Helen Shaver
Born (1951-02-24) February 24, 1951 (age 72)
Occupation(s)Actress, director
Years active1972–present
(m. 1979; div. 1982)
Steve Smith
(m. 1988)

Helen Shaver (born February 24, 1951)[1][2] is a Canadian actress and film and television director. After appearing in a number of Canadian movies, she received a Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama In Praise of Older Women (1978).[3] She later appeared in the films The Amityville Horror (1979), The Osterman Weekend (1983), Desert Hearts (1985), The Color of Money (1986), The Believers (1987), The Craft (1996),Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996) and Down River (2013). She received another Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress nomination for the 1986 drama film Lost!, and won a Best Supporting Actress for We All Fall Down (2000). Shaver also starred in some short-lived television series, including United States (1980) and Jessica Novak (1981), and from 1996 to 1999 starred in the Showtime horror series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, for which she received a Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television nomination.

In the mid-1990s, Shaver began working as a television director, directing more than 50 shows. She won three Directors Guild of Canada Awards, one Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or TV Film, two Canadian Screen Awards, and three Women's Image Network Awards. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for directing the 1999 television movie Summer's End and in 2020 made her big screen debut with the drama film Happy Place. In 2004, Shaver was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.[4]

Early life

Shaver was born and raised with five sisters in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.


After roles in such Canadian features as Outrageous! (1977), Starship Invasions (1977), Who Has Seen the Wind (1977) and High Ballin' (1978), Shaver won a Canadian Film Award as Best Lead Actress opposite Tom Berenger (for her performance as "Ann MacDonald") in In Praise of Older Women (1978).

Shaver was one of the stars of director Sam Peckinpah's final film, 1983's The Osterman Weekend. In 1985, Shaver starred in Desert Hearts as a 1950s university professor who falls in love with another woman.[5] Her performance, with co-star Patricia Charbonneau, drew critical praise and Shaver won the Bronze Leopard Award at the Locarno International Film Festival. Another prominent film performance during that time came in 1986 as the love interest of Paul Newman in his Oscar-winning portrayal of "Fast" Eddie Felson in Scorsese's The Color of Money, a sequel to 1961's The Hustler.

Helen Shaver's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

In 1980, Shaver starred with Beau Bridges in the short-lived NBC TV series United States developed by Larry Gelbart. A year later she starred in the short-lived drama series Jessica Novak. She was in the 1984 Canadian-made Countdown to Looking Glass. She subsequently appeared on such television shows as Hill Street Blues and T. J. Hooker. In 1990, she guest-starred as the murderer in Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo, and later that year co-starred on the short-lived series WIOU, playing a television journalist (as she also did on Jessica Novak). From 1996-1999, Shaver co-starred on the TV series Poltergeist: The Legacy, playing Dr. Rachel Corrigan, a widowed psychiatrist with an eight-year-old daughter who is helped by the Legacy in the pilot episode; her performance earned a Saturn Award nomination. In 2000, she won a Genie Award for her portrayal of a drug-addicted prostitute in the independent feature We All Fall Down.

Shaver made her feature-length directorial debut in 1999 with the television film Summer's End, which won an Emmy and earned her a directorial nomination. Shaver has also directed a number of television shows and cable movies, including The Outer Limits, Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Medium, The OC, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The L Word, Jericho, Journeyman, Private Practice, The Unit, Crusoe, Orphan Black, Vikings (2013 TV series), 13 Reasons Why, and Westworld. In 2003 she won a Gemini award for Best Direction in a Dramatic Series for the Just Cause television series episode "Death's Details".

In 2004, Shaver was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.[4]

Happy Place, her first theatrical feature film after directing for television, premiered at the Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, and was screened at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival.[6]

In 2021, Shaver picked up The Living Legend Tribute at the 23rd Women's Image Network Awards with fellow honoree JoJo Siwa its Rising Musical Star recipient.[7][8]

