Gail Ann O'Grady (born January 23, 1963), an American actress and producer, is best known for her roles on television. Her roles include Donna Abandando in the ABC police drama NYPD Blue, and Helen Pryor in the NBC drama series American Dreams. O'Grady is also well known for her lead roles in a number of television movies. She has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award three times.
O'Grady was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Jan and Jim O'Grady, a financial planner. She was raised in Wheaton, Illinois, and graduated from Wheaton North High School in 1981. She appeared in a few commercials before moving to Los Angeles in 1986.
O'Grady began her career as a model for Montgomery Ward and by making several commercials. In one, she played the neighbor for whom Michael J. Fox's character chased down a Diet Pepsi. In time, she began making guest appearances, often as a villain. She made her big screen debut in the 1988 romantic comedy She's Having a Baby, and later was cast in a recurring role on the ABC drama China Beach," opposite Dana Delany. She also guest starred on several other shows, and appeared in made for television and independent movies.
Her first major role was as Donna Abandando on the ABC police drama NYPD Blue. O'Grady played the big-haired squad secretary from 1993 to 1996, and for each year received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Along with cast, she won Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 1995. O'Grady left the series in 1996, and made a pilot for her own sitcom, The Gail O'Grady Project, but the show was not picked up by any of the networks.
After leaving NYPD Blue, O'Grady began starring in numerous television movies for Lifetime and other networks, including The Three Lives of Karen (1997), Two Voices (1997), Every 9 Seconds (1997), Two of Hearts (1999), Another Woman's Husband (2000), Lip Service (2000), Hostage Negotiator (2001), Hope Ranch (2002), Lucky 7 (2003), Sex and the Single Mom (2003), and More Sex & the Single Mom (2005).
From 2002 to 2005, O'Grady starred as Helen Pryor, in the NBC television series American Dreams, which depicted an all-American family living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the 1960s. The series was canceled after three seasons. In fall 2005, O'Grady was lead actress in the ABC comedy series Hot Properties. The series was canceled after 13 episodes. In 2006, she guest starred on Two and a Half Men, and in 2007 had a recurring role on Boston Legal as Gloria Weldon, a judge in a personal relationship with attorney Alan Shore. Also in 2007, she starred in the Hallmark Channel movie All I Want for Christmas.
O'Grady had series regular roles on the short-lived CW series, Hidden Palms as Karen Hardy in 2007, and on Hellcats, playing Wanda Perkins, the mother of the main character from 2010 to 2011. In 2008, she had a recurring role on ABC series Desperate Housewives as Anne Schilling, a woman who is having an affair with the character Porter Scavo (at that point a teenager). She also has made appearances on Monk, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Mentalist, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Drop Dead Diva, Hawaii Five-0, and Castle. She also was cast in major recurring role as Conrad's first wife on ABC primetime soap opera Revenge, opposite Madeleine Stowe.
O'Grady has been married six times. After breaking up with artist Robert Claypool, she sought a restraining order against him in 1995, claiming he was stalking her, but did not obtain one. He responded by suing her for defamation, libel and slander. In 2004, before her sixth marriage to John Stamatkis, O'Grady gave birth to her first child with Chris Byers, son Michael Colton O'Grady, named after her late brother.