January 21, 1947
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
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A stately leading lady who projects intelligence, Jill Eikenberry became famous as the female law partner Ann Kelsey on the long-running NBC drama "L.A. Law" (1986-94), alongside her real-life husband Michael Tucker. Born in Connecticut and raised in Wisconsin and Missouri, Eikenberry was studying anthropology when a friend encouraged her to audition at Yale. By 1970, Eikenberry was a member of the Arena Stage where she met Tucker (whom she married in 1973). Within a few years, the couple had relocated to Manhattan where Eikenberry made her Broadway debut in "All Over Town" (1974), directed by Dustin Hoffman. She garnered praise for her performance as Kate, who dreams of a career as lawyer for the Justice Department, in Wendy Wasserstein's "Uncommon Women and Others" (which she reprised in a 1978 PBS broadcast) and for her musical turn as suffragette Victoria Woodhull in "Onward, Victoria" (1980). Eikenberry earned an OBIE Award for her work in "Lemon Sky" and "Life Under Water" in 1986.TV and films beckoned in the late 70s and Eikenberry debuted on the big screen as part of the ensemble of Joan Micklin Silver's look at alternative journalism, "Between the Lines" (1977). She has only a handful of other features to her credit, like her one scene in "An Unmarried Woman" (1978), as a friend who meets Jill Clayburgh at a Chinese restaurant and the more substantial role of the snooty fiancee of Dudley Moore's "Arthur" (1981). In "The Manhattan Project" (1986), Eikenberry was the mother of teenager (Christopher Collett) who manufactures a nuclear reactor. The small screen has offered more diversity and challenges, mostly in meaty dramas. A change of pace found Eikenberry joined Judith Light and Sandy Duncan in "My Boyfriend's Back" (NBC, 1989), a musical comedy-drama about the reunion of teen girl group, with Eikenberry as the lead singer and the one least interested in performing again. She co-produced and starred in "Living a Lie" (NBC, 1991), playing a woman who comes to realize her husband isn't what she thought he was. She also frequently teamed with her husband, generally portraying spouses, in such efforts as "A Family Again" (ABC, 1988) and "Gone Away in a Heartbeat" (CBS, 1996). Eikenberry served as a frequent host of TV specials, including "Destined to Live" (1988), a documentary about breast cancer which she co-produced.