Swoosie Kurtz moved frequently as a child, being the daughter of a much-decorated Air Force pilot. She took up drama at the University of Southern California, and later attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
She began her career in theater, making her Broadway debut in 1975. She made her breakthrough in 1978, when she appeared in the acclaimed play Uncommon Women and Others, and later won a Drama Desk Award for her stint in A History of the American Film. She won her first Tony Award in 1981, for the play Fifth of July; she won another five years later for The House of Blue Leaves.
Kurtz's first major TV stint came in the 1981 comedy Love, Sidney, which earned her an Emmy nomination. However, she won her only Emmy in 1990 for a guest stint in Carol & Company. Her most prominent TV role to date was in the NBC drama Sisters, which ran from 1991 to 1996, and where she played the lead.
Kurtz also had a prominent film career, appearing in notable releases such as Dangerous Liaisons, Reality Bites, Liar Liar and Cruel Intentions. Recently, however, she focused more on her television work, having appeared in ABC's whimsical Pushing Daisies and CBS' Mike and Molly, as well as holding recurring roles in Huff and Rita Rocks.
- Her name "Swoosie" is derived from the airplane called the "Swoose" - half swan, half goose - which her father piloted in World War II.
- In 1962, Swoosie and her father both appeared on the game show To Tell the Truth. Col. Kurtz was the contestant, and 18-year-old Swoosie came out at the end of the game to identify her father by handing him his uniform jacket.
- She played Terry O'Quinn's mother in an episode of Lost, despite being just 8 years older than him.
- Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, 1978 (for A History of the American Film)
- Tony Award, Best Featured Actress in a Play, 1981 (for Fifth of July)
- Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, 1981 (for Fifth of July)
- Tony Award, Best Featured Actress in a Play, 1986 (for The House of Blue Leaves)
- Emmy Award, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, 1990 (for Carol & Company)
- Slap Shot (1977)
- First Love (1977)
- Oliver's Story (1978)
- The World According to Garp (1982)
- Against All Odds (1984)
- Wildcats (1986)
- True Stories (1986)
- Vice Versa (1988)
- Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
- Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
- Stanley & Iris (1989)
- A Shock To The System (1990)
- Walking the Dog (1991)
- Reality Bites (1994)
- Citizen Ruth (1996)
- Storybook (1996)
- Liar Liar (1997)
- Outside Ozona (1998)
- Cruel Intentions (1999)
- The White River Kid (1999)
- Get Over It (2001)
- Bubble Boy (2001)
- The Rules of Attraction (2002)
- Duplex (2003)
- Sleep Easy, Hutch Rimes (2004)
- An Englishman in New York (2009)
- As the World Turns (regular, 1971)
- Love, Sidney (regular, 1981-1983)
- Sisters (regular, 1991-1996)
- Party Girl (regular, 1996)
- Suddenly Susan (recurring, 1996-1997)
- Love and Money (regular, 1999-2000)
- That's Life (recurring, 2001-2002)
- Huff (recurring, 2004-2006)
- Pushing Daisies (regular, 2007-2009)
- Rita Rocks (recurring, 2009)
- Mike and Molly (regular, 2010-present)
On her name: "Change it to what - Tiffany? It's been an advantage. It's unforgettable. I'm the only one."
"I try to tell myself I'm not schizophrenic. But when I'm not acting, I'm not alive. Everyday is just not heightened enough for me. I'm more focused, more interesting when I'm working."