeared in the TV film titled ‘For Love and Honor,’ playing ‘Grace Pavlik,’ one of the leading roles in the film. The film was a success and was later turned into a series of the same name. Rachel reprised her role in the series, too, and appeared in 12 episodes, before the series was canceled.
In 1987, she was offered the role of ‘Rachel Atwood,’ the female lead, in the comedy film titled ‘Critical Condition.’ The film received a big release but was a critical and a commercial failure. Soon, Rachel appeared as ‘Asst. U.S. Atty. Teresa Storm,’ one of the main characters in the TV series ‘Ohara.’
In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, she appeared in a slew of TV films, such as ‘Spies, Lies & Naked Things’ (as ‘Sonia’) and ‘Keep the Change’ (as ‘Astrid’).
In 1990, however, she bagged a huge project, namely, the science-fiction/action film titled ‘Total Recall.’ The film featured her as ‘Melina,’ a leading role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film was a huge critical and a commercial success.
In 1994, she voiced the character of ‘Captain Maria Chavez’ in 12 episodes of the ‘Disney’ animated series ‘Gargoyles.’ The same year, she was supposed to play a guest role (‘Wanda Bisbing’) in the Oliver Stone-directed film ‘Natural Born Killers.’ However, her role was deleted from the final cut. In 1996, she reprised her voice role of ‘Capt. Maria Chavez’ in three episodes of the series ‘Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles.’
In the mid- to the late 1990s, Rachel appeared in films such as ‘Steal Big Steal Little’ (as ‘Laura Martinez’), ‘Turbulence’ (as ‘Rachel Taper’), and ‘Civility’ (as ‘Rebecca Russo’). She also appeared in the 1997 film ‘Con Air,’ which featured her in the role of ‘Guard Sally Bishop.’ The film was an average critical success but a huge commercial success.
In the early 2000s, she was seen playing supporting roles in series such as ‘American Family’ (as ‘Vangie Gonzalez’) and ‘Skin’ (as ‘Laura Roam’). She also appeared in films such as ‘Desert Saints’ (as ‘Dora’) and ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ (as ‘Dr. Martinez’). However, she failed to get better roles and continued playing supporting roles in average-sized productions.
In 2010, she appeared in a recurring role in the police-procedural series titled ‘Law & Order: LA.’ The series featured her in the role of ‘Lt. Arleen Gonzalez.’ She also appeared in ‘Lost’ (as ‘Capt. Teresa Cortez’) and ‘Weeds’ (as ‘Candela’). More recently, she was seen as ‘Mercedes’ in the series ‘Homeland’ in 2017 and as ‘Dr. Marie Cerone’ in three episodes of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in 2018.
She has also appeared in films such as ‘The Burning Plain’ (as ‘Ana’) and ‘America’ (as ‘Esther’) of late.
Awards and Achievements
In 1991, she was nominated for a ‘Saturn Award’ for the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for ‘Total Recall.’
In 1998, she was nominated for two ‘ALMA Awards,’ one for ‘Outstanding Actress in a Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series’ for ‘First Time Felon’ and the other for ‘Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film’ for ‘Con Air.’ The same year, she was nominated for the ‘Blockbuster Entertainment Award’ for ‘Favorite Supporting Actress in an Action/Adventure Film’ for ‘Con Air.’
Family & Personal Life
Most members of Rachel Ticotin’s family have been working in the entertainment industry. Her sister, Nancy, is an actor, while one of her three brothers, David, is an assistant director in Hollywood. Daniel, another brother of hers, is a musician who uses the stage name “Sahaj” and is the lead singer of the rock group ‘Ra.’
Rachel married actor David Caruso in 1984. They divorced in 1987. They had a daughter, Greta, in June, 1984. Rachel then married actor Peter Strauss in 1998, and the couple has been together ever since.