Elizabeth Ashley
Ashley in 1971
Elizabeth Ann Cole

(1939-08-30) August 30, 1939 (age 84)
Years active1960–present
(m. 1962; div. 1965)
(m. 1966; div. 1972)
James McCarthy
(m. 1975; div. 1981)

Elizabeth Ann Cole (born August 30, 1939), known professionally as Elizabeth Ashley, is an American actress of theatre, film, and television. She has been nominated for three Tony Awards, winning once in 1962 for Take Her, She's Mine. Ashley was also nominated for the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for her supporting performance in The Carpetbaggers (1964), and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1991 for Evening Shade. Elizabeth was a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 24 times. She appeared in several episodes of In the Heat of the Night as Maybelle Chesboro. She also appeared in an episode of Mannix, "The Dark Hours", in 1974.

Early life

Ashley was born Elizabeth Ann Cole in Ocala, Florida, to music teacher Arthur Kingman Cole and the former Lucille Ayer.[1][2] She grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[3]

Ashley left Louisiana State University after her freshman year and moved to New York. She studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre there, supporting herself by working as the Jell-O pudding girl on a television program and as a showroom model.[4]


Ashley won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Take Her, She's Mine, then later starred as Corie in the original Broadway production of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (1963) and, later, as Maggie in a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1974). She received Tony nominations for both performances.[5] She appeared on Broadway as Dr. Livingstone in Agnes of God (1982) and was a replacement in the role of Mattie Fae during the original Broadway run of August: Osage County.[6]

She has been featured in major motion pictures over five decades, including early roles in The Carpetbaggers (1964), Ship of Fools (1965), and The Third Day (1965). Her other film credits include The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971), Rancho Deluxe (1975), Coma (1978), Paternity (1981), Dragnet (1987), and Vampire's Kiss (1989), and she starred as the villain in the controversial film Windows (1980).

She first appeared with Burt Reynolds in a 1969 season episode of Love, American Style, then later in the movie Paternity in 1981, as a guest star in his television series B.L. Stryker in 1989, and finally as a cast member in his final television series, Evening Shade, from 1990 to 1994 as Aunt Frieda Evans.[7]

Ashley had the role of Kate in Sandburg's Lincoln, a six-part dramatization that ran on NBC in the mid-1970s.[7]: 926  Her other television appearances include the 1987 miniseries The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, and guest roles in Ben Casey; Route 66; Sam Benedict; Stoney Burke; The Six Million Dollar Man; Family; Miami Vice; Caroline in the City; Mission: Impossible; Murder, She Wrote; Dave's World; Law & Order; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Touched by an Angel; The Larry Sanders Show; Homicide: Life on the Street; Russian Doll; and Better Things. She was featured in 14 episodes of the HBO series Treme as Aunt Mimi.


Ashley's autobiography Actress: Postcards from the Road was published in a hardcover edition on June 1, 1978 by M. Evans & Co (now part of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group). A paperback publication followed on October 12, 1979 through Fawcett Publications.[8]

Personal life

Ashley is thrice married and divorced. Her first and second husbands were actors James Farentino and George Peppard.[9] The latter was her leading man in her first movie, The Carpetbaggers (1964). The couple had a son, Christian.[10] Her divorce from Peppard caused the cancellation of his television series Banacek; he quit the show to prevent her from receiving a larger percentage of his earnings as part of their divorce settlement.[11]

