Australian import Poppy Montgomery found success on American television playing a series of strong-willed women, often in the popular police procedural genre. Soon after arriving in Hollywood the vivacious young actress began picking up small parts in films like "Devil in a Blue Dress" (1995), followed by guest turns on such hit shows as "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). Constantly on the verge of breakout success, the actress starred on the incredibly short-lived drama "Relativity" (ABC, 1996), co-starred in the college comedy "Dead Man on Campus" (1998) and even took the lead as Marilyn Monroe in the biographical miniseries, "Blonde" (CBS, 2001) - none of which took her career to the expected next level. At last, Montgomery struck gold when she landed the role of FBI agent Samantha "Sam" Spade on the hit crime procedural "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09). During this time she maintained a screen presence with film and TV work on such projects as the romantic drama "How to Lose Your Lover" (2004) and the biopic "Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story" (Lifetime, 2011). Soon after the close of "Without a Trace," she starred as a cop with a photographic memory on the inventive crime drama "Unforgettable" (CBS, 2011-14). Blessed with undeniable beauty, it was also Montgomery's irresistible inner spark that made her stand out from the majority of her contemporaries on the small screen.
Born Poppy Petal Emma Elizabeth Devereaux Donahue on June 19, 1975, this native of New South Wales, Australia grew up in Sydney. The daughter of a restaurateur and market researcher, Montgomery and her four sisters were all named after flowers. A lifelong fan of Hollywood, Montgomery recalled that she and her siblings spent an inordinate amount of their childhood playing "dress up," pretending to be Marilyn Monroe-like movie stars. Arriving in Los Angeles in the early 1990 and quaintly carrying a copy of Wendy Hyland's book, How to Make It in Hollywood, Montgomery reportedly tracked down Julia Roberts' personal manager to inform him that she was available. While Roberts' people passed, this gutsy move did eventually lead Montgomery to her first representation. In 1995, Montgomery made her feature film debut in director Carl Franklin's underrated thriller "Devil in a Blue Dress." Her small role in the film led to a handful of television guest roles on such mainstays as "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) and "Party of Five" (Fox, 1995-96).
Soon after, Montgomery landed her first regular series role, playing Kimberly Williams' younger sister, Jennifer Lukens, on the short-lived romantic drama, "Relativity" (ABC, 1996-97). Critically adored, but abysmally rated, ABC pulled the plug on after just 17 episodes. Fortunately by this point, Montgomery was already on a roll with casting directors. In 1998, Montgomery scored the female lead role in the MTV-produced comedy, "Dead Man on Campus" (1998), starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tom Everett Scott. Reviews of the film were far from glowing, but it was one more project to add to her growing CV. In 2001, Montgomery landed her dream role when she was cast as childhood idol Marilyn Monroe in the CBS miniseries, "Blonde" (2001). Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Joyce Carol Oates, "Blonde" was a fictionalized account of the iconic bombshell's life, as seen through her own eyes. To better look the part, the small-framed Montgomery put on 12 pounds and worked tirelessly with a dialect coach in order to master Monroe's wispy-voiced delivery. Aired over two nights during May sweeps, "Blonde" performed respectably in terms of ratings, but reviews were mixed on both the show and Montgomery's portrayal.
Still searching for her breakthrough vehicle, Montgomery came close to landing it when she was cast on the short-lived mystery series "Glory Days" (The WB, 2002) - the brainchild of "Dawson's Creek" creator, Kevin Williamson. Unfortunately, "Glory Days" failed to catch on and died less than halfway through its first season. Montgomery's patience was rewarded later that year when she landed the role of Special Agent Samantha Spade on the crime series, "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09). Unlike Montgomery's previous series, "Without a Trace" proved to be a ratings winner straight out of the gate - providing the actress with a welcome departure from what had become the career norm. She took full advantage of her success by taking on projects like the indie romantic drama "How to Lose Your Lover" (2004) with Paul Schneider during breaks from the production of her hit series. Other work included a turn as a determined New York lawyer searching for her missing sister in the back alleys of Tijuana in the psychological thriller "Between" (Lifetime, 2005). She played a far less heroic character in the based-on-fact murder-mystery "Murder in the Hamptons' (Lifetime, 2005), as a wealthy socialite whose husband dies under mysterious circumstances in the midst of their divorce proceedings.
Despite hitting a ratings-high during the fourth season, viewership of the show had begun to slip and after seven seasons, "Without a Trace" was cancelled. As she looked for her next role, Montgomery took on more made-for-TV roles with the Lifetime network. She played a frumpy magazine editor whose anonymous online advice column brings about unexpected changes in "Lying to be Perfect" (Lifetime, 2010), then essayed one of the most successful novelists of all time in the literary biopic "Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story" (Lifetime, 2011). It seemed as if lightening might strike twice for Montgomery when she nabbed the lead role on the police procedural "Unforgettable" (CBS, 2011-14) as Carrie Wells, a New York City police detective who uses her unique ability to visually recall any event witnessed in her life in the solving of crimes. Initially a ratings winner, "Unforgettable" garnered mixed reviews and finished in the middle of the Nielsen pack by the end of its first season. Although CBS announced it was canceling the show in spring 2012, the network did an about-face and announced it would be giving a somewhat reduced second season order of 13 episodes.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Co-starred in "Jake Lassiter: Justice on the Bayou" (NBC)
Had small role in feature "Devil in the Blue Dress"
Was regular on ABC series "Relativity"
Starred in "The Cold Equations" for the SciFi Channel
Had first feature lead in "Dead Man on Campus"
Co-starred in the UPN midseason replacement series "The Beat"
Portrayed Marilyn Monroe in the CBS miniseries "Blonde"
Had regular role on the mystery drama "Glory Days" (The WB)
Cast in the drama series "Without A Trace" (CBS)
Played the wife of Ted Ammon, a wealthy investment banker in the fact-inspired Lifetime drama movie "Murder in the Hamptons"