Meredith Baxter Profile

  • Beloved 5-time Emmy-nominated actress from the long running show Family Ties, among a long list of other shows and movies.

  • A champion of women and LGBT rights, she set an example for the LGBT community when she publicly came out as a lesbian on The Today Show.

  • She has given tens of thousands of people the courage and strength to persevere in difficult situations through opening up about her own experiences with drug addiction and domestic abuse.
  • The star of numerous acclaimed comedic and dramatic roles in television and movies, Meredith Baxter offers an inspiring story of courage, hope, self-acceptance and happiness to millions dealing with drug abuse, domestic abuse, and cancer. Best known for portraying Elyse Keaton on the classic NBC sitcom Family Ties, she has also become a major force in the LGBT equal rights movement after coming out publicly on The Today Show in 2009.

    While the 5-time-Emmy nominee had the perfect onscreen life in Family Ties, her private life was riddled with domestic abuse and drug addiction, the latter of which progressed to the point where she became a danger to herself and others. Baxter embarked on a long journey of confronting and overcoming her demons while maintaining a high profile career and raising her five children.

    Outside her acting and producing career, Baxter has devoted herself to making a difference in the issues she’s passionate about. In addition to being an in-demand speaker on the topics of addiction, abuse, breast cancer, and LGBT rights, she has a line of skin care products and donates a portion of the profits from sales to her foundation, the Meredith Baxter Fund for Breast Cancer Research, which promotes prevention and research, as well as free mammograms for low-income women.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      In film, television, and on stage, Meredith Baxter is noted for her accessible portrayals of intelligent, independent women who struggle with the challenges before them. Baxter achieved success early in her career with a string of hit television series including Bridget Loves Bernie, the critically acclaimed drama Family, and most notably, the long-running and extremely popular Family Ties. She then made a seamless transition to drama after seven years as one of America’s favorite sitcom stars, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after actors for television movies.

      Baxter relishes the challenge of characters in stories that evoke thought, even antagonism, and is often courageous in her choice of roles. In 1991, she earned an Emmy nomination for her performance as the lead character in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. She reprised her acclaimed role in Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter. In 1993, Baxter earned another Emmy nomination for her performance in the CBS School Break Special, Other Mothers, portraying the lesbian mother of a teenager who encounters prejudice.

      Baxter served as executive-produced on her television series The Faculty for ABC. She performed in the same capacity on a number of her own movies for television, including My Breast, Betrayed: The Story of Three Women; Darkness Before Dawn; and The Long Journey Home.

      On TV and in life, Baxter has devoted much of her time to speaking out on issues about which she is passionate. For hospitals, private organizations, women’s auxiliaries and the National Institutes of Health, Meredith has spoken on a variety of topics, including breast cancer, domestic violence and abuse, substance abuse/alcoholism, addiction and recovery, and women’s rights.

      Because life has been kind to her as a breast cancer survivor, Baxter was looking for a way to share the good fortune. She decided to take her concern about breast cancer prevention into the business area. She created the Meredith Baxter Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. The intent is that funding will go toward prevention and research, including the funding of free mammograms for low-income women.

      In 2011 Meredith released her autobiography, Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering. She is the mother of five grown children and lives with her partner in Santa Monica, California.

    Meredith Baxter Speaking Videos

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    Meredith Baxter's Speech Descriptions

    Meredith Baxter makes an emotional impact on audiences as she fully commits to each event she takes part in. Baxter delivers a story of courage, strength, and resilience in the face of some challenging obstacles. Despite over 40 years of stardom, she is completely accessible and humble, offering the heart-felt account of someone who has dealt with and overcome some of life’s biggest struggles while still retaining a sense of humor and optimism.

    What I've Learned So Far...A Memoir of Family, Fame and Floundering
    A beloved and iconic television star, Meredith Baxter is remembered and appreciated for her perceptive portrayals of intelligent and independent women. In this lighthearted and moving presentation, she recounts her colorful life as an actress as well as her troubled family life and shares how she overcame many obstacles to achieve health, happiness, strength and acceptance. Audiences love her candid and upbeat style during a question and answer session.

    My Breast (Cancer): When a Role Becomes a Reality
    After playing a breast cancer survivor, Meredith Baxter became passionate about finding a cure for the disease. She started a research foundation funded by her skin care line. And then shockingly, she received her own diagnosis. Meredith tells how she learned to shed her shame and share her own story with women across the country. Meredith encourages other survivors to arm themselves with a sense of humor and a proactive schedule for follow-up care. She also explains the latest research findings.