At 25, Ashley retired from acting "to make a home for my husband, see that he had his dinner on time, realize myself as a woman." She resumed her career four years later.[12] She dated writer Tom McGuane and credits their liaison with reawakening a sexuality that she put to good use when she portrayed Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1974.[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1964 The Carpetbaggers Monica Winthrop
1965 Ship of Fools Jenny Brown
1965 The Third Day Alexandria Mallory
1971 The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker Nan
1973 Paperback Hero Loretta
1974 Golden Needles Felicity
1975 Rancho Deluxe Cora Brown
1975 92 in the Shade Jeannie Carter
1976 The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday Nancy Sue
1976 One of My Wives Is Missing Elizabeth
1978 Coma Mrs. Emerson
1980 Windows Andrea Glassen
1981 Paternity Sophia Thatcher
1982 Split Image Diana Stetson
1986 Stagecoach Dallas
1987 Dragnet Jane Kirkpatrick
1988 Vampire's Kiss Dr. Glaser
1988 Dangerous Curves Miss Reed
1989 A Man of Passion Gloria
1996 Shoot the Moon Mrs. Comstock
1997 Sleeping Together Mrs. Tuccinini
1998 Happiness Diane Freed
1999 Just the Ticket Mrs. Paliski
2000 Labor Pains Janice
2001 Home Sweet Hoboken Beth Flowers
2002 Hey Arnold!: The Movie Mrs. Vitello (voice)
2007 The Cake Eaters Marg Kaminski
2017 Fry Day Deirdre Short
2017 Just Getting Started Lily
2018 Severance Francesca Short
2018 Ocean's 8 Ethel


Year Title Role Notes
1961 The Defenders Joyce Harkavy "The Prowler"
1962 The Nurses Barbara Bowers "The Barbara Bowers Story"
1962 Ben Casey Jane Brewster "And Even Death Shall Die"
1963 Route 66 Maria Cardenas "The Cage Around Maria"
1963 Sam Benedict Cindy Messerman "Season for Vengeance"
1963 Stoney Burke Donna Weston "Tigress by the Tail"
1966 Run for Your Life Dina Fuller "The Grotenberg Mask"
1966 Hawk Donna "H Is for a Dirty Letter"
1969 The Skirts of Happy Chance Laddie Turnbow TV film
1969 The File on Devlin Sally Devlin TV film
1970 Love, American Style Penny Dunbar "Love and the Banned Book"(with Burt Reynolds)
1970 The Virginian Faith Andrews "The West vs. Colonel MacKenzie"
1970 Medical Center Anne Forley "Brink of Doom"
1971 Insight Sally "The War of the Eggs"
1971 Harpy Marian TV film
1971 The Face of Fear Sally Dillman TV film
1971 Mission: Impossible Lois Stoner "Encounter"
1972 When Michael Calls Helen Connelly TV film
1972 Second Chance Ellie Smith TV film
1972 Ghost Story Karen Dover "At the Cradle Foot"
1972 The Heist Diane Craddock TV film
1972 Your Money or Your Wife Laurel Plunkett TV film
1973 Mission: Impossible Andrea "The Question"
1973 The Magician Sally Baker "Pilot"
1973 Police Story Jannette Johnson "Dangerous Games"
1973 The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping Dr. Erica Bergner TV film
1974 Mannix Karen Winslow "The Dark Hours"
1974 Ironside Laura Keyes "Close to Your Heart"
1974 The F.B.I. Claire "Diamond Run"
1975 Lincoln Kate Chase Sprague "Sad Figure, Laughing"
1976 One of My Wives Is Missing Elizabeth Corban TV film
1977 Family Elizabeth Kraft "Lovers and Strangers"
1977 The War Between the Tates Erica Tate TV film
1978 Tom and Joann Joan Hammil TV film
1978 A Fire in the Sky Sharon Allan TV film
1982 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) "Elizabeth Ashley/Hall & Oates"
1983 Freedom to Speak Jane Addams / Dorothea Dix TV miniseries
1983 Svengali Eve Swiss TV film
1984 He's Fired, She's Hired Freddie Fox TV film
1985 The Love Boat Nancy Bricker 2 episodes
1985 Cagney & Lacey Michelle Zal "The Psychic"
1985 The Hitchhiker Mrs. Baxter "Out of the Night"
1986 Stagecoach Dallas TV film
1987 The Two Mrs. Grenvilles Babette Van Degan TV miniseries
