Today is Teri Garr’s birthday, and StarTrek.com decided to mark the occasion by noting her greatest non-Star Trek roles. And there’s good reason for that. Garr not only made just one Trek appearance, playing Roberta in The Original Series episode “Assignment: Earth,” but she disliked the experience intensely and pretty much forever refused to discuss it. So, let’s celebrate more joyous credits:
Inga in Young Frankenstein — Mel Brooks’ classic comedy is full of laughs and heart, and much of that comes from Garr, who plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein’s (Gene Wilder) beautiful, not-too-bright assistant with the very, very, very thick accent. One of the biggest chuckles in the whole movie comes in the closing moments, when Inga learns just what Frederick got from the Monster in their swap.
Sandy in Tootsie — Garr was hysterical as the actress pal of Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), who dresses up as a woman to snag a soap opera role Sandy lost out on. The look on Sandy’s face when Dorsey reveals his/her secret live on the air is priceless, and it no doubt helped earn Garr the well-deserved Best Supporting Actress nomination she received for her work in this enduring, charming comedy.
Veronica “Ronnie” Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind — How would you react if your husband became increasingly obsessed with aliens after a close encounter? Garr delivered that reaction, and devastatingly so, even daring to come across as unsympathetic, in her dramatic turn in the Steven Spielberg sci-fi/drama.
Caroline Butler in Mr. Mom — This sleeper hit comedy followed the comedic adventures of Jack Butler (Michael Keaton), an engineer who loses his job, meaning his wife Caroline must re-enter the workforce as an advertising executive while he tends to their three kids at home. The film as a whole is too cute and utterly predictable, but there’s genuine chemistry between Garr and Keaton, and Garr’s character — smart, savvy, capable, in love with her family and her job — served as a positive role model for many young women.
Mrs. Ramsay in The Black Stallion — Garr appears in just a couple of scenes as the mother of the main character, Alec (Kelly Reno), a shipwrecked boy who befriends a horse and, once back home, trains the horse (who’s rescued with him) to race. It’s a beautiful, touching family film, and Garr gives a master class in doing something with nothing.
Teri Garr as… herself — Garr was diagnosed with MS in 1999, went public about it in 2002 and has advocated for MS education and research ever since. She’s served as a MS Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and wrote a book, Speedbumps, in 2005, about her life and illness. As she told Everyday Health in an interview, “Speaking out about multiple sclerosis to others who many be dealing with this disease is actually helpful to me, as well as, I hope, to others. It builds community, helps bring awareness to MS, and strengthens the MS movement that will ultimately lead to the end of this disease.”
Please join us in wishing Teri Garr a happy birthday.
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