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Marg Helgenberger

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Title: Marg Helgenberger  
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Subject: China Beach, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Intelligence (U.S. TV series), Species (film), Species II
Collection: 1958 Births, 20Th-Century American Actresses, 21St-Century American Actresses, Actresses from Nebraska, American Film Actresses, American People of German Descent, American People of Irish Descent, American Television Actresses, Living People, Northwestern University Alumni, Northwestern University School of Communication Alumni, Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Primetime Emmy Award Winners, People from Fremont, Nebraska
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Marg Helgenberger

Marg Helgenberger
Helgenberger at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International
Born Mary Marg Helgenberger
(1958-11-16) November 16, 1958
Fremont, Nebraska, United States
Other names Mary Helgenberger
Occupation Actress
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Alan Rosenberg (m. 1989–2010)
Children 1

Mary Marg Helgenberger (born November 16, 1958) is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Catherine Willows in the CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000–2012, 2013) and the subsequent TV movie Immortality (2015) and as K.C. Koloski in the ABC drama China Beach (1988–1991), which earned her the 1990 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

She has also starred in the TV series Under the Dome, Intelligence, and Ryan's Hope, and the films Species (1995), Species II (1998), Erin Brockovich (2000), and Mr. Brooks (2007).


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
  • Awards and nominations 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Helgenberger was born in Fremont, Nebraska, to Mary Kay (née Bolte), a nurse, and Hugh Helgenberger, a meat inspector.[1][2] She was raised in North Bend, Nebraska, where she graduated from North Bend Central High School. Helgenberger is of Irish and German descent[3] and had a Roman Catholic upbringing.[4] She has one older sister named Ann and a younger brother named Curt. Helgenberger played the French horn in her high school marching band. Until she went to college, Helgenberger aspired to be a nurse like her mother but attended Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) in Kearney, Nebraska, then attended Northwestern University's School of Speech in Evanston, Illinois, (now the School of Communication) and earned a B.S. degree in speech and drama.[5]


Helgenberger at the 1990 Emmy Awards

Helgenberger began as a nightly weather person at KHGI-TV in Kearney, Nebraska, while attending college (her name was changed by the producer to Margi McCarty). During the summer she also worked as a deboner at her father's meat packing plant. After portraying the role of Blanche Dubois in a university production of A Streetcar Named Desire, she developed an interest in acting.

While performing in a summer 1981 NU campus production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, where she played Kate, Helgenberger was spotted by a scout for the TV soap opera Ryan's Hope. Soon after completing college, Helgenberger landed her first professional role on the long-running ABC Daytime soap opera in March 1982, playing amateur cop Siobhan Ryan Novak DuBujak, a role previously played by Ann Gillespie. After nearly four years, Helgenberger left the show in January 1986 to pursue new opportunities.

Helgenberger guest starred in an episode of the ABC series Spenser: For Hire, NBC's Matlock and ABC's thirtysomething. She also played a regular role as Natalie Thayer, opposite Margot Kidder and James Read, on the six-episode drama comedy series Shell Game (1987).

She then had a role as Karen Charlene "K.C." Koloski, a heroin-addicted prostitute on the ABC war drama series China Beach from 1988 to 1991. The role earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1990.

In 1989, Helgenberger made her feature film debut in a leading role as an all-night answering service operator in one segment of the Wheat brothers’ horror anthology After Midnight. She followed it up with a role in Steven Spielberg's romantic comedy-drama Always (starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman), a modern version of the original 1943 Victor Fleming film A Guy Named Joe.

During the early to mid-1990s, Helgenberger played the love interest to Woody Harrelson's character in The Cowboy Way (1994), and had a small role as Capt. Alison Sinclair in Michael Bay's action comedy film Bad Boys (1995). She also played Dr. Laura Baker, a molecular biologist, in Roger Donaldson's sci-fi thriller, Species (1995), and reprised the role in the sequel, Species II (1998).

Helgenberger had roles in the television films Not on the Frontline and In Sickness and in Health. She played opposite ER, Helgenberger appeared as David Caruso's sex-starved widow on Showtime’s Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast. She starred with Steven Seagal in the 1997 action film Fire Down Below and portrayed the furious sibling to Steven Weber's character on the miniseries about the elusive Gulf War Syndrome, Thanks of a Grateful Nation. She also starred opposite Ann-Margret in Showtime's Happy Face Murders.