    Substance Abuse: The Road to Recovery
    Like so many alcoholics, Meredith Baxter thought she had her drinking under control. After all, she was juggling young motherhood (five children!) and a successful acting career. But it nearly came crashing down after she flubbed a movie role. Confronted with the possibility of losing her livelihood, she entered recovery for substance abuse. Nineteen years later, she is still sober. With poise and pride, Baxter shares her inspiring success story of overcoming her fears and regaining control of her life.

    Breaking Family Ties: Empowering Ourselves to Overcome Domestic Violence
    In Meredith Baxter's most famous role, she was mom to one of the happiest, healthiest families on television. In real life, her family life was far from picture perfect. She married three times, and struggled through various levels of domestic abuse before finally finding freedom and contentment. Meredith speaks honestly about her own journey inward to confront the low self esteem and negative feelings that kept propelling her into bad relationships. She encourages others to find the courage to look inside as well, so they too can break the bad patterns that lead to unhealthy choices and bullying relationships. Meredith discusses how to move beyond the role of victim and to learn to trust those protective instincts that now serve her so well.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Meredith Speak

    Rating Entries

    “This was the best luncheon ever – Meredith Baxter was great! I never thought I would laugh so hard and enjoy myself so much. I loved hearing Meredith’s story, she didn’t talk about the problem, but focused on the solution.”
    – Council on Drugs and Alcohol Houston

    “I can’t say thank you enough for making our event last night our best event and most memorable we have ever had! We have never had a speaker ask to be present during our survivors march – let alone someone who greeted our survivors. I cannot tell you how many hearts you touched and there was not a dry eye in the tent. A lot of our survivors come every year for that march, and they will NEVER forget this year!”
    – Emanuel Medical Center

    “We were truly pleased and inspired to have you as our speaker at the Advocacy Summit. I know it meant a lot to everyone to hear your personal story and thoughts about cancer. Thank you for being a memorable part of our first summit!”
    – National Cancer Institute

    “Meredith’s speech was great – so many remarked about how honest and real she was and how courageous she was. She was very approachable and I don’t think she realizes the deep impact she has on so many people, not just as a celebrity, but as a genuine human being who has grown and triumphed over adversity.”
    – Comtrea (Domestic Violence)

    “It will be hard to pick our next speaker after having you. Everyone liked the fact you were ‘real.’ You not only told your life story, but told how you were overcoming your problems and learning to forgive.”
    – SW Louisiana Women’s Conference

    “Meredith Baxter was fabulous. She came across as a strong survivor who has confronted her own role in the abuse without judging those who are still on the road to self-discovery. As Advocate and former victim, she seemed so at home with us.”
    – Voices of Courage Luncheon

    “Thank you for talking (and listening) to our guests before the luncheon. You gave our event an A+ rating. Your message clearly communicated the pervasiveness of domestic violence and its impact on women, children and families, and you presented new information they won’t forget. I am touched that you provided a contribution – you are only the second speaker to ever do so in 21 years”
    – Safe Haven of Tarrant County

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    Books by Meredith Baxter:

    Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering>

    For the first time, Meredith Baxter is ready to share her incredible highs, (working with Robert Redford, Doris Day, Lana Turner, and the cast of Family Ties), and lows (a thorny relationship with her mother, a difficult marriage to David Birney, a bout with breast cancer), finally revealing the woman behind the image.

    From her childhood in Hollywood, growing up the daughter of actress and co-creator of One Day at a Time Whitney Blake, Baxter became familiar with the ups and downs of show business from an early age. After wholeheartedly embracing the 60s counterculture lifestyle, she was forced to rely on her acting skills after her first divorce left her a 22-year-old single mother of two. Baxter began her professional career with supporting roles in the critically panned horror film Ben, and in the political thriller All the President’s Men.

    More lucrative work soon followed on the small screen. Baxter starred with actor David Birney as the title characters in controversial sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. While the series only lasted a year, her high-profile romance with Birney lasted 15 volatile and unhappy years. Hiding the worst of her situation from even those closest to her, Baxter’s career flourished as her self-esteem and family crumbled. Her successful run as Nancy on Family was followed by her enormously popular role on Family Ties, and dozens of well-received television movies.

    After a bitter divorce and custody battle with Birney, Baxter increasingly relied on alcohol as a refuge, and here speaks candidly of her decision to take her last drink in 1990.

    And while another ruinous divorce to screenwriter Michael Blodgett taxed Baxter’s strength and confidence, she has emerged from her experiences with the renewed self-assurance, poise, and understanding that have enabled her to find a loving, respectful relationship with Nancy Locke, and to speak about it openly.

    Told with insight, wit, and disarming frankness, Untied is the eye-opening and inspiring life of an actress, a woman, and a mother who has come into her own.

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