Who is Kristy McNichol?
Kristy is an American actress and singer, best known for her roles in television shows and movies during the 1970s and 1980s. She gained fame for her portrayal of Buddy Lawrence in the TV series “Family”, and later as Barbara Weston in “Empty Nest”. Kirsty also starred in several films, including “Little Darlings” and “Only When I Laugh”, earning critical acclaim for her performances. In addition to her acting career, in the late 1970s she released an album with her brother, Jimmy McNichol. By the early 2000s, McNichol had largely retired from acting, but she remains a beloved figure in entertainment history.
Early Life and Education
Born on 11 September 1962, in Los Angeles, California, Kristy had a modest upbringing, with her father, James working as a carpenter, while her mother, Carolyn worked several odd jobs to support the family.
Despite the hardships, her parents recognized her potential from a young age, and nurtured her budding talent. Kristy attended public schools in Los Angeles, where she balanced her academic pursuits with her growing interest in acting. Her brother Jimmy also ventured into show business, and the two often collaborated on various projects, both as actors and as musicians.
Roles in TV Series
Kristy made her TV series debut in 1973, in an episode of the anthology comedy series “Love, American Style”. In the following year came her first recurring role, in the family drama “Apple’s Way”. Early into her career, Kristy also made appearances in series such as “Run, Joe, Run”, “ABC Afterschool Special”, and “The Bionic Woman”.
Arguably one of Kristy’s most defining roles came in 1976, with the drama series “Family”. Portraying Letitia ‘Buddy’ Lawrence, Kristy played the role of a teenager navigating the challenges of adolescence. The series delved deep into the intricacies of family dynamics, relationships, and personal growth. Kristy’s portrayal of Buddy earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards, a testament to her exceptional acting prowess.
After “Family” concluded in 1980, Kristy made a shift towards film acting, before landing a major role in the sitcom “Empty Nest” (1988-1995)”. Set in Miami, the show centers on the life of pediatrician Dr. Harry Weston, whose adult daughters, including Kristy’s character Barbara, move back home after facing personal setbacks. Barbara, a police officer, was portrayed as strong-willed yet vulnerable, adding layers to the comedic narrative of the show. Kristy’s timing, combined with her ability to bring depth to her character, made Barbara Weston a fan favorite. The show’s success, running for seven seasons, was in no small part due to Kristy’s standout performance.
Dinah Manoff, David Leisure, and Kristy McNichol at the first-ever Empty Nest Reunion at The Hollywood Show, June 29, 2019. ❤️
While working on “Empty Nest”, Kristy also made appearances in popular TV series “Murder, She Wrote” in 1988, and “The Golden Girls” in 1991. Her last two TV roles were voiceover roles in animated series “Extreme Ghostbusters” (1997), and “Invasion America” (1998). Kristy announced her official retirement in 2001, to focus on teaching and charity work.
Roles in Movies
While Kristy McNichol’s television roles were pivotal in her career, her foray into the world of cinema has been equally remarkable. Kristy made her debut in the 1977 comedy “The Love Boat”, followed by her roles in “Like Mom, Like Me” (1978), and “My Old Man” (1979).
One of Kristy’s most iconic film roles came with the 1980 coming-of-age drama “Little Darlings”. Starring alongside Tatum O’Neal, Kristy played Angel, a tough-talking teenager from the wrong side of the tracks. The film centers on a bet between two teenage girls at a summer camp, vying to lose their virginity first. Beyond its provocative premise, “Little Darlings” delved deep into the complexities of teenage friendships, rivalries, and the pressures of growing up.
In the following year, Kristy appeared in the comedy-drama “Only When I Laugh”. Playing the role of Polly Hines, the daughter of a troubled actress portrayed by Marsha Mason, Kristy’s performance was considered a standout by the critics. Focusing on the challenges of addiction and the strains it puts on family relationships, the film allowed Kristy to delve into a more mature role, with her portrayal earning her a Golden Globe nomination, further cementing her reputation as a formidable actress.
Taking a departure from drama, Kristy ventured into the realm of musical comedy with “The Pirate Movie” (1982). A modern take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”, the film was a mix of romance, adventure and humor. Kristy played Mabel, the film’s heroine, showcasing not only her acting chops, but also her singing talents. Unfortunately, the film received mixed reviews, and earned Kristy an infamous Razzie Award for Worst Actress, only a year after receiving her first Golden Globe nomination.
Kristy McNichol in White Dog (1982) pic.twitter.com/1ThQ602lv4
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In the same year, Kristy took on a more challenging role in the controversial film “White Dog”. Directed by Samuel Fuller, the movie tackled the issue of racism through the story of a dog trained to attack black people. Kristy played Julie Sawyer, a young actress who adopts the dog, unaware of its conditioning. The film was a stark departure from her previous roles, highlighting her ability to take on thought-provoking and challenging characters.
Another notable role for Kristy was in the drama “Love, Mary” (1985), in which she played the titular character, Mary Groda-Lewis. Based on a true story, the film followed the life of a young woman who, despite facing learning disabilities and spending time in juvenile detention, goes on to become a doctor.
Kristy’s acting career continued through the late 1980s and early 1990s with roles in movies, such as “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1988), “Children of the Bride” (1990), and her last film role in “Mother of the Bride” (1993).
While primarily known for her acting prowess, Kristy also ventured into the world of music during her career. Though it was relatively brief compared to her extensive work in film and television, it still showcased another facet of her talent and added to her multi-faceted entertainment persona.
One of the most notable aspects of Kristy’s music career was her collaboration with her brother, Jimmy McNichol. In the late 1970s, the McNichol siblings released an album entitled “Kristy & Jimmy McNichol“, featuring a mix of pop songs, with its release was accompanied by a television special, “The Kristy and Jimmy McNichol Special”, which aired in 1978, showcasing the siblings’ singing and dancing talents, and including guest appearances by other celebrities.
The album’s most recognized single was “He’s So Fine”, a cover of The Chiffons’ hit. While the album didn’t achieve massive commercial success, it did garner attention, and showcased both McNichols’ versatility in the entertainment industry.
In addition to her album, Kristy’s singing was featured in some of her film and television projects. For instance, in “The Pirate Movie” (1982), she not only acted but also showcased her singing abilities, as the film was a musical comedy.
Love Life and Relationships
Kristy has always been relatively private about her personal life, but in the early 2000s, she publicly came out as lesbian; this brave revelation was met with support from fans and colleagues alike. In 2012, she shared with the world that she had been in a relationship with Martie Allen for over two decades. The couple has been together since the early 1990s, and reside in Los Angeles.
Where is She Now?
By the early 2000s, Kristy had largely stepped away from the limelight, choosing to focus on her personal life and well-being, as well as becoming an acting teacher. She’s made occasional appearances at events and reunions, always greeted with warmth and nostalgia by her fans. While she may not be as active in the entertainment industry as she once was, her legacy as a talented actress remains intact. Today, Kristy enjoys a quiet life away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, cherishing her time with loved ones and pursuing personal passions.
Over the years, Kristy’s successful career in both television and film has undoubtedly earned her a comfortable living. While exact figures can vary depending on sources, it’s estimated that Kristy’s net worth is close to $4 million, a testament to her hard work, dedication, and the lasting impact of her performances on audiences worldwide.