Christina Ann McNichol
September 11, 1962
|Known for||Family, Empty Nest and Little Darlings|
|Relatives||Jimmy McNichol (brother)|
Christina Ann McNichol (born September 11, 1962) is a former American actress, comedian and singer. 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. She won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of teenage daughter Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence in the TV drama Family. McNichol retired from acting in 2001.
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-Scottish/Irish on her father's side and her mother is of Lebanese descent.
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 television series Apple's Way (1974).
In 1976, she was cast as Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence in the television drama series Family (1976–80). She was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series three years in a row (1977–79), winning in 1977 and 1979.
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 foray into music, recording the album Kristy and Jimmy McNichol for RCA Records (AFL1-2875). Produced by Phil Margo and Mitch Margo, 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. In 1978, McNichol performed with Jimmy in a second Carpenters' holiday special, titled The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait.
McNichol was one of the bigger 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.
McNichol began her film career in 1977 in Black Sunday, but her scenes were cut. In 1978, she starred with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in the black comedy The End.
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. 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.
McNichol was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her performance in the 1982 movie The Pirate Movie. The same year, she suffered an emotional breakdown while playing the lead role in the comedy-drama Just the Way You Are that was being filmed in France. She later told People magazine that she could not sleep and she cried the entire time she was in France. She had nightmares when she did sleep and she cried on set. She did not return to the production after Christmas to finish the movie; filming had to be interrupted for a year while McNichol recovered. She later said that the breakdown had been caused by the pressures of her childhood career, 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 after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder but returned for its final episode in 1995. It was her last on-screen performance. However, she later voiced characters in the animated TV series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997) and Invasion America (1998).
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.
McNichol lost a close friend and former lover Elisabeth Brooks when Brooks died on September 7, 1997.
After her retirement, McNichol taught acting at a private school in Los Angeles and devoted much of her time to charity work. In 2012, McNichol ended years of speculation when she revealed that she is a lesbian and has lived with her partner Martie Allen since the early 1990s. She made the statement in the hopes that her openness would help young people who are bullied because of their sexuality.
|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 Stanley|
|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|
|1973||Love, American Style||Steffi||Episode: "Love and the Unsteady Steady"|
|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|