In 2000, Helgenberger made a guest appearance in the Valentine's Day episode of Frasier, in which Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) finally wears down his dad Martin's resistance and gets the older man to accompany him to the opera. Actually, this invitation is but a smokescreen, so that Frasier can "accidentally" run into his newest dream girl Emily (Helgenberger).

Helgenberger co-starred in the role of Catherine Willows, a former show girl employed as a blood spatter analyst on the CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Her performance as the female lead has earned her two Emmy Award and two Golden Globe nominations. In 2005, she and her fellow cast members won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. When CSI first started filming, Helgenberger visited the Clark County Coroner’s Office to learn about her role, even viewing autopsies in progress. Helgenberger got the chance to act with her husband, Alan Rosenberg, when he guest starred on CSI, Season 5 ("Weeping Willows") and Season 7 ("Leaving Las Vegas").

During her time on the show, Helgenberger acted in the feature film Erin Brockovich and portrayed Patsy Ramsey on the miniseries about the mysterious murder of 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey in Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. She also starred as Dennis Quaid’s wife and Scarlett Johansson’s mother in writer-director Paul Weitz's romantic drama comedy In Good Company (2004).

In 2006, Helgenberger’s hometown of North Bend, Nebraska, renamed the street on which Helgenberger had her childhood home "Helgenberger Avenue."

In 2007, she was in the film Mr. Brooks with Kevin Costner in which her character's daughter is played by Danielle Panabaker, the sister of Kay Panabaker, who plays her fictional daughter on CSI.

In April 2008, Helgenberger was chosen as an endorser of the Got Milk? campaign.[6]

In December 2009, Forbes magazine placed Helgenberger third amongst prime-time's top-earning women with estimated earnings of $9.5 million, after Tyra Banks and Katherine Heigl.[7]

Helgenberger received the 2,458th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 23, 2012 for her television work.[8][9]

She lent her voice as Greek goddess Hera to the straight-to-video animated film Wonder Woman.[10]

Following William Petersen's departure from CSI, Helgenberger became one of the two highest paid actors in any of the CSI franchises, earning $375,000 per episode, the same as David Caruso, and $25,000 more per episode than Laurence Fishburne.[11]

Helgenberger only appeared in the first twelve episodes of the twelfth season of CSI, as she wanted to return to the stage. The producers said they left the door open for Helgenberger if she wanted to return. Helgenberger left the show on January 25, 2012, during a two-part episode ("Ms. Willows Regrets" and "Willows in the Wind"). The last one was the most watched episode of the season with 14.26 million viewers.[12]

Helgenberger also starred as Lilian Strand in the series Intelligence alongside Josh Holloway and Meghan Ory.[13] Additionally, she briefly returned to CSI as Catherine for the 300th episode.[14] In February 2015, she joined the third season of Under the Dome.[15]

Personal life

In 1984, Helgenberger met Alan Rosenberg, a guest actor on Ryan's Hope. The two became friends and started dating in 1986. They married in 1989 and have one son, Hugh Howard Rosenberg (b. 1990), named after Helgenberger's late father. On December 1, 2008, the couple announced that they were separating, and on March 25, 2009, she filed for divorce.[16][17] Their divorce was finalized in February 2010.[18]

As a result of Helgenberger's mother's 27-year battle against breast cancer, Helgenberger and Rosenberg became involved in the fight against breast cancer and have hosted a benefit called Marg and Alan's Celebrity Weekend annually in Omaha since 1999.