1987 Warm Hearts, Cold Feet Blanche Webster TV film
1987 Miami Vice D.E.A. Agent Linda Colby "Knock, Knock... Who's There?"
1988 Eisenhower and Lutz Eleanor "Pride and Prejudice"
1989 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Karen Lawson / Kate Lawson "Mirror Mirror"
1989 B.L. Stryker Althea Campbell "Blues for Buder"
1989 Hunter Felicia Green "A Girl Named Hunter"
1989 American Playwrights Theater: The One-Acts Annie Sweeney "The Rope"
1989 Murder, She Wrote Vera Gerakaris "Truck Stop"
1990 Blue Bayou Lolly Fontenot TV film
1990 Another World Emma Frame Ordway TV series
1990–1994 Evening Shade Freida Evans Main role
1991 Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story Vicky TV film
1991 Love and Curses... And All That Jazz Emmalina TV film
1992 In the Best Interest of the Children Carla Scott TV film
1993 The Larry Sanders Show Elizabeth Ashley "Off Camera"
1993 Harnessing Peacocks Grandmother TV film
1994 In the Heat of the Night Maybelle Cheseboro "Maybelle Returns"
1994 Law & Order Gwen Young "Second Opinion"
1995 The Buccaneers Mrs. Closson TV miniseries
1995 Burke's Law Mary Burton "Who Killed the Motor Car Maverick?"
1995 Women of the House Elizabeth Ashley "Women in Film"
1995 Murder, She Wrote Emily Broussard Renwyck "Big Easy Murder"
1995 Touched by an Angel Sandy Latham "Angels on the Air"
1996 Dave's World Jeanette "Double Fault"
1996 The Big Easy Larissa Fontaine "A Dead Man Is Hard to Find"
1996 All My Children Madge Sinclair TV series
1996 Hey Arnold! Mrs. Vitello (voice) "Arnold's Hat/Stoop Kid"
1996–97 Caroline in the City Natalie Karinsky "Caroline and Richard's Mom", "Caroline and the Bad Trip"
1997 The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Margaret Lipton "May and June: Part One"
1998 Hey Arnold! Mrs. Vitello (voice) "Part Time Friends/Biosquare"
1999 Homicide: Life on the Street Madeline Pitt "Truth Will Out"
1999 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Serena Benson "Payback"
2010–2013 Treme Aunt Mimi Recurring role
2015 Understudies Dotty Buggett TV film
2019–present Russian Doll Ruth Brenner Main cast
2020 The Bold Type Pam Sheard "#Scarlet"
2020 Better Things Miss Louise "New Orleans"


  1. ^ "Elizabeth Ashley". Playbill. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  2. ^ "ELIZABETH ASHLEY". Turner Classic Movies. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. n.d. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Zach (December 30, 2011). "Persona: Elizabeth Ashley". New Orleans Magazine.
  4. ^ Reed, Rex (September 22, 1974). "Two First-Rate Talents On Second-Hand Broadway". New York Daily News. p. Leisure-5. Retrieved April 27, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Ashley". Tony Awards. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  6. ^ Elizabeth Ashley at the Internet Broadway Database
  7. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (January 10, 2014). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. p. 313. ISBN 978-0-7864-8641-0. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Actress: Postcards from the Road. Fawcett Crest. 1978. ISBN 978-0-4492-4104-2.
  9. ^ Manners, Dorothy (May 29, 1966). "George Peppard retains his image as a loner". The News and Courier. Charleston, S.C.
  10. ^ Gates, Anita (January 20, 2008). "The Unsinkable Elizabeth Ashley". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  11. ^ "6 RICH FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT BANACEK". Heroes & Icons. April 19, 2019. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  12. ^ Smith, Cecil (November 21, 1969). "Elizabeth Ashley Returns to Acting". Los Angeles Times. p. Part IV - 25. Retrieved December 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.