Glenne Headly, a versatile stage actress who had a promising start to her Hollywood career in the con-artist comedy “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” and who later worked extensively in television, with appearances in the miniseries “Lonesome Dove” and on shows such as “ER” and “Monk,” died June 8. She was 62.
Her agent confirmed the death to the Associated Press but did not disclose the cause or location.
Ms. Headly, who grew up in the cultural milieu of New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, attended the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan before establishing her theater credentials in Chicago as part of the Steppenwolf Theatre Co., whose ensemble of rising talents included John Malkovich (whom she married), Gary Sinise and Laurie Metcalf.
She won Joseph Jefferson Awards — the city’s premier theater honor — in plays such as Lanford Wilson’s “Balm in Gilead,” portraying a streetwalker, and Lynn Siefert’s “Coyote Ugly,” as an ill-fortuned young wife.
Ms. Headly had small film parts — including as a prostitute in Woody Allen’s “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985) — before winning a high-profile role opposite Steve Martin and Michael Caine in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (1988). As the seemingly innocent mark who is in fact swindling two hustlers, she “provides a resilient foil as a woman who looks like a pushover but somehow never seems to topple,” film critic Roger Ebert wrote.
With her enigmatic smile and teasingly breathy voice, she had a charisma that Martin likened to that of Judy Holliday, the 1950s platinum blond screwball maestro. “Glenne can do both regular dramatic comedy and that rarefied kind of pure comedy that eludes” definition, he told New York magazine.
Few of her subsequent film roles captured her appeal. Ms. Headly played the loyal Tess Trueheart in “Dick Tracy” (1990), with Warren Beatty in the title role as a hard-boiled detective, and she played the music teacher wife of frustrated composer Richard Dreyfuss in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” (1995). She also appeared in the comedies “Getting Even With Dad” (1994) opposite Ted Danson and Macaulay Culkin and “Sgt. Bilko” (1996) with Martin.
On television, she had a supporting role as a sheriff’s wife in the hit CBS drama “Lonesome Dove” (1989), which brought her an Emmy Award nomination. She received a second Emmy nomination for her supporting role in the Showtime TV movie “Bastard Out of Carolina” (1996), a child abuse drama in which she played an aunt of the young victim.
Glenne Aimee Headly was born in New London, Conn., on March 13, 1955. She attended American College of Switzerland in Leysin.
On Broadway, she played the young heroine in a 1985 revival of George Bernard Shaw’s 19th-century comedy “Arms and the Man,” directed by Malkovich and co-starring Kevin Kline and Raul Julia as rivals for her affection. New York Times theater critic Frank Rich described her portrayal as innocently commanding, “an alternately smart and petulant schoolgirl one small step away from maturity [who] plays her hand with a winning, newly awakened adult poise that reduces both Mr. Kline and Mr. Julia to helpless tots.”
Her marriage to Malkovich ended in divorce. In 1993, she married Byron McCulloch, and they had a son. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
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