Glenne Headly
Glenne Headly seen in 2014 at the Broadway opening night party of "Sticks and Stones." Credit: Getty Images

Glenne Headly, esteemed character actress and member of Chicago’s prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre Company, has died, Deadline has reported. She was only 63.

Headly was one of those “Hey, I know her!” actresses. If you were a moviegoer in the late ’80s and ’90s, she was a familiar face, frequently popping up in Hollywood fare. One of her biggest roles was as the female lead in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” — the bumbling heiress targeted by conmen Steve Martin and Michael Caine, who [spoiler!] turns out to be an even better grifter than they are.

In movies, Headly was often cast as fragile and funny, warm yet vulnerable. When Warren Beatty needed a Tess Trueheart, his yellow-raincoated mob-buster’s wholesome ladyfriend in 1990’s “Dick Tracy,” he turned to her. She was Richard Dreyfuss’ supportive wife in “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” and reunited with Steve Martin for his instantly forgotten “Sgt. Bilko.” Onscreen, she was one of those female performers Hollywood casts when she’s young, then largely forgets about as she gets older.

But Headly contained multitudes. She always had theater, and she always had TV. She spent nine episodes on “ER,” and she earned two Emmy nominations, one for “Lonesome Dove,” another for “Bastard Out of Carolina.” She played the mother of Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, on “Parks and Recreation.”


More recently, Headly was on HBO’s “The Night Of,” playing the lawyer who represents Riz Ahmed’s collegiate murder suspect. She was reportedly busy shooting “Future Man,” Seth Rogen’s forthcoming Hulu comedy, when she died. It’s not clear how the show will handle her passing.

As of this writing, there is no cause of death. Her representatives simply told Deadline, “It is with deep sorrow that we confirm the passing of Glenne Headly. We ask that her family’s privacy be respected in this difficult time.” 

Honor her life and work by watching, among other things, this fine clip from "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels":

Latest From ...