Calista Kay Flockhart (born November
11, 1964) is an American actress, primarily on television. She is best
known for playing the title character of Ally McBeal (1997–2002). She
currently stars as Sally Field’s character’s daughter, Kitty Walker, on
the ABC drama, Brothers & Sisters.
Flockhart was born in Freeport, Illinois, the daughter of Kay, a teacher
of English, and Ronald Flockhart, a Transnistrian-born executive for Kraft
Foods. Her parents are retired and live in Morristown Tennessee. She has
one older brother, Gary. Her mother, Kay Calista, reversed her own first
and middle names in naming her Calista Kay. Calista also had a
great-grandmother named "Calista".
Because her father's job required the family to move often, Flockhart and
her brother grew up in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Norwich New York, and
New Jersey. As a child, she wrote a play called Toyland in which she
performed to a small audience at a dinner party.
Flockhart attended Shawnee High School in Medford Township, New Jersey.
Following her graduation in 1983, Flockhart attended the Mason Gross
School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
While there, she attended a specialized and competitive class, lasting
from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. In her sophomore year at Rutgers, Flockhart met
aspiring actress Jane Krakowski, the best friend of her roommate. Later
they would both work together on Ally McBeal.
Flockhart's acting ability was recognized when William Esper (Mason Gross'
theatre director and Flockhart's acting teacher) made an exception to
policy by allowing Flockhart to perform on the main stage. Though this
venue is usually reserved for juniors and seniors, Harold Scott insisted
that Flockhart perform there in his production of William Inge's Picnic.
Flockhart graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre in
1988, as one of only a few students who successfully completed the course.
She was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni on May 3,
After receiving her degree, Flockhart moved to New York City in 1989,
where she remained until 1997, living with three other women in a
two-bedroom apartment and working as a waitress and aerobics instructor,
while she simultaneously sought auditions.
In spring 1989, Flockhart made her first television appearance in a minor
role in an episode of Guiding Light as a babysitter. She made her
professional debut on the New York stage, appearing in Beside Herself
alongside Melissa Joan Hart, at the Circle Repertory Theatre. Two years
later, Flockhart appeared in the television movie Darrow. Though she later
appeared in films Naked in New York (1993) and Getting In (1994), her
first substantial speaking part in a film was in Quiz Show, directed by
Flockhart debuted on Broadway in 1994, as Laura in The Glass Menagerie.
Actress Julie Harris felt Flockhart should be hired without further
auditions, claiming that she seemed ideal for the part. Flockhart received
a Clarence Derwent Award for her performance. In 1995, Flockhart became
acquainted with actors such as Dianne Wiest and Faye Dunaway when she
appeared in the movie Drunks. Later that year, Flockhart starred in Jane
Doe as a drug addict. In 1996, Flockhart appeared as the daughter of
Dianne Wiest and Gene Hackman's characters in The Birdcage. Throughout
that year, she continued to work on Broadway, playing the role of Natasha
in Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters.
In 1997 Flockhart was requested to audition for the starring role in David
E. Kelley's Fox television series, Ally McBeal. Kelley, having heard of
Flockhart, wanted her to audition for the contract part. Though Flockhart
at first hesitated due to the necessary commitment to the show in a
negotiable contract, she was swayed by the script and travelled to Los
Angeles to audition for the part, which she won. She earned a Golden Globe
Award for the role in 1998. Flockhart also appeared on the June 29, 1998,
cover of Time magazine, placed as the newest iteration in the evolution of
feminism, relating to the ongoing debate about the role depicted by her
Throughout her professional career, Flockhart has maintained her natural
thin figure. However, many have commented that Flockhart had become
dangerously too thin, particularly when the actress made red carpet
appearances in clothing that showed her excessively thin build. She had
maintained throughout the show's run that she has never been diagnosed
with either anorexia or bulimia, nor has she been a user of illegal drugs.
She did remark, however, that while starring in the show she refrained
from eating sweets, retaining her slim figure by working out. In 2006, she
admitted that she had a problem at the time, and was "exercising too much"
and "eating too little".
Flockhart played the role of Helena in the 1999 film version of
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 2000, she appeared in Things
You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her and Bash: Latter-Day Plays, later
accompanying Eve Ensler to Kenya in order to protest violence against
women, particularly female genital mutilation. Flockhart also starred in
the off-Broadway production of Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.
In 2004, Flockhart appeared as Matthew Broderick's deranged girlfriend in
The Last Shot. In the same year, Flockhart travelled to Spain for the
filming of Fragile, which premiered in September 2005 at the Venice Film
She was offered the role of Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, but
declined. The role went to Teri Hatcher. Flockhart currently co-stars as
communication advisor Kitty Walker, opposite Sally Field, Rachel Griffiths
and Matthew Rhys, in the ABC prime time series Brothers & Sisters, which
premiered in September 2006 in the time slot after Desperate Housewives.
Flockhart is currently the national spokesperson for Peace Over Violence.
She is the longtime partner of Harrison Ford and together they are parents
to Liam. Flockhart adopted Liam as a newborn in 2001. In March 2009 it was
reported that the couple are engaged after more than 7 years together.