In 2023, Shaver won the DGA award for directing episode 8 ("Who's There?") of Station Eleven.[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Supreme Kid Girl Hitch-hiker Make-up
1976 Shoot Paula
1977 Outrageous! Jo
1977 Starship Invasions Betty Duncan
1977 Who Has Seen the Wind Ruth Thompson
1978 High-Ballin' Pickup
1978 In Praise of Older Women Ann MacDonald Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress
1979 The Amityville Horror Carolyn
1980 Coming Out Alive Isobel
1981 Gas Rhonda
1982 Harry Tracy, Desperado Catherine Tuttle
1983 The Osterman Weekend Virginia Tremayne
1984 Best Defense Clair Lewis
1985 Desert Hearts Vivian Bell Locarno International Film Festival Bronze Leopard
1985 The War Boy Maria
1986 Lost! Linda Nominated — Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress
1986 The Men's Club Sarah
1986 The Color of Money Janelle
1987 The Believers Jessica Halliday
1988 The Land Before Time Littlefoot's mother
1989 Tree of Hands Benet Archdale
1990 Bethune: The Making of a Hero Mrs. Dowd
1991 A Smile in the Dark The Devil
1992 Zebrahead Diane
1992 That Night Ann O'Connor
1993 Morning Glory Lula Peak
1995 Open Season Rachel Rowen
1995 Born to Be Wild Margaret Heller
1996 The Craft Grace Downs
1996 Rowing Through Slim
1996 Tremors 2: Aftershocks Dr. Kate Reilly
1996 Egg Salad Gladys Short
1999 The Wishing Tree Wallis
2000 Bear with Me Sara Bradley
2000 We All Fall Down Sherry Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress
2004 The Keeper Ruthie
2007 Numb Audrey Milbank
2013 Birthday Cake Judith Ferguson
2013 Down River Pearl Nominated — Leo Award for Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Motion Picture
Nominated — ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance - Female
2018 Souls of Totality Shepherd One Short


Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Beachcombers "Affairs of the Heart"
1974 Police Surgeon Gloria "The Killer"
1975 Police Surgeon Bonnie "Web of Guilt"
1977 Search and Rescue: The Alpha Team Dr. Liz Warren TV film
1978 Lovey: A Circle of Children, Part II Patty TV film
1979 Overlanders Mrs. O'Mara TV film
1980 United States Libby Chapin Main role
1981 Jessica Novak Jessica Novak Main role
1982 Between Two Brothers Susan Frazer TV film
1982 Off Your Rocker Miss Beecher TV film
1982 Hill Street Blues Teresa Hyler 4
1983 T. J. Hooker Lisa Jericho "The Shadow of Truth"
1984 Countdown to Looking Glass Dorian Waldorf TV film
1985 The Park Is Mine Valery TV film
1986 Amazing Stories Karen "Mirror, Mirror"
1986 Philip Marlowe, Private Eye Belle Delaguerra "Spanish Blood"
1986 The Edison Twins Phyllis Dayton "The Case of the Friendly Fugitive", "Gems and Jelly Beans", "The Maharajah of Weston"
1986 Many Happy Returns Sally Robinson TV film
1987 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson herself TV talk show, June 25, 1987[10]
1988 The Ray Bradbury Theater Miss Haight "The Emissary"
1988 No Blame Amy Donaldson TV film
Nominated — Gemini Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
1989 B.L. Stryker Diane Decker "The Dancer's Touch"
1989 Mothers, Daughters and Lovers Claire Nichols TV film
1990 Pair of Aces Rose TV film
1990 Columbo Vivian Dimitri "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"
1990-91 WIOU Kelby Robinson Main role
1992 E.N.G. Sandra Brady "Child's Play"
1992 Fatal Memories Elaine Tipton TV film
1993 Survive the Night Stacy TV film
1993 Poisoned by Love: The Kern County Murders Edie Ballew TV film
1993 Trial & Error Katherine Woodfield TV film
1994 The Forget-Me-Not Murders Monique TV film
1994 Ride with the Wind Katherine Barnes TV film
1994 Without Consent Nora Fields TV film
1994 Janek: The Silent Betrayal Monique Dessier TV film
1995 Falling for You Mary TV film
1995 The Outer Limits Cathy Kress "The Sandkings"
Nominated — CableACE Award for Actress in a Dramatic Series
1996-99 Poltergeist: The Legacy Dr. Rachel Corrigan Main role
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television
1997 Dead Man's Gun Dianna McKinney "Next of Kin"
1998 The Sweetest Gift Mrs. Martin TV film
1999 The First Gentleman Marjorie Litchfield TV film
2000 Common Ground Janet TV film
2001-02 The Education of Max Bickford Erica Bettis Main role
2003 The Risen Lynn Todd TV film
2003 D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear Sandy Moose TV film
2004 The L Word Faye Buckley "Luck, Next Time", "Liberally"
2004 The 4400 Barbara Yates "Becoming", "Trial by Fire"
2008 A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride Rose TV film
2010 Iris Expanding Iris's Mom TV film


