Family & Companions
With a diverse career that spanned film, television and music, actress Katey Sagal became a household name playing one of the small screen's most hilariously ill-suited parental figures, Peggy Bundy, on the raunchy, long-running sitcom "Married with Children" (Fox, 1987-97). Decked out in a red bouffant hairdo and spiked high heels, Sagal spent 11 years playing Peg, though finding out the hard way that it was to her detriment once the series was canceled. Unable to shake the persona of a lazy, wisecracking housewife fond of bonbons and tight Spandex, Sagal struggled to regain control of her image by tackling a wider diversity of television roles while settling into voicing an animated character on "Futurama" (Fox, 1999-2003). She also revived her long-stalled music career, having previously been a noted backup singer prior to acting, and released a couple of noteworthy albums while playing small clubs around the country. Eventually, she was cast by third husband and show creator Kurt Sutter for the role of scheming matriarch Gemma Morrow on the biker drama "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 2008-14), which finally allowed Sagal to wipe away any vestiges of Peg Bundy for good.
Born on Jan. 19, 1954, Sagal was raised in a show business family in Brentwood, CA - her father, Boris Sagal, was a noted film and television director, while her mother, Sara Zwilling, was one of Hollywood's first female assistant directors, as well as a singer and former beauty queen. A singer since she was five years old, Sagal's penchant for performing led her to enroll in the California Institute for the Arts in the fall semester of 1971, where she studied acting and singing until the following June. In 1973, she went on a yearlong tour with a musical production of Shakespeare's "Two Gentleman of Verona," acting and bunking alongside actress and fellow future sitcom mother Joanna Kerns. Meanwhile, Sagal made her official entry into acting with an episode of "Columbo" (NBC, 1971-78) that was directed by her father. Following her television movie debut in "The Dream Makers" (NBC, 1975), Sagal discovered that her mother was in the advanced stages of heart disease and succumbed to the problem that same year.
Soon after her mother passed, Sagal took a job waiting tables at The Great American Food and Beverage Company, where she and four coworkers formed the rock band, The Group with No Name. One fateful night while waiting on a classmate of one of her bandmates, she met KISS bassist Gene Simmons, who introduced the band to music executive Neil Bogart. Bogart signed The Group with No Name to his Casablanca Records imprint, which released its one and only album, Moon Over Brooklyn, in 1976. Though the band failed to last beyond its debut album, Simmons - whom she briefly dated at the time - was impressed enough with Sagal to utilize her backing vocals; first on the "Calling Dr. Love" track from the KISS album Rock and Roll Over, followed by singing background on his self-titled solo album, which was released in 1978 at the peak of KISS fame. That same year, Sagal also found a personal accompaniment to her professional credits with a marriage to bass player Freddie Beckmeyer.
Among the growing list of artists impressed with Sagal's talents were Bob Dylan and Bette Midler. Dylan utilized her vocal abilities for a six week period in 1978 before deciding to let much of his band go just prior to heading out on tour. Around that time, singer and actress Midler, fresh off her performance in the acclaimed feature film "The Rose" (1979), was looking for female vocalists to join her touring backup trio, The Harlettes, for a major international tour. Sagal won one of the three slots, beating out well over 200 possible candidates. She performed on the entire tour which ended in November 1978, but opted not to accompany Midler on her subsequent "Divine Madness" stint. After divorcing Beckmeyer in 1981, Sagal suffered further personal tragedy when her father was killed in a freak accident on the set of "World War III" (NBC, 1982), getting nearly decapitated after walking into the tail rotor blade of a helicopter. Sagal emerged from this dark period to rejoin The Harlettes for Midler's "De Tour," which started in 1982 and carried over into the following year.
