Mel Harris

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Mel Harris
Born Mary Ellen Harris
(1956-07-12) July 12, 1956 (age 64)
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Occupation Actress
Spouse(s) David Silbergeld (1978–79)
Brian Kilcommons (1980–82)
David Hume Kennerly (1983–88)
Cotter Smith (1988–96)
Michael Toomey (2001–06)

Mary Ellen "Mel" Harris (born July 12, 1956) is an American actress. Beyond film roles, Mel Harris is well known for roles in several TV series, including thirtysomething (1987–1991), Something So Right (1996–1998) and Stargate SG-1. She has also been a guest star in several other productions.


Personal life

Harris was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the daughter to Mary Michael "Mike", a high school science teacher, and Warren Harris, football coach at Bethlehem High School and Princeton University.[1] Harris grew up in North Brunswick, New Jersey[2] and graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1974.[3]

Her five marriages (in chronological order) include: David Silbergeld (1978–79), Brian Kilcommons (1980–82), photographer David Hume Kennerly (1983–88) (with whom she had son Byron in 1984), actor Cotter Smith (1988–96) (with whom she had daughter Madeline in April 1990) and investment banker Michael Toomey. Harris and Toomey were married May 26, 2001, but he filed for divorce on October 3, 2006.


Before finding success as an actress, Harris had appeared as a contestant on the game show Pyramid on two separate occasions: in 1979 on the ABC-TV daytime version known as The $20,000 Pyramid, and in 1985 on the syndicated version known as The $100,000 Pyramid, both versions hosted by Dick Clark. She later appeared as a celebrity on the third week of the The $100,000 Pyramid hosted by John Davidson in 1991, with a clip of her big win in 1985 as shown in a flashback clip.

Harris is perhaps best known for her role as Hope Murdoch Steadman on the popular 1980s television show thirtysomething (1987–1991). She also had a starring role in the 1988 horror film Cameron's Closet. In 1989, Harper's Bazaar named her one of "America's 10 Most Beautiful Women". That same year, she appeared in K-9, along with James Belushi and dog actor "Jerry Lee". In 1993, she played Dr. Renee Descartes in the film Suture. From 1996 to 1998, she starred with Jere Burns on the NBC sitcom Something So Right.

In addition, Harris has appeared in a number of other television programs including The West Wing, Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest, Dawson's Creek, Touched by an Angel and House. She played real-life victim Madge Oberholtzer in the TV mini-series Cross of Fire (1989) and starred in the Scott Turow legal thriller The Burden of Proof in 1992. She had a recurring role on Stargate SG-1 as Oma Desala.

Harris guest-starred on the Close to Home episode "Maternal Instinct" that aired April 6, 2007 on CBS. She played Beth Murphy, mother of Eric Murphy, who was convicted of killing his father (Beth's husband) and attempting to kill her as well. Harris played Sylvia Capshaw on the MyNetworkTV limited-run serial Saints & Sinners.


  1. Mel Harris Biography (1957–)
  2. Gold, Todd. "Yuppie Babies, Beaus and Tales of Woe on Thirtysomething Plunk a Responsive Chord for Mel Harris", People (magazine), October 26, 1987. Accessed January 30, 2013. "She learned that the hard way. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., and raised in North Brunswick, N.J., Harris says that her parents' home was loveless long before their divorce in 1969."
  3. The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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