Year Title Note(s)
1996-99 Poltergeist: The Legacy 2 episodes
1997-2000 The Outer Limits 6 episodes
1998 Dead Man's Gun Episode: "Stage Coach Marty"
The Net Episode: "Bulls and Bears"
1999 Summer's End TV movie
2000-01 Beggars and Choosers 2 episodes
2001 The Associates
Soul Food Episode: "This Crazy Life"
2001-05 Judging Amy 11 episodes
2002 The District Episode: "Shell Game"
Due East TV movie
2003 Just Cause Episode: "Death's Details"
Dead Like Me Episode: "Rest in Peace"
Joan of Arcadia Episode: "The Uncertainty Principle"
2004 The O.C. Episode: "The Proposal"
The 4400 Episode: "The New and Improved Carl Morrissey"
2005 Close to Home Episode: "Divine Directions"
The Stranger I Married TV movie
2006 Medium Episode: "Doctor's Orders"
2006-07 The Unit 3 episodes
2006 Vanished Episode: "The Feed"
Standoff Episode: "Borderline"
Ultra TV movie
2007 Jericho Episode: "Black Jack"
Journeyman Episode: "Winterland"
2008-11 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 9 episodes
2008-09 Cursoe 2 episodes
Private Practice 2 episodes
2009 Castle Episode: "One Man's Treasure"
2010 Make it or Break It Episode: "Save the Last Dance"
The Bridge 2 episodes
Shattered 2 episodes
2011 Flashpoint Episode: "I'd Do Anything"
Stargate Universe Episode: "Seizure"
Law & Order: LA Episode: "Big Rock Mesa"
Combat Hospital 2 episodes
2012 The Firm 5 episodes
2012-15 Person of Interest 3 episodes
2013 Republic of Doyle Episode: "Firecracker"
2013-14 Revolution 3 episodes
2014 Reign Episode: "For King and Country"
Elementary Episode: "Dead Clade Walking"
2014-17 Orphan Black 3 episodes
2015-19 Vikings 6 episodes
2016 Heartbeat Episode: "100,000 Heartbeats"
Travelers 2 episodes
2017-18 Anne with an E 2 episodes
2017 13 Reasons Why 2 episodes
2018 Sneaky Pete Episode: "The Reluctant Taxidermist"
Impulse Episode: "The Eagle and the Bee"
Dietland 2 episodes
2020 Westworld Episode: "Passed Pawn"
Snowpiercer 2 episodes
Lovecraft Country Episode: "Meet Me in Daegu"
Happy Place Feature film
2021-22 Station Eleven 3 episodes
2022 Quantum Leap Episode: "What a Disaster!"


  1. ^ "Helen Shaver". www.tcm.com.
  2. ^ "Helen Shaver". Rotten Tomatoes.
  3. ^ Topalovich, Maria (2000). And the Genie Goes To...: Celebrating 50 Years of the Canadian Film Awards. Stoddart Publishing. ISBN 0-7737-3238-1.
  4. ^ a b "Canada's Walk of Fame". Canada's Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on December 14, 2008.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (April 4, 1986). "Desert Hearts (1985) FILM: 'DESERT HEARTS,' ABOUT WOMEN IN LOVE". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Lauren Malyk, "Loretta Todd’s Monkey Beach to open Vancouver Int’l Film Festival". Playback, September 3, 2020.
  7. ^ "Celebrating Helen Shaver & JoJo Siwa at the 23rd Women's Image Awards -- WIN Announces Its Honorees & 18 Film & Television Nominee Categories". WFMZ.com.
  8. ^ "Celebrating Helen Shaver & JoJo Siwa at the 23rd Women's Image Awards -- WIN Announces Its Honorees & 18 Film & Television Nominee Categories". StreetInsider.com.
  9. ^ Schneider, Michael (19 February 2023). "DGA Awards: The Daniels Land Top Prize for 'Everything Everywhere All at Once,' 'Euphoria' Wins TV Drama (Full Winners List)". Variety. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
  10. ^ Shaver, Helen (1987-06-25). "Helen Shaver interview with Johnny Carson". The Tonight Show. 0:35:44: NBC. Archived from the original on 2020-11-16. Retrieved 2020-04-03.((cite web)): CS1 maint: location (link)