Lea Katherine Thompson (born May 31, 1961) is an American actress and director. She is best known for her lead character in the 1990s NBC series Caroline in the City and her part as Marty McFly's mother in the Back to the Future trilogy.
Thompson was told by ballet legend and then ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov that she was "a beautiful dancer, but too stocky." Due to this (as well as some small nagging past injuries), she decided to give up dancing in favor of an acting career. She moved to New York at age 20 and performed in a number of Burger King advertisements in the 1980s along with Elisabeth Shue, her eventual co-star in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III.
In 1986, Thompson starred in SpaceCamp and Howard the Duck. For the latter film, she sang several songs on the soundtrack, in character, as musician Beverley Switzer, who was the lead vocalist for a band called "Cherry Bomb." The recordings appeared on both the soundtrack album and on singles. Rounding out film appearances in the late 1980s, Thompson starred in Some Kind of Wonderful, Casual Sex?, Going Undercover and The Wizard of Loneliness. She also had a prominent role in the 1989 TV movie Nightbreaker, for which she was nominated for a CableACE Award. In the early 1990s, Thompson starred in Dennis the Menace (1993), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) and The Little Rascals (1994). She also appeared in several TV movies throughout the 90s, such as The Substitute Wife (1994), The Unspoken Truth (1995) and The Right To Remain Silent (1996).
Thompson found moderate critical and popular success as the star of the NBC sitcom Caroline in the City, from 1995-1999. In 1996, Thompson received a People's Choice Award for "Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series."
After a break from acting, Thompson went on to star in several Broadway plays. She later appeared in a TV series called For The People, which only lasted one season. Then came a TV movie, Stealing Christmas (2003), starring Tony Danza and Betty White. Thompson also appeared in several episodes of the dramedy series Ed and in a guest role for one episode in 2004 on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; she played a woman whose embryos were stolen.
In 2005, Thompson began a series of made-for-TV movies for the Hallmark Channel, in which she plays "Jane Doe," an ex-secret agent turned housewife, who helps the government solve mysteries. Thompson directed two films from the Jane Doe series - Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall and Jane Doe: Eye of the Beholder. She is currently attached to direct the feature film The Swingin' Sounds of Jack Amsterdam, which is set to be released in 2009.
Thompson was a featured singer on Celebrity Duets and the second contestant eliminated in 2006. Over the next two years, more of her Jane Doe films were released, two of which Thompson directed - The Harder they Fall and Eye of the Beholder.
In April 2007, another TV movie, A Life Interrupted, premiered on Lifetime Television. It concerns a rape survivor, who overcomes her debilitating fear by working to get funding to get the terrible backlog of rape kits processed, so that other women will not have to suffer for years as she did.
Thompson guest-starred on the show Head Case in January 2008. She appeared in the TV movie Final Approach, which debuted in the U.S. on May 24, 2008. Her recent film credits include Exit Speed and Doubting Thomas. She is also making her directorial debut in to the silver screen, directing the movie The Swingin' Sounds of Jack Amsterdam. she recently starred in the television movie The Christmas Clause. The film got good reviews and good ratings. She is also starring in the new films Splinterheads and Prettyface.
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