Meredith Baxter is an American actress from California, better known for television roles. Her most famous roles include Catholic teacher Bridget Fitzgerald in the sitcom "Bridget Loves Bernie" (1972-1973), divorced mother Nancy Lawrence in the family-themed drama "Family" (1976-1980), and architect Elyse Keaton in the sitcom "Family Ties" (1982-1989).In 1947, Baxter was born in South Pasadena, California. South Pasadena is a small city in Los Angeles County, located within San Gabriel Valley. The larger city of Pasadena is located north of Baxter's hometown. Baxter was the daughter of radio announcer Tom Baxter (John Thomas Baxter, Jr.) and actress Whitney Blake (1926-2002). Baxter's maternal grandfather was Harry C. Whitney, an agent of the United States Secret Service. Harry Whitney had served as a bodyguard to President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924, term 1913-1921).In 1953, Baxter's parents divorced. Whitney Blake received custody of Baxter and her two older brothers. In 1957, Blake married talent agent Jack Fields. This marriage ended in divorce in 1967. In 1968, Blake married television writer Allan Manings (1924-2010). This marriage lasted until Blake's death in 2002. Baxter reportedly maintained a familial relationship with her second stepfather until his own death.Baxter received part of her secondary education at James Monroe High School, located in the neighborhood of Sepulveda (later renamed to North Hills) in Los Angeles. She later transferred to Hollywood High School. She graduated in 1965. During her senior year, Baxter also received voice lessons at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Interlochen was an arts education institution located in Michigan.In 1966, Baxter married Robert Lewis Bush. At the time, she was only 19-years-old. They had two children, son Theodore Justin "Ted" Bush (born1967) and daughter Eva Whitney Bush (born 1969) . The couple separated in 1969, and their divorce was finalized in 1971.Baxter aspired to an acting career, like her mother. She remained fairly obscure until the early 1970s. Her highest-profile work were guest-star roles in then-popular television series, such as "The Doris Day Show" and "The Partridge Family". Baxter received her big break when cast as the female lead in the sitcom "Bridget Loves Bernie" (1972-1973). The main premise was an interfaith marriage between Catholic teacher Bridget Fitzgerald and Jewish taxi driver Bernie Steinberg. The series was the 5th highest-rated show on television during its single season, though it was controversial due to its subject matter. Jewish organizations protested that the show violated Judaism's prohibition against interfaith marriage, and organized protest campaigns. Baxter herself received threatening house visits by members of the Jewish Defense League, a vigilante organization known for violent crimes. The controversy led to the series' cancellation by the network CBS. Only 24 episodes were ever broadcast. As of 2002, the series remained the highest-rated American show to be canceled after a single season.Following the series' cancellation, Baxter maintained a relationship with her co-star David Birney (1939-). In 1974, Baxter and Birney married each other. Their marriage lasted until 1989. They had three children: daughter Kathleen Jeanne "Kate" Birney (born 1974) and twins Mollie Elizabeth and Peter David Edwin Birney (born 1984). Several years following the end of their marriage, Baxter claimed that she had been physically abused by Birney during their marriage. Her co-workers were reportedly unaware that she had a problematic family life, or that she had struggled with alcoholism for several years.During the 1970s, Baxter started regularly appearing in television films. She had a starring role in the horror film "The Cat Creature" (1973), involving a curse by the cat goddess Bastet. The film was scripted by noted horror writer Robert Bloch (1917-1994), and paid tribute to classic horror films of the 1940s. She also had starring role in the romantic drama "The Stranger Who Looks Like Me" (1974), as a grown woman who is searching for the birth parents who had abandoned her.Baxter had one of her few feature films roles in the political thriller "All the President's Men" (1976), which depicted the early phases of the Watergate scandal. She played the supporting role of Debbie Sloan, the pregnant wife of witness Hugh W. Sloan Jr. (1940-). The real-life Hugh Sloan was the treasurer of the Committee to Re-elect the President, and later testified about the Committee's criminal activities. Sloan was depicted as one of the few honest men involved in Richard Nixon's shady organization. The film earned about 70.6 million dollars at the domestic box office, one of the greatest commercial hits in Baxter's