Terry Ann "Teri" Garr (born December 11, 1944) is an American actress and dancer best known for her film roles in Young Frankenstein, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tootsie,Mr. Mom, After Hours, The Black Stallion and One From the Heart, and television's Friends.
Garr was born in 1944 in Lakewood, Ohio. Her father, Eddie Garr (born Edward Leo Gonnoud), was a vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor whose career peaked when he briefly took over the lead role in the Broadway drama Tobacco Road. Her mother, Phyllis Lind (née Emma Schmotzer), was a dancer, a Rockette, wardrobe mistress, and model. Her father was of Irish descent and her maternal grandparents were Austrian immigrants.
Early in her career, she was credited, variously, as Terri Garr, Terry Garr, Teri Hope, or Terry Carr. Garr's movie debut was as an extra in 1963's A Swingin' Affair. At the end of her senior year, Garr auditioned for the cast of the Los Angeles Road Company production of West Side Story, where she met one of the most important people in her early career, David Winters, who became her friend, her dance teacher, and her mentor and cast her in many of his early movies and projects.
Garr started out as a background dancer in uncredited roles for youth-oriented films and TV shows choreographed by Winters, including Pajama Party, a beach party film, the T.A.M.I. Show, Shindig!, Hullabaloo, Movin' with Nancy (aNancy Sinatra / Frank Sinatra Special), and nine Elvis Presley features (many of which were also choreographed by Winters, including Presley's most profitable film, Viva Las Vegas).
Garr gave the following answer to a question in a magazine interview about how she landed the job in a Presley film: "One of the dancers in the road show of West Side Story, (David Winters) started to choreograph movies and, whatever job he got, I was one of the girls he'd hire. So he was chosen to do Viva Las Vegas. That was my first movie."
In 1974, she landed her first significant motion-picture role in Francis Ford Coppola's critically acclaimed film The Conversation. Her career breakthrough came in the Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein (1974) as Inga. She went on to appear in a string of highly successful films, often playing a housewife. Her most popular films include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977),Oh, God! (1977), The Black Stallion (1979), One From The Heart (1982), Mr. Mom (1983), and After Hours (1985). In 1982, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role asDustin Hoffman's actress friend in Tootsie.
Since the late 1960s, she has also appeared frequently on television. She began as a go-go dancer on several musical variety shows, along with friend Toni Basil, such as Shindig! andHullabaloo. In 1967, Garr made two appearances on Batman and one appearance on The Andy Griffith Show. In 1968, she was in two episodes of It Takes a Thief and appeared as Roberta Lincoln, secretary to Gary Seven in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth", which was intended to be a backdoor pilot episode for a spinoff TV series of the same name in which she would co-star opposite Robert Lansing, who played Seven. The proposed new series did not sell.
In the early 1970s, she was a regular cast member on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, dancing and acting in comedy sketches. She also had a recurring role as a ditzy policewoman onMcCloud, and appeared on M*A*S*H, The Bob Newhart Show, The Odd Couple, Maude, Barnaby Jones, and Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. She hosted Saturday Night Live in 1980, 1983, and 1985 and was a frequent visitor on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As a recurring guest on Late Night with David Letterman, she was renowned for her unscripted banter with David Letterman, who once goaded her into showering in his office while the camera rolled.
In October 2002, Garr publicly confirmed that she was battling multiple sclerosis. After years of uncertainty and secrecy surrounding her diagnosis, Garr explained her reasons for deciding to go public: "I'm telling my story for the first time so I can help people. I can help people know they aren't alone and tell them there are reasons to be optimistic because, today, treatment options are available." In recent interviews, she has commented that she first started noticing symptoms while in New York filming Tootsie. For the next few years, as acting jobs brought her to various locations around the world, she continued to see different doctors in different cities, until she finally found a doctor who correctly diagnosed her as having MS.
Since Garr announced that she has multiple sclerosis, she has become a leading advocate in raising awareness for the condition and the latest available treatments. She is a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Chair for the Society's Women Against MS program (WAMS). In November 2005, Garr was honored as the society’s Ambassador of the Year. This honor had been given only four times since the society was founded.
On December 21, 2006, she suffered a brain aneurysm in her home. Her 13-year-old daughter called 911 when she could not wake her mother up. After therapy to regain her motor skills and speech, she appeared on Late Show with David Letterman on June 19, 2008, without the need of a wheelchair. She was on the show to promote Expired, a 2007 film in which she played a set of twins