Finding a comfortable niche as a backup singer, Sagal managed to do a backing vocal turn on the track "Soda and a Souvenir" from Midler's 1983 <No Frills (1983) album, while continuing forward throughout the early 1980s singing behind the likes of Tanya Tucker, Etta James, Olivia Newton-John and rockers Molly Hatchet. But once the mid-1980s came around, Sagal put aside her singing career to pursue acting fulltime. A lauded stage performance in "The Beautiful Lady" landed her the role of cynical, chain-smoking columnist Jo Tucker on the short-lived Mary Tyler Moore sitcom, "Mary" (CBS, 1985-86). But the experience was not without its benefits, as "Mary" producer Ron Leavitt decided to audition Sagal for a new series he was developing with Michael Moye for Fox called "Married with Children." Sagal landed what would become her most famous role, playing the voluptuous, but crass bonbon-eating housewife Peggy Bundy, who traded razor-sharp barbs with her lay-about shoe salesman husband, Al (Ed O'Neil), while phoning in her mother duties raising their airhead daughter (Christina Applegate) and socially inept son (David Faustino).
What made Sagal's take on the character truly unique was her desire to spoof on the classic television moms from the 1950s, which led to wearing a red bouffant hairdo, tight Spandex leggings and lethally high-heels - all of which spiced up her portrayal of a sex-starved wife who knew deep down she was past her prime. Though she appeared in the films "Maid to Order" (1987), "The Good Mother" (1988) and on a 1990 episode of "Tales from the Crypt" (HBO, 1989-1996), the role of Peg Bundy served as the main focus of Sagal's acting career for over a decade, which paid off handsomely when the show went into perpetual syndication after bestowing Sagal with four straight Golden Globe Award nominations from 1991-94. In a strange and eventually tragic turn of real-life events entering into the fictional world of "Married ," the producers decided to incorporate an expectant Sagal's pregnancy into the storyline. But when the actress suffered a stillbirth seven months into her pregnancy, the producers decided to rewrite the arc to make it appear to be a dream had by Al Bundy in order to help a devastated Sagal cope with the loss without having to see a baby on the set.
Rebounding on a personal level, Sagal found marriage bliss for the second time in 1993 with musician Jack White. By August 1994, she had given birth to daughter, Sarah Grace, while returning to music to record her first solo album, Well - also her first on-record material since performing lead vocals on the song "Loose Cannons," written for the 1990 film of the same name. She also took on a more harrowing acting role, playing the distraught mother of an abducted child in the made-for-television movie, "Trail of Tears" (NBC, 1995). Meanwhile, the cancellation of "Married with Children" in 1997 saw the industrious Sagal eager to segue back into series work, though she soon found tough-going because of being heavily identified as Peg Bundy - a problem that would plague her career for years to come. Turning to animation, she opted to take on the voice of Flo Spinelli on the Disney-animated series, "Recess" (1997-2001). Meanwhile, Sagal returned to making television movies, starring in both "Mr. Headmistress" (The Disney Channel, 1998) and "Chance of a Lifetime" (CBS, 1998). The following year, she played a dying mother in "God's New Plan" (CBS, 1999) and played the mother of Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson) on three episodes of the hit sitcom, "That 70s Show" (Fox, 1998-2006).
Following another Disney telefilm, "Smart House" (1999), Sagal was enlisted to embody the animated character of the purple-haired, one-eyed alien Turanga Leela on the new animated Fox series, "Futurama." (Fox, 1999-2003), created by Matt Groening of "The Simpsons" fame. Though somewhat sarcastic like Peg Bundy, Leela often proved to be the voice of reason amidst a cast of mutant characters who refuse to conform to their future society's rules. By 2000, Sagal and White would divorce, while she would try her hand at two more short-lived sitcoms, "Tucker" (NBC, 2000-01) and "Imagine That" (NBC, 2002). In 2003, Sagal would play a much more doting mother - one closer to herself - starring opposite her "Chance of a Lifetime" co-star John Ritter on the sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (ABC, 2002-05), based on the popular book of the same name. Cast as Cate Hennessey, Sagal played the level-headed wife to an uptight father Paul (Ritter) of two sexually maturing teenage daughters (Kaley Cuoco and Amy Davidson).
