February 19, 1966
Rye, New York, United States
Actor, Clothing designer, TV host, Production consultant
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This likable performer of 1980s sitcoms and TV-movies branched out from light juvenile roles to more demanding work on stage and cable TV in the 1990s. Still best known as the academic underachiever and dedicated shopper Mallory Keaton on the hit sitcom "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-89), Bateman entered show business after her younger brother Jason joined the final season of "Little House on the Prairie." She went to her brother's agency and soon found work in commercials by age 15. After initially reading for a small part in the pilot of "Family Ties," Bateman began her seven season stint as a sitcom regular in 1982. She garnered two Emmy nods for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in the 1985/86 and 1986/87 seasons. While the character of Mallory did grow in complexity over the course of the series' run, Bateman displayed greater diversity in her outside projects.Bateman's first TV-movie, the harrowing "Right to Kill?" (ABC, 1985), offered a darker depiction of family dynamics as she played the physically and emotionally abused daughter of a crazed Frederic Forrest. She made her debut as a TV host with "Disney's Captain EO Grand Opening" (NBC, 1986) and performed similar chores on subsequent TV specials, notably including the 1986 documentary "How Can I Tell If I'm Really in Love" (for which she also served as production consultant). Bateman shone in "Can You Feel Me Dancing?" (NBC, 1986), as an independent blind girl striving to break free of her overly protective family. The production itself was a family affair as her father Kent was the supervising producer and brother Jason played her sibling within the film. (The same trio would later form a repertory theater company in Hollywood.) Bateman was less well served by her feature debut in "Satisfaction" (1988), a critical and commercial flop about a mostly female rock band. After "Family Ties" was finally laid to rest, Bateman began appearing in more "adult" fare in TV and occasional films. She was the sexy, acid-tongued daughter of master salesman Danny Aiello in "The Closer" (1990), a direct-to-video film version of the 1976 play "Wheelbarrow Closers" (also starring Aiello). Bateman's next film, the political thriller "Primary Motive" (1992), also went the video route. She played the would-be politico girlfriend of press secretary Judd Nelson. "Deadbolt" (1992), another direct-to-video thriller, afforded Bateman a staring role as a med student menaced by her psycho roommate (Adam Baldwin). She failed to stand out amid the young ensemble for "The Night We Never Met" (1993), a mediocre romantic comedy, playing the well-to-do fiancee of Kevin Anderson. More recently, Bateman has lent her celebrity to several low-budget independent shorts and features, notably the "Taxi Driver"-inflected drama, "God's Lonely Man" (1996). Here she played the disinterested object of desire of the disturbed protagonist. On the small screen, Bateman won positive notices for the urgency she brought to the role of an unhappy wife supporting her musician husband (Patrick Dempsey) in "Merry Christmas, Baby" (A&E, 1992), a presentation of "General Motors Playwrights Theater." She kept busy in the generally less ambitious TV projects that followed. Perhaps most interesting was "A Century of Women" (TBS, 1994), a six-hour, three-part documentary/drama miniseries about the changing role and image of women in American society. Bateman appeared in the dramatic segments. She returned to series TV for one season as Ron Eldard's long-standing girlfriend in "Men Behaving Badly" (NBC, 1996-97). In a revamp of the series at the start of its second season, both she and Eldard, who had been critical of the series' writing, were replaced by other actors. Today, Bateman spends most of her time as a clothing designer. Among her well-known customers she counts Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears.