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Kristy McNichol

Kristy McNichol

Kristy McNichol (born September 11, 1962) is an American actress and singer.[1]

McNichol is known for her roles as Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence on the television drama series Family and as Barbara Weston on the sitcom Empty Nest.[2]

Early life and career

McNichol was born in Los AngelesCalifornia,

Kristy appeared with her brother Jimmy in commercials and later, on her own, in guest appearances on such other series asStarsky and HutchThe Bionic WomanLove American Style and The Love Boat, thanks to family friend Desi Arnaz. Her first stint as a series regular came in the role of Patricia Apple in the short-lived CBS television series Apple’s Way (1974).

In 1976, McNichol was cast as Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence in the television drama series Family (1976–80), for which she earned two Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series (1977 and 1979). Many actors and actresses guest-starred on the show, including Helen HuntMichael J. Fox and Leif GarrettFamily, produced by Aaron Spelling, was considered a breakthrough for television drama that dealt with “real life” issues.[3]

In December 1977, Kristy appeared on The Carpenters at Christmas TV special, performing several musical numbers with the duo. In 1978, McNichol and her brother Jimmy made their own foray into music, recording an album, Kristy & Jimmy McNichol, for RCA Records. The album included the single “He’s So Fine” (a cover of The Chiffons‘ 1963 hit), which peaked at #70 on the Billboard chart. The McNichols promoted the album at New York’s Studio 54 discotech, with such other big-name celebrities in attendance as Brooke Shields. In December 1978, McNichol would appear in another Carpenters‘ holiday special, The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait, this time with Jimmy.

By this time, McNichol was one of the biggest teen stars of the era and appeared on various talk shows, including The Mike Douglas Show and Dinah!, as well as making several appearances on Battle of the Network Stars and other celebrity-based shows. Also in 1978, she starred in the acclaimed made-for-television film adaptation of Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier.

McNichol began her feature film career in the Burt Reynolds comedy The End in 1978. She later co-starred with Tatum O’NealMatt Dillon, and Cynthia Nixon in the hitcoming of age movie, Little Darlings, in 1980. Her performance in that film was acclaimed by many reviewers.[4] She appeared with Dennis Quaid and Mark Hamill in The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1981), for which, at age 19, she received an unprecedented six-figure salary. The same year, she co-starred in Neil Simon’s Only When I Laugh, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In the 1986 TV movie Women of Valor, about American nurses incarcerated in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II, and also appeared in two theatrical films in 1988: You Can’t Hurry Love and Two Moon Junction.

In 1988, McNichol played Barbara Weston on the NBC sitcom Empty Nest, a spin-off of The Golden Girls, alongside Richard Mulligan and Dinah Manoff. Kristy left the series in 1992 when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[5] She returned to the series for its final episode in 1995, her last screen appearance as an actress to date, though she went on to voice characters in the animated TV series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997) and Invasion America (1998).

Post-acting life

In June 2001, she stated:

“A lot of people have wondered what I’ve been up to. I retired from my career after 24 years. My feeling was that it was time to play my biggest part – myself! I must say that it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. So many fans are disappointed that I’m not currently acting; however, some may not realize that the process I’m in at this time is necessary and vital for my personal happiness and well-being.”[6]

After her retirement from the screen, McNichol taught acting at a private school in Los Angeles and devoted much of her time to charity work.[7] In 2012, McNichol came out as a lesbian, in the hopes that her openness would help young people who are bullied because of their sexuality.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1977 The Love Boat Linda Morley Television movie
1977 Black Sunday Unknown Scenes deleted
1978 The End Julie Lawson
1978 Like Mom, Like Me Jennifer Gruen Television movie
1978 Summer of My German Soldier Patty Bergen Television movie
1979 My Old Man Jo Butler Television movie
1980 Little Darlings Angel
1980 Blinded by the Light Janet Bowers
1981 The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia Amanda Child
1981 Only When I Laugh Polly Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1982 White Dog Julie Sawyer
1982 The Pirate Movie Mabel
1982 Aladdin and the Magic Lamp The Princess Voice
1984 Just the Way You Are Susan Berlanger
1985 Love, Mary Mary Groda-Lewis Television movie
1986 Dream Lover Kathy Gardner
1986 Women of Valor T.J. Nolan Television movie
1988 You Can’t Hurry Love Rhonda
1988 Two Moon Junction Patti Jean
1989 The Forgotten One Barbara Stupple
1990 Children of the Bride Mary Television movie
1991 Baby of the Bride Mary Television movie
1993 Mother of the Bride Mary Television movie


Year Title Role Notes
1973 Love, American Style Steffi Episode: “Love and the Unsteady Steady”
1974 Apple’s Way Rachel Episode: “The Lamb”
1974–1975 Apple’s Way Patricia Apple 14 episodes
1975 ABC Afterschool Special Jenna McPhail Episode: “Fawn Story
1976 ABC Afterschool Special Nina Beckwith Episode: “Me and Dad’s New Wife
1976 Starsky and Hutch Meg Episode: “The Hostages”
1976 Sara Unknown Episode: “Grandpa’s Girl”
1976 The Bionic Woman Amanda Cory Episode: “The Ghost Hunter”
1976 Starsky and Hutch Molly Edwards Episode: “Little Lost Girl”
1976–1980 Family Lilitia ‘Buddy’ Lawrence 86 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1977, 1979)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1977 The Love Boat Kelly Episode: “Graham and Kelly”
1977 ABC Afterschool Special Carlie Higgins Episode: “The Pinballs
1978 Starsky and Hutch Joey Carston Episode: “The Trap”
1988 Murder, She Wrote Jill Morton Episode: “Showdown in Saskatchewan”
1988–1995 Empty Nest Barbara Weston 100 episodes
1985–1992 The Golden Girls Barbara Weston 2 episodes
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Girl in Sub (voice) Episode: “Dry Spell”
1998 Invasion America Sgt. Angela ‘Angie’ Romar 13 episodes



Emmy, for Family
Emmy, for Family
People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Young Motion Picture Actress”
Young Artist Award, for Only When I Laugh


Emmy, for Family
Golden Globe, for Family
Emmy, for Family
Young Artist Award, for Family
Young Artist Award, for My Old Man and Little Darlings
Golden Globe, for Only When I Laugh


  1. Jump up^ “The New York Times”. 2007-01-18. Retrieved2014-06-29.
  2. Jump up^ Bloch, Jon P.; Naser, Jeffrey (2006). The Everything Health Guide To Adult Bipolar Disorder: Reassuring Advice to Help You Cope. Everything Books. p. 47.ISBN 9781605503417. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  3. Jump up^ “Family (1976),” The Internet Movie Database
  4. Jump up^ Ebert, Roger. “Review of “Little Darlings”” Retrieved May 26,2015.
  5. Jump up^ “Kristy McNichol”. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  6. Jump up^ “Where Are They Now? Kristy McNichol”. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  7. Jump up^ “Movies: Biography forKristy McNichol”The New York Times.
  8. Jump up^ Anonymous. “Kristy McNichol, ‘Empty Nest’ And ‘Family’ Actress, Comes Out As Lesbian In People Magazine”Huffington Post. Retrieved May 26, 2015.