career.Baxter had another shot at television stardom when cast as Nancy Lawrence in the family-themed drama "Family" (1976-1980). The series depicted a middle-aged couple who still lives with their three grown-up children. The character of Nancy was depicted as a divorced mother who moved back in with her parents. She was trying to raise her own child, while attending law school. Baxter's role was critically acclaimed, and she was twice nominated for the "Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series". The award was instead won by rival actresses Kristy McNichol (1962-) and Nancy Marchand (1928-2000)."Family" lasted for 5 seasons, and 86 episodes. It maintained solid ratings for most of its run, though a change to its time slot had led to rapid decline in ratings. Afterwards, Baxter was again in high demand for television roles. In 1981, Baxter co-starred in a television production of the play "Vanities" (1976) by Jack Heifner. The play follows the life of three best friends over an 11-year-period (1963-1974), from their high school and college years to adulthood. The friendship dissolves when the women discover that they no longer have any common interests. Joanne has become a conservative housewife and is trapped in an unhappy marriage, Mary owns a gallery specializing in erotic art and has become an advocate of sexual liberation, and Kathy has become a bookworm with a jaded view of life.Baxter gained her next major role as successful architect Elyse Keaton in the hit "Family Ties" (1982-1989). The main premise of the series was an exploration of the generation gap, between two generations with different political views. The parents of the Keaton family were former hippies, lifelong liberals, and successful professionals. Their only son Alex was a Young Republican who was mainly driven by his own greed and ambition, their eldest daughter Mallory was a typical "material girl" with apolitical views, and their youngest daughter Jennifer was a tomboy mainly interested in athletics,."Family Ties" maintained high-ratings for most of its run, though it was not particularly well-liked by critics. The series lasted for 7 seasons, a total of 176 episodes, and a television film. It was considered indicative of the conservative political landscape of the 1980s. Its main legacy was turning actor Michael J. Fox (who played Alex) into a household name. Baxter was at the height of her popularity in the 1980s. However, she later claimed that she had no actual social life for its duration. She went straight from home to the television studio, and from the studio back to home.In 1986, Baxter played the main role in the television film "Kate's Secret". It was acclaimed for its groundbreaking depiction of eating disorders. The main character Kate Stark (played by Baxter) appears to have an idyllic life. She is married to a man with a successful career, appears to have a loving family, and a close social circle. The truth depicted is less than idyllic. Kate's husband prioritizes his career over their marriage, and there is little actual affection in their relationship. Kate's "loving" mother is a domineering woman who criticizes her daughter for many perceived flaws. Kate's friends have no idea that she is suffering from bulimia nervosa, and Kate systematically hides her problems from everyone. The problems escalate until they become apparent to people surrounding Kate.In 1989, Baxter received a divorce. At the time, she was 42-years-old. In 1990, the then-recently divorced Baxter managed to overcome her alcoholism. She has reportedly been sober ever since. Also in 1990, Baxter played kidnapper Florence Tulane in the television film "The Kissing Place". She was playing against type, as she had previously mostly played morally upright characters in television.In 1992, Baxter had another well-received role in a television film. She played the main character in "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story". The film dramatized the life of Betty Broderick (1947-), a divorced woman who had murdered her ex-husband Daniel T. Broderick III and his second wife Linda Kolkena. The case had attracted much publicity because Daniel Broderick was the president of the San Diego Bar Association, and had apparently used his legal influence to to win sole custody over their children, to sell their house against Betty's wishes, and to bilk Betty out of her rightful share of his income. For this role, Baxter was nominated for the "Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie". The award was instead won by rival actress Gena Rowlands (1930-).In 1994, Baxter received an award by the "National Breast Cancer Coalition". Baxter had reportedly helped raise awareness of breast cancer and its effects through her then-recent work. In 1999, Baxter herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received medical treatment, and she is thought to have fully recovered.In 1995, Baxter married the novelist (and screenwriter) Michael Blodgett (1939-2007). This was Baxter's third marriage and Blodgett's fourth and last marriage. Baxter became the stepmother of Blodgett's three daughters from previous marriages. The couple received a divorce in 2000. A few years later, Blodgett died due to heart disease.In 1996, Baxter starred in the short-lived sitcom "The Faculty". The series was set in a typical middle school, with Baxter playing vice-principal Flynn Sullivan. Flynn was depicted as a single mother who was trying to balance her career and her family life. While the series was praised for its dignified main character, most critics found that the show lacked memorable supporting characters and was not particularly humorous in its depiction of school life. The series never had high ratings, and was canceled after a single season. Only 13 episodes were broadcast.In 1997, Baxter guest-starred in a two-part episode of the politically-themed sitcom "Spin City" (1996-2002). She played Macy Flaherty, the mother of protagonist Mike Flaherty (played by Michael J. Fox) Mike was depicted as the deputy mayor of New York City, skilled in politics but inept in managing his personal life. In this two-part episode, Macy has a brief romantic relationship with mayor Randall Winston (played by Barry Bostwick) , Mike's boss. She is then asked to help cover-up Randall's past relationship with a prostitute, which is thought to be damaging to his political career. The episodes were thought to be memorable for reuniting Baxter with her former co-star Michael J. Fox.In the early 2000s, Baxter had been reduced to playing one-shot characters in various television series. In 2006, Baxter joined the cast of the police procedural series "Cold Case" (2003-2010). She played the supporting character Ellen Rush, mother of the protagonist Lilly Rush (played by Kathryn Morris). Lilly was depicted as a homicide detective, who specialized in resolving decades-old cold cases. Ellen was depicted as an alcoholic single mother, who had managed to raise two daughters despite her personal problems. In seasons 3 and 4 of the series, Ellen was slowly dying from cirrhosis of the liver and Lilly had to take care of her. The storyline of the character was concluded with Ellen's death, and Baxter left the series in 2007.In 2009, Baxter publicly came out as a lesbian. She had been dating general contractor Nancy Locke since 2005. Baxter married Locke in 2013, and their marriage is still ongoing (as of 2021). This is Baxter's fourth and (so far) last marriage. Baxter revealed that she had been dating women since 2002, having previously had no same-sex relationships.In 2011, Baxter published her memoir "Untied", revealing previously unknown details about her personal and family life. Some of the details came as a surprise to longtime co-workers of Baxter, as she had never confided in them about her personal problems. Baxter's former husband David Birney publicly disputed the veracity of the book's narrative. The book became a New York Times bestseller.In 2014, Baxter briefly joined the cast of the long-running soap opera "The Young and the Restless" (1973-). She played Maureen Russell, a new drinking buddy for prominent character Nikki Newman (played by Melody Thomas Scott). Maureen was described as a charming middle-class woman with social-climbing aspirations. This was the first recurring television role Baxter since departing "Cold Case". For this role, Baxter was nominated for the "Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series". The award was instead won in a tie by three rival actors: Donna Mills (1940-), Fred Willard ( 1933-2020), and Ray Wise (1947-).From 2014 to 2015, Baxter had a recurring role in the short-lived teen drama "Finding Carter" (2014-2015). The premise of the series was that teenage girl Carter Stevens (played by Kathryn Prescott) reunites with her biological family, after years of being raised by a kidnapper. Carter has trouble acclimating to her new life. Baxter played Grandma Joan (nicknamed Gammy), Carter's wealthy grandmother. The main subplot involving Joan was that she had never accepted her daughter's marriage to a professional writer with no fixed income. The series lasted for 2 seasons, and a total of 36 episodes. So far, this has been Baxter's last recurring role in television.As of 2021, Baxter is 74-years-old. She has never fully retired from acting, though she infrequently appears in new roles. Several of her past roles are still fondly remembered. Baxter has never won any major acting award, despite multiple nominations over several decades. But she has remained quite popular with the general public.