Date of Birth
January 19, 1954
Place of Birth
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Catherine Louise Sagal was born on January 19, 1954 in Los Angeles, California to a show business family with five children. Her father, Boris Sagal, a Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant, was a television director, while her mother, Sara Zwilling, was a singer (stage name Sara Macon), a producer and a television writer. Three of Sagal’s siblings, twin sisters Jean and Liz Sagal and brother Joey Sagal, are all actors. Her other brother, David Sagal, is an attorney. The eldest of the children, she and her siblings all grew up in Brentwood, Los Angeles.
In 1975, when she was only 21, her mother died of a heart disease, and a couple of years later her father married actress and dancer Marge Champion, to whom he stayed married until his sudden and tragic death, in 1981, during the production of miniseries World War III.
Katey graduated at Palisades High School and attended the California Institute of the Arts for a semester before dropping out.
Having such deep roots into performing arts with such an eclectic family, Sagal knew very early about her connection to music and began her career in show business as a singer and songwriter. In 1973, she worked as a backing vocalist for various singers, including Bob Dylan, Etta James, and Tanya Tucker. In 1976, while a member of The Group with No Name, she contributed to the album Moon over Brooklyn (on which she was credited as “Katie Sagal”). Additionally, she was also a member of Bette Midler’s backup group The Harlettes in 1978, and again from 1982 to 1983.
She performed backing vocals on the self-titled Gene Simmons solo album, the Molly Hatchet album Take No Prisoners and on Olivia Newton-John’s 1985 single “Soul Kiss”. Sagal also performed the song “It’s the Time for Love” that appears in the Chuck Norris’ movie Silent Rage, and provided the vocals for the theme song on Loose Cannons, the 1990 movie of the same name featuring Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd.
Her music career would start expanding with publication of her first solo album, Well… on April 19, 1994, followed by a second album, Room, on June 1, 2004 and contributing with performances on several tv-shows. The Sons of Anarchy soundtrack is among these.
During these years, Sagal, married three times. With Freddy Beckmeier, in 1977 from whom she divorced in 1981; with Jack White, in 1993, with whom she shares two children (Sarah Grace and Jackson James White), divorcing in 2000; and in 2004, she married screenwriter, director, producer and actor, Kurt Sutter, with whom she had one daughter, Esmé Louise. They are still married to this day.
While still solidly keeping her music career active, during the 1970s, Katey landed a few small roles on various tv movies and shows, such as The Failing of Raymond (1971), The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1972), Columbo (1973 – directed by her father), Larry (1974) The Dream Makers and Three for the Road, both in 1975.
Sagal’s first major role was as a newspaper columnist in the series Mary (1985–86) starring Mary Tyler Moore, which led to her being cast as Peggy Bundy on the sitcom Married… with Children (1987–1997), in which she portrayed the lower-class, sex-starved, lazy and free-spending wife of shoe salesman Al Bundy. The series was a good success that ran for 11 years.
During a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Sagal recalls bringing her own red bouffant wig to audition for the role, and with the producers’ approval, the look transitioned into the show. However, Sagal later explained that she had initially styled her own hair, then once the show took off, the producers began to invest in a wig. In other interviews, she also mentioned dolling-up for the audition, thinking to go in disguise in case it didn’t go well, so she could still keep having a career as musician.
The years of Married… with Children were the busiest so far but also most difficult in her life. In 1991, in between season 5 and 6, Sagal learned that she was pregnant and being it unexpected, the pregnancy was written into the storyline of the show. In October 1991, however, she had to have an emergency caesarean section in her eigth month of pregnancy, ending in the stillbirth of a daughter, Ruby. During the years she will be openly talking about this traumatic event of her life and addressing it as an inspiration to the lyrics of her song “(You) Can’t Hurry the Harvest.”, which appears in her first album. Following this event, when Sagal got pregnant with her two children during the filming of the show, the production decided not to write pregnancies into the show anymore, and during her maternity leaves Peg’s absence is often explained as she is visiting the family and Sagal briefly makes a cameo over the phone.
During the airing of the tv-show, Sagal also starred in other movies and tv-series, such as Maid to Order (1987), The Good Mother (1988) alongside Diane Keaton, Tales from the Crypt (1990) and a few tv movies as well: as Susan Essex in She Says She’s Innocent (1991), Trail of Tears (1995) in the protagonist role of Annie Cook.
Following the end of Married… with Children, several more television films followed; Sagal also guest starred on the children’s cartoon Recess as the voice of Spinelli’s mother. In 1998, Matt Groening chose her to provide the character voice of the purple-haired mutant spaceship captain, Leela, in his science-fiction animated comedy Futurama. The show developed a cult following, but was cancelled after four seasons. However, syndication on Adult Swim and Comedy Central increased the show’s popularity and led Comedy Central to commission a season of Futurama direct-to-DVD films, which the network later retransmitted as a 16-episode fifth season. She reprised her role as Leela in these films, and in the sixth season that began airing June 24, 2010, as well as in a cross-over episode with The Simpsons. The series ended in 2013. Sagal also guest-starred as Edna Hyde, Steven Hyde’s mother, in three episodes of That ’70s Show and acted in the short-lived NBC sitcom Tucker in 2000.
After starring together with John Ritter on Chance of a Lifetime (1998), when his new tv-series 8 Simple Rules… for Dating My Teenage Daughter (2002) started casting for the role of his wife, Ritter himself demanded that they hired Katey Sagal or he threatened he would not be doing it. Thankfully the network listened to his demands, and for three seasons she became Cate Hennessy, the matriarch of the Hennessy family. Unfortunately, at the very beginning of season 2 in 2003, John Ritter passed away on the set. He had only shot three episodes of that season and the writers had to add his character’s passing into the storyline. The show continued without his leading man for another season and half before cancellation.
In 2005 and 2006, Sagal made two appearances on Lost as Helen Norwood and in 2007, she had a role in the season finale of The Winner as Glen Abbot’s former teacher, with whom Glen has his first sexual experience.
The real-deal that sealed a big change for Sagal came in 2008 when she signed on playing the role of Gemma Teller Morrow on the FX’s tv show Sons of Anarchy, whose creator is her husband Kurt Sutter (married in a private ceremony on October 2, 2004). The drama show, did not simply and only give her a job for seven years, but also opened the doors to the fame on another world of television, that was completely different from the fame and success as Peggy Bundy. Sons of Anarchy changed the tones completely, showing its audience that the actress could be extremely versatile and excel in any aspect of the job. Loving or hating, her character, as it is supposed to be following the storyline, Gemma is a badass matriarch, made that peculiar by Sagal’s excellent acting skills.
Between 2009 and 2010, she appeared in more tv-shows and movies, reuniting with Married… With Children co-star David Faustino (Bud Bundy) on his web-series Star-ving (2009), playing the wife of Danny DeVito in House Broken (2009), to finally appear twice more on Lost (2010) and returnign to the stage in Randy Newman’s musical Harps & Angels (2010).
The years between shooting for Sons of Anarchy and giving her voice to Futurama have been the busiest ever for her, but she never quite really stopped acting and doing music. In 2012, she took part into a short video titled Grandsons of Anarchy to then move, the year following, onto a guest episode in Glee, as Nancy Abrams, Artie Abrams’ mother.
At the beginning of September 2014, Katey was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where most of the Married … with Children cast – Ed O’Neill, Christina Applegate and David Faustino – were present to celebrate the actress’ recognition.
In the following years, Sagal gave her voice for a couple of projects, Regular Show (2014) and A to Z (2014-2015) to ultimately land a series of mothers roles in Pitch Perfect 2, in 2015, and Bleed for This, in 2016. That same year she will be playing yet another maternal role to Penny (Kaley Cuoco) in The Big Bang Theory, reuniting to her on-screen eldest daughter from 8 Simple Rules.
