Kristy McNichol

Christina Ann McNichol (born September 11, 1962) is an American actress, comedian, producer, and singer.[1]

Kristy McNichol
McNichol on the set of Family in 1977
Christina Ann McNichol

(1962-09-11) September 11, 1962
OccupationActress, singer, comedian, producer
Years active1970–1998
Spouse(s)Martie Allen

She is known for such roles as Angel in the film Little Darlings, Polly in the film Only When I Laugh, and Barbara Weston in the TV sitcom Empty Nest.[2] She won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of teenage daughter Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence in the TV drama Family.

Early life and career

McNichol was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of James and Carolyn McNichol. Her father was a carpenter and her mother worked odd jobs to support the family, including as a secretary, cosmetics salesperson, and movie extra. McNichol is half Irish on her father's side and her mother is of Lebanese descent.[3] She appeared with her brother Jimmy McNichol in commercials and later, on her own, in guest appearances on such other series as Starsky & Hutch; The Bionic Woman; Love, American Style; and The Love Boat, thanks to family friend Desi Arnaz. Her first stint as a series regular came in the role of Patricia Apple in the short-lived CBS television series Apple's Way (1974).

In 1976, she was cast as Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence in the television drama series Family (1976–80), for which she earned two Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series (1977 and 1979).[4]

In 1977, she appeared in the TV special The Carpenters at Christmas, performing several musical numbers with the duo. In 1978, Jimmy and she made their own foray into music, recording the album Kristy and Jimmy McNichol for RCA Records (AFL1-2875). It included the singles "He's So Fine" (a cover of The Chiffons' 1963 hit), which peaked at number 70 on the Billboard chart, and "Page By Page". The McNichols promoted the album at New York's Studio 54 discothèque with other celebrities, such as Brooke Shields. In 1978, McNichol performed with Jimmy in a second Carpenters' holiday special, The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait.

McNichol was one of the biggest teen stars of that era. She appeared on talk shows such as The Mike Douglas Show and Dinah!, and made several appearances on Battle of the Network Stars and other celebrity-based sports shows. In 1978, she starred in the acclaimed TV movie, Summer of My German Soldier.[5]

McNichol began her film career in 1977, in Black Sunday, but her scenes were cut during editing. In 1978, she starred with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in the black comedy, The End.[6]

In 1980, she played the leading role in the hit coming-of-age movie Little Darlings, which co-starred Tatum O'Neal, Matt Dillon, and Cynthia Nixon. Her performance was acclaimed by many reviewers, including those who disliked the film itself.[7] Later in 1980, she appeared with Dennis Quaid and Mark Hamill in The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, for which she received a six-figure salary—unprecedented for a teenager. In 1981, she co-starred in Neil Simon's Only When I Laugh, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.[8]

McNichol was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her performance in the 1982 movie The Pirate Movie.[9] That same year, she suffered an emotional breakdown while playing the lead role in the comedy-drama Just the Way You Are; filming had to be interrupted for a year. She later said that the breakdown had been caused by the pressures of her childhood career.[10] as well as the pressure to hide her sexuality from the public.

In 1986, McNichol appeared in Women of Valor, a TV movie about American nurses in a World War II Japanese POW camp. She made two theatrical films in 1988, You Can't Hurry Love and Two Moon Junction. In the same year, she began the role of Barbara Weston on Empty Nest, a spin-off of The Golden Girls. She left the show in 1992, but returned for its final episode in 1995. It was her last on-screen performance, though she went on to voice characters in the animated TV series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997) and Invasion America (1998).[11]

After acting life

In June 2001, McNichol announced that she had retired from acting. Her publicist released this statement:

A lot of people have wondered what I've been up to. I retired from my career after 24 years. My feeling was that it was time to play my biggest part – myself! I must say that it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. So many fans are disappointed that I'm not currently acting; however, some may not realize that the process I'm in at this time is necessary and vital for my personal happiness and well-being.[12]

After her retirement, McNichol taught acting at a private school in Los Angeles and devoted much of her time to charity work.[13] In 2012, McNichol ended years of speculation when she revealed that she is a lesbian and has lived with her partner for almost two decades. She made the statement in the hopes that her openness would help young people who are bullied because of their sexuality.[14][11]