The show was a ratings winner in its first season and was poised to become the comedy centerpiece of its 2003-04 schedule until Ritter died suddenly from a tear in the wall of his aorta which was caused by an undiagnosed heart defect. The fact that he had collapsed and been sent to the hospital while rehearsing a season two episode was greatly upsetting to the cast, all of whom loved the veteran TV actor dearly. Renamed "8 Simple Rules," the show continued on half-heartedly, with Sagal carrying its weight and a series of paternal figures being brought on to replace Ritter, including James Garner and David Spade. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after the third season. As 2004 arrived, Sagal marked two more personal milestones - releasing her second album Room in June and marrying writer-producer Kurt Sutter in October. Following "8 Simple Rules," Sagal appeared in two made-for-television movies, "Campus Confidential" (ABC Family, 2005) and "Three Wise Guys" (USA, 2005). Continually reinventing her persona in the wake of Peggy Bundy, Sagal put in a dramatic appearance on the gritty, groundbreaking crime series, "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08), in a season one episode written by her husband. She played the embittered and long-suffering wife of alcoholic cop and corrupt protector of Vick Mackey (Michael Chiklis), Ben Gilroy (John Diehl), a role she later reprised several years later during the long-running show's final season.
Sagal was one of many prominent guest stars to make an appearance on the sci-fi drama, "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010), on which she played Helen, the former girlfriend and lost love of Locke (Terry O'Quinn). Branching out into features, she had the indie features "I'm Reed Fish" (2007) and "Just Add Water" (2008) - the latter featuring her "Mary" director Danny DeVito. She then returned to the much-beloved part of Leela for the full-length animated feature, "Futurama: Bender's Big Score" (2007), before landing recurring parts on "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-09) and the short-lived "Eli Stone" (ABC, 2007-09). Meanwhile, if there were any remnants of Peggy Bundy lingering in her image, they were completely obliterated when she landed a regular series role on the biker drama, "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 2008-14), which was created by husband Kurt Sutter. Sagal played the scheming, amoral Gemma Morrow, the matriarch of a Hells Angels-like biker gang that sells automatic weapons, while keeping the streets of fictional Charming, CA free from drug dealers and real estate developers. Though unafraid to challenge all comers - even to the point of smashing them in the face with a skateboard - Gemma often finds herself torn between her husband, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), president of the Sons of Anarchy, and her son, Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Clay's younger, more progressive-minded rival. While praised by critics, the show was often overlooked for awards recognition, particularly Sagal's layered performance. That changed in January 2011 when she earned a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Cast in a small role as a receptionist in an episode of NBC's "Columbo" (directed by her father)
Performed as a backing vocalist for various singers, including Bob Dylan and Tanya Tucker
TV-movie debut, "The Dream Makers" (NBC), produced and directed by her father, Boris Sagal
Was asked by Gene Simmons to sing background vocals on Kiss' "Calling Dr. Love" from the album, <i>Rock and Roll Over</i>
Sang backup for Bette Midler's tour as one of The Harlettes
Returned to television as the cynical, chain-smoking columnist, Jo Tucker in the short-lived CBS series "Mary"
Made feature acting debut in "Maid to Order"
Breakthrough role as Peg Bundy on the FOX sitcom "Married... with Children"
Released first solo album, <i>Well</i>
Played Edna Hyde, Steven Hyde's mother, in three episodes of "That '70s Show" (FOX)
Cast as the voice of Turanga Leela in Matt Groening's cartoon comedy "Futurama" (FOX)
Returned to series TV in the short-lived NBC sitcom "Tucker"
Cast as the wife of John Ritter in the ABC sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter"
Released second album, <i>Room</i>
Guest starred on two episodes of the FX drama "The Shield"
Had a recurring guest role on "Lost"
Had a recurring role on the third season of "Boston Legal" (ABC)
Co-starred in screenwriter, Reed Fish's semi-autobiographical tale about seizing the day, "I'm Reed Fish"
Cast as Gemma Morrow, the Machiavellian matriarch of a motorcycle gang, in FX's "Sons of Anarchy"
Played Annora of the Alders on the short-lived drama "The Bastard Executioner"
Had a recurring guest role on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Began starring as Randy DeLuca on the sitcom "Superior Donuts"