Some TV movies and shows follow in the years between 2016 and 2017, for NBC’s This Is Us (2016), Furst Born (2016), the remake of 1987’s Dirty Dancing (2017) and a two-episodes guest starring role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2016-2017). Starting from 2017 and going for a two seasons run, Sagal served as a regular on CBS’s comedy series Superior Donuts, in the role of Officer Randy DeLuca, a police officer of italian origins, daughter of Arthur’s (Judd Hirsch) best friend. Sagal and Hirsch would reunite from their previous roles as mother and father of marrying couple in The Big Bang Theory, respectively of Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Despite an initial good set of ratings in season one, that brought the network to renew the show for a second season, ultimately this one did not perform as expected and the show was cancelled.
In between takes from shows and movies, Sagal focused on writing and publishing a memoir book Grace Notes: My Recollections, in which she takes her readers through the highs and lows of her life, from the tragic deaths of her parents to her long years in the Los Angeles rock scene, from being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 28 to getting her big break on the beloved sitcom Married… with Children.
For the following years, she went on doing another round of guest starring and voice-over works for a couple of years in Shameless and Spirit Riding Free, and appeared very shortly in a cameo, in 2018, on the Sons of Anarchy spin-off series Mayans M.C., reprising her role of Gemma Teller Morrow one more time.
In 2019 she first starred in three episodes of tv-series Grand Hotel to then slide on a movie, still for television, titled Nana that centers on an obsessive, overprotective dad, who after the death of his wife, is forced to invite his brash and bawdy mother-in-law.
The year before, we found Sagal as a guest star in one episode of first season of The Conners, Roseanne’s spin-off series. She played the role of Louise Goldufski, a high-school friend of Dan and Roseanne, who always had a crush on Dan, but since Roseanne had put her brand on him, no one could get close, so she ultimately fled the city with her rock band. Initially, the production introduced this character to see what the audience would think, and that’s why she was not given more than one episode, and when they realized the plot was interesting to the viewers and they enjoyed the character, they gave Sagal a opportunity to return in a few episodes in season two and three, during which her character’s relationship with Dan moves to the next level. The show is currently in its fourth season and Katey is still playing her role of Louise, now newly Mrs. Conner, but figures as a regular character and not one of the main ones.
At the beginning of May 2020, fans of the Netflix show Dead to Me, with Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, were incredibly pleased to find out Applegate reunited with her on-screen mother from Married… with Children. In the show, Sagal plays a mother again, but this time to Judy Hale (Cardellini), and in the two episodes of season two she shared no scene with Applegate, but as the news of a third and final seasons of the show will be coming, there are good chances for Sagal to reprise her role and hopefully share a scene or two with her.
Meanwhile, after giving her voice for another Spirit Riding Free adventure, in 2021 Sagal returned to the small screen in a 10-episodes series, Rebel, in the role of Annie ‘Rebel’ Flynn Ray Bello, a dynamic and effortless legal advocate with a huge thirst for justice. The story is inspired by the life of Erin Brockovich, who also served as executive producer for the show. Despite the strong ratings and the vast audience, the network cancelled the show after only few episodes had aired. The fans have expressed all their disappointment in this decision launching a petition to demand it would be renewed or to find a new home for season two, but with no positive result.
During the summer of 2021, it was announced that Sagal will take part in a Blumhouse Television movie titled Tattered Hearts as Harper Dutch.
Through the prolific and intense years of acting, Katey Sagal never stopped doing music, which is her true big passion, and kept on doing music performances and winning awards for them. And among her musical talents, she not only has an incredibly deep and passionate singing voice, but can also play the guitar, bongos, tambourine and a güiro.
Among her interests are meditation and driving. She said once she would love to be able to painting, she even bought the necessary things for it but just stares at them. And she enjoys a lot watching home improvement shows, among which her favorites are Fixer Upper and Salvage Dawgs.
Sagal currently lives in Los Angeles, with husband Kurt Sutter and their daughter and a good selection of animals (as known to 2019) which includes an African gray parrot, a pair of diamond doves, two French Bulldogs named Lumpy and Lola, a few fish, and a labradoodle named Django who seems to be named “Katy’s Baby”.