Year Title Role Notes
1977 Black Sunday Unknown In scenes deleted during editing
1978 The End Julie Lawson
1978 Like Mom, Like Me Jennifer Gruen Television movie
1978 Summer of My German Soldier Patty Bergen Television movie
1979 My Old Man Jo Butler Television movie
1980 Little Darlings Angel Bright Her first leading role in a theatrical film
1980 Blinded by the Light Janet Bowers Television movie
1981 The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia Amanda Child
1981 Only When I Laugh Polly Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1982 White Dog Julie Sawyer Unreleased in the United States
1982 The Pirate Movie Mabel
1982 Aladdin and the Magic Lamp The Princess Voice
1984 Just the Way You Are Susan Berlanger
1985 Love, Mary Mary Groda-Lewis Television movie
1986 Dream Lover Kathy Gardner
1986 Women of Valor T.J. Nolan Television movie
1988 You Can't Hurry Love Rhonda
1988 Two Moon Junction Patti Jean
1989 The Forgotten One Barbara Stupple Her last performance in a theatrically released film (as of 2018)
1990 Children of the Bride Mary Television movie
1991 Baby of the Bride Mary Television movie
1993 Mother of the Bride Mary Television movie


Year Title Role Notes
1973 Love, American Style Steffi Episode: "Love and the Unsteady Steady"
1974 Apple's Way Rachel Episode: "The Lamb" (1974)
1974–1975 Apple's Way Patricia Apple 15 episodes
1975 ABC Afterschool Special Jenna McPhail Episode: "Fawn Story"
1976 ABC Afterschool Special Nina Beckwith Episode: "Me & Dad's New Wife "
1976 Starsky & Hutch Meg Episode: "The Hostages"
1976 Sara Unknown Episode: "Grandpa's Girl"
1976 The Bionic Woman Amanda Cory Episode: "The Ghost Hunter"
1976 Starsky & Hutch Molly Edwards Episode: "Little Lost Girl"
1976–1980 Family Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence 86 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1977, 1979)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1977 The Love Boat Linda Morley Pilot Episode
1977 The Love Boat Kelly Episode: "Graham and Kelly"
1977 ABC Afterschool Special Carlie Higgins Episode: "The Pinballs"
1978 Starsky & Hutch Joey Carston Episode: "The Trap"
1988 Murder, She Wrote Jill Morton Episode: "Showdown in Saskatchewan"
1988–1995 Empty Nest Barbara Weston 100 episodes
1991–1992 The Golden Girls Barbara Weston Episodes: "Witness", "A Midwinter Night's Dream"
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Girl in Sub (voice) Episode: "Dry Spell"
1998 Invasion America Sgt. Angela "Angie" Romar 13 episodes



  1. "The New York Times". 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  2. Bloch, Jon P.; Naser, Jeffrey (2006). The Everything Health Guide To Adult Bipolar Disorder: Reassuring Advice to Help You Cope. Everything Books. p. 47. ISBN 9781605503417. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  3. Wu, Jessica. "Feed your Face".
  4. "Family (1976)", Internet Movie Database Archived 2014-06-21 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Summer of my German Soldier (1978)". Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  6. Kay, Glenn. "Blasts From the Past! Blu-ray Review: THE END (1978)". Cinemastance. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  7. Ebert, Roger. "Review of "Little Darlings"". Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  8. "Winners & Nominees : Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture 1982". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. "Razzie Awards - Awards for 1983"., Inc. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  10. Haller, Scot (1989-04-03). "Cover Story: 'I Was Crying All the Time' – Vol. 31 No. 13". PEOPLE. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  11. Jr, Patrick Hickey. "Kristy McNichol Comes Out of the Closet to Fight Bullying". NBC 6 South Florida. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  12. "Where Are They Now? Kristy McNichol". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  13. "Movies: Biography forKristy McNichol". The New York Times.
  14. "Kristy McNichol, 'Empty Nest' And 'Family' Actress, Comes Out As Lesbian In People Magazine". Huffington Post. January 7, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
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