Helgenberger at a ceremony for Jerry Bruckheimer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in June 2013
Year Title Role Notes
1982 Tootsie Suzanne
1989 After Midnight Alex
1989 Always Rachel
1990 Peacemaker Mrs. Cooper
1990 Blind Vengeance Virginia Whitelaw TV movie
1991 Crooked Hearts Jennetta
1991 Death Dreams Crista Westfield TV movie
1992 In Sickness and in Health Mickey TV movie
1992 Through the Eyes of a Killer Laurie Fisher TV movie
1993 Partners Georgeanne Bidwell TV movie
1993 The Tommyknockers Roberta "Bobbi" Anderson Miniseries
1993 Distant Cousins Connie
1993 The Seduction of John Hearn Debbie Banister TV movie
1994 Keys Maureen Kickasola TV movie
1994 Lie Down with Lions Kate Nessen TV movie
1994 Where Are My Children? Vanessa Meyer Vernon Scott TV movie
1994 The Cowboy Way Margarette
1995 Just Looking Darlene Carpenter
1995 Bad Boys Capt. Alison Sinclair
1995 Species Dr. Laura Baker
1995 Inflammable Kay Dolan TV movie
1996 Frame by Frame Det. Rose Ekberg
1996 My Fellow Americans Joanna Uncredited
1997 Fire Down Below Sarah Kellogg
1997 The Last Time I Committed Suicide Lizzy
1997 Gold Coast Karen DiCilia TV movie
1998 Giving Up the Ghost Anna Hobson TV movie
1998 Species II Dr. Laura Baker
1998 Thanks of a Grateful Nation Jerrilynn Folz TV movie
1999 Happy Face Murders Jen Powell
1999 Lethal Vows Ellen Farris
2000 Erin Brockovich Donna Jensen
2000 Perfect Murder, Perfect Town Patsy Ramsey TV movie
2004 In Good Company Ann Foreman
2007 Mr. Brooks Mrs. Emma Brooks
2008 Columbus Day Alice
2009 Wonder Woman Hera
2009 Conan: Red Nail Princess Tascela
2016 Holding Patterns Samantha Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
1982–1986 Ryan's Hope Siobhan Ryan Contract role
1986 Spenser: For Hire Nancy Kettering Episode: "An Eye for an Eye"
1987 Shell Game Natalie Thayer 6 episodes
1987 Matlock Laura Norwood Episode: "The Gambler"
1988–1991 China Beach Karen Charlene Koloski Series regular, 61 episodes
1991 Tales from the Crypt Vicky Episode: "Deadline"
1991 The Hidden Room Jane Episode: "A Friend in Need"
1993 Fallen Angels Eve Cressy Episode: "I'll Be Waiting"
1995 The Larry Sanders Show Susan Elliot Episode: "Nothing Personal"
1996 ER Karen Hines 5 episodes
2000 Frasier Emily Episode: "Out with Dad"
2000–2012, 2013 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Catherine Willows Series regular, 263 episodes
Special guest star, 1 episode
2004 King of the Hill Mrs. Hanover Episode: "Hank's Back"
2014 Intelligence Lilian Strand Series regular, 13 episodes
2015 Under the Dome Christine Price Guest star[19]
2015 CSI: Immortality Catherine Willows TV Movie, special guest star.

Awards and nominations

Blockbuster Entertainment Award

  • 2001: nominated – Favorite Supporting Actress in a Drama – Erin Brockovich

Emmy Award

  • 1990: won – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1991: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1992: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
  • 2001: nominated – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – CSI
  • 2003: nominated – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – CSI

Golden Globe Award

  • 1991: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – China Beach
  • 2002: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – CSI
  • 2003: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – CSI

Satellite Awards

  • 2002: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Drama – CSI

People's Choice Awards

  • 2002: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI
  • 2003: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI
  • 2004: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI
  • 2005: won – Favorite Female TV Star – CSI
  • 2005: won – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • 2005: won the Screen Actors Guild Award – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI

TV Guide Awards

  • 2001: nominated – Actress of the Year in a New Series – CSI

Viewers For Quality Television Awards

  • 1989: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1990: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach
  • 1991: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach


  1. ^ Marg Helgenberger Biography (1958–). Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  2. ^ Marg Helgenberger Biography – Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  3. ^ Watson, Bret. (1996-05-17) HELGENBERGER HELPER | E/R | Television News | TV | Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  4. ^ Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  5. ^ A&E Biography: MARG HELGENBERGER: DON’T CALL ME MARGBiography (TV series) TV Episode Premiere Date: April 2, 2003 PRODUCED BY: CBS News Productions for A&E Network
  6. ^ Milk Mustache Celebrities Marg Helgenberger
  7. ^
  8. ^ News Updates | Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  9. ^ "Marg Helgenberger Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame". January 23, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  10. ^ Wonder Woman. Comics Continuum (2008-12-18). Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  11. ^ How Much Do Your Favorite TV Stars Get Paid?. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Lee, Ken. (2009-03-25) CSI Star Marg Helgenberger Files for Divorce. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links

  • Marg Helgenberger on Twitter
  • Marg Helgenberger at the Internet Movie Database
  • Marg Helgenberger Biography online at CSI on CBS
  • All About Marg, a fansite devoted to Marg Helgenberger (2003–present)
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