Family & Companions
Actress Talia Balsam graduated from youthful supporting roles to more mature and complex character turns over the course of a career that included such popular film and television projects as "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987-1991), "Mad Men" (AMC, 2007-2015) and "The Good Wife" (CBS, 2009-2016). Born March 5, 1959 in New York City, she was the daughter of Oscar-winning character actor Martin Balsam and his second wife, actress Joyce Van Patten. The couple split in 1962, and their daughter was educated at the Treehaven School in Arizona from 1971 to 1974. She made her acting debut in 1977 on a notorious multi-part episode of "Happy Days" in Henry Winkler's "Fonzie" jumped over a shark in a water tank, and from there, worked steadily on episodic television for much of the 1970s and 1980s. She made her feature film debut in 1979's "Sunnyside," a vehicle intended to launch the career of John Travolta's brother Joey, and would appear in a handful of pictures throughout the decade - most notably "Mass Appeal" (1984) with Jack Lemmon and the thriller "Crawlspace" (1986) opposite Klaus Kinski - but television was her primary showcase during the period. Among her more notable small screen appearances was as Judd Hirsch's estranged daughter on two episodes of "Taxi" (ABC/NBC, 1978-1982), a guest role as the daughter of her father's character, Murray Klein, on "Archie Bunker's Place" (CBS, 1979-1983) and the made-for-TV movies "OHMS" (1980) with Ralph Waite, and "Kent State" (1981). In 1989, Balsam married actor George Clooney, then a decade before his rise to stardom; the couple remained together until 1993. She remained busy during and after the marriage, now working in more adult roles on series like "thirtysomething" and "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09), and eventually married again, wedding actor John Slattery in 1998. With the new millennium also came more substantive feature projects, including the independent dramas "Little Manhattan" (2005) and as the long-suffering wife of political bully Sean Penn in Steve Zaillian's remake of "All the King's Men" (2006). Balsam also enjoyed one of her most high-profile projects when she was cast as Mona Sterling, the tart-tongued but infinitely patient ex-spouse of hard-drinking ad executive Roger Sterling (played by her husband) on "Mad Men." When that celebrated series ran its course, Balsam continued her busy schedule as an in-demand character player, logging repeat appearances on "The Good Wife", "Homeland" (Showtime, 2012- ) and enjoying cast member status on "Divorce" (HBO, 2016- ) as a close friend of Sarah Jessica Parker's newly separated lead.