Dinah Beth Manoff (born January 25, 1958) is an American stage, film and television actress and television director best known for her roles as Elaine Lefkowitz on Soap, Marty Maraschino in the film Grease, Libby Tucker in both the stage and film adaptations of I Ought to Be in Pictures, for which she won a Tony award, and Carol Weston on Empty Nest. Manoff has also starred in numerous television movies and guest starred on various television programs in this timespan. Her film career cooled down during the 1990s but has come back in the 2000s (decade) with movies such as The Amati Girls and Bart Got a Room and a co-starring role on State of Grace.
Manoff is daughter to actress Lee Grant and screenwriter Arnold Manoff. Her career has spanned more than three decades. Since 1997, Manoff has been married to Arthur Mortell and currently resides in Bainbridge Island, Washington. She had previously resided in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York.
Manoff was born in New York City, New York. Her parents are actress, director, and writer, Lee Grant (née Lyova Rosenthal), and screenwriter Arnold Manoff. Her half-brother, Tom Manoff, is the Classical Music Critic for NPR's All Things Considered and a notable composer. After Grant divorced Arnold Manoff in 1961, she married Joseph Feury in 1962, who thus became Dinah Manoff's stepfather. She spent her childhood and teenage years in New York, and Malibu, California. In 1975 (at age 17) Manoff was accepted into the Actors Studio.
Manoff's very first project was the independent film Everybody Rides the Carousel, providing one of the voices. In 1976, Manoff made her first television appearance on the PBS production of The Stronger. This was followed by a guest appearance on Welcome Back, Kotter in an episode entitled "Sadie Hawkins Day." She made a guest appearance on another show, Visions. In 1977 she made a cameo appearance in her first TV movie, Raid on Entebbe. In 1978, Manoff got the role of Elaine Dallas (née Lefkowitz) on the ABC sitcom Soap and remained on the show until the end of the year. After that, Manoff took her first film role as Marty Maraschino, one of the Pink Ladies in the movie version of Grease (filmed in the summer of 1977).
In 1980, Manoff got the role of Libby Tucker in Neil Simon's Broadway play, I Ought to Be in Pictures and won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play as well as the Theatre World Award. She reprised that role for the film version in 1982, with Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret, one of the rare projects in her career in which she had a starring role.
At that same time, she married Jean-Marc Joubert and also played the small but pivotal role of Karen in the multiple Oscar-winning Ordinary People. In other parts of the decade, Manoff worked on several small projects.
In 1985, Manoff portrayed songwriter Ellie Greenwich in the Broadway jukebox musical Leader of the Pack and sang a few songs in it, but she and Jean-Marc Joubert divorced. In 1988, Manoff played Maggie Peterson in Child's Play, the first character to be killed by the murderous doll Chucky. Manoff then started a seven year stint as Carol Weston on the NBC sitcom and Golden Girls spinoff Empty Nest, a role she is best known for on television and has appeared on every episode of the series. In 1989, Manoff appeared in minor roles in two films late in the year: Bloodhounds of Broadway and Staying Together.
In 1990, Manoff appeared in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, starring Winona Ryder and Jeff Daniels. After this, Manoff focused primarily on television work, appearing in an episode of Blossom entitled "Rockumentary" and TV movies such as Babies and Maid for Each Other, as well as continuing on Empty Nest as actress and director on two episodes until its ending in 1995; she also appeared on The Golden Girls twice as Carol Weston in this period. Manoff's subsequent TV appearances included Touched by an Angel, Cybill and George & Leo.
In 1997, she married Arthur Mortell. In 1999, Manoff directed the 82nd episode of the television series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, titled "Prelude to a Kiss."
In 2000, Manoff appeared in the TV movie The Lost Child starring Mercedes Ruehl. Just a few months later in 2001, Manoff returned to film work by starring in The Amati Girls, the sole movie released theatrically that she and her motherLee Grant have appeared in together. The film also featured Mercedes Ruehl, Sean Young and Lily Knight. Manoff appeared in a second 2001 movie, Zigs, starring Beverly Hills, 90210's Jason Priestley. From 2001 to 2002, Manoff co-starred in the cable television series State of Grace. In early 2002, she took a leave of absence from State of Grace when she gave birth to twin boys - Oliver, Desi. In 2003, Manoff played Aunt Marla in A Carol Christmas, a variation on Charles Dickens' classic story.
In celebration of the poet Oscar Wilde's 150th birthday in 2004, Manoff read some of his works in the documentary Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde. After a four-year hiatus, Manoff appeared in the film Bart Got a Room in 2009, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival but would not be released widely until the following year in which Dinah appeared in two episodes of Lose Yourself on Strike.TV.
In 2010, Grease was re-released a second time as a sing-along. Coinciding with its release, Manoff appeared at the Seattle International Film Festival. She was in the process of writing a novel as of 2011. In late 2011, Dinah Manoff, plus other cast members from the Grease movie and director Randal Kleiser and other stars from the past, showed up at The Hollywood Show fan convention in Burbank to sign autographs, and also reunited with David Leisure from Empty Nest.