The daughter of actress Whitney Blake, Meredith Baxter received extensive training in the arts at the Interlochen Summer Camp in Michigan. Meredith worked as an usher, file clerk and cafeteria checker before getting her first film break in Ben (1971). The 5'7" blonde actress entered the "America's sweetheart" category when she was cast as Bridget Fitzgerald Steinberg, the prettier half of a Catholic-Jewish married couple, in the TV sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie (1972). While the series lasted only a year, her "reel" marriage became a "real" one when, in 1974, she wed her B Loves B co-star David Birney. In addition to yielding a new, hyphenated professional name for Meredith, her union with Birney produced five children before the couple divorced in the early 1990s (she also had two children from a previous marriage). In between stage appearances in such productions as Hamlet, Guys and Dolls and Butterflies are Free, Meredith played Nancy Lawrence Maitland on the TV dramedy Family, winning two Emmy nominations during her four-year (1976-80) stint with this series. In 1982, Meredith agreed to star as flower child-turned-suburban mom Elyse Keaton on the weekly TV comedy Family Ties, having been assured that she would be the star of the series in fact as well as in name. As it happened, Family Ties was dominated throughout its seven-year run by co-star Michael J. Fox. A prolific TV-movie actress, Meredith Baxter-Birney owns the distinction of playing the same real-life character twice, with two entirely different interpretations. When she first played accused murderess Betty Broderick in 1992's A Woman Scorned, Meredith was sympathetic to Broderick's plight, and played the role accordingly; but by the time 1993's Her Final Fury rolled around, Meredith, like everyone else involved in the project, was convinced that Betty Broderick deserved what she got--and played the role in the manner of a Gothic Novel villainess.