Janine Turner

Janine Turner

Although born in the heartland, Turner was raised in Texas where she began to compete in beauty pageants as a child. By age 15, she had moved to NYC to pursue a modeling career and within a year was under contract with the Wilhelmina agency as one of its youngest ever models. Then a pert brunette with long luxurious hair, Turner moved from posing to acting with a three-episode stint as a friend to Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton) on the popular CBS primetime soap "Dallas" in 1980. That experience led to her casting as a soap actress on the late night backstage melodrama "Behind the Scenes" (CBS, 1981-82). In a case of art imitating life, Turner soon found herself acting in a daytime serial, With her hair dyed blonde, she moved to ABC as Laura Templeton, a doppelganger for departed star Genie Francis, on "General Hospital."After leaving the soap, Turner floundered for much of the 1980s, making occasional guest appearances, generally of the damsel in distress variety, on shows like "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer" and "Knight Rider." Features also provided little opportunities, as Turner was relegated to cameos (as in her debut, "Young Doctors in Love" 1972) or supporting roles in big screen bombs (like "Tai-Pan" 1986). The actress regrouped and returned to NYC where she studied acting and honed her skills in Off-Broadway plays. Perhaps her best-recognized role of this period was a tiny part as a spoiled Southern belle in "Steel Magnolias" (1989). Although stardom seemed elusive, all that changed in 1990 with "Northern Exposure." Her hair now returned to its natural brunette and closely cropped, Turner cut a dashing figure as the tomboyish, insecure but strong-willed flyer. Her onscreen chemistry with Rob Morrow (as the New York Jewish doctor forced to work in what he considers the hinterlands) helped propel the series to success and each to 1993 Emmy nominations. With her newfound status, Turner attempted to establish herself as a leading lady in features with "Cliffhanger" (1993), but the special effects and her male co-stars Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow overshadowed her. After "Northern Exposure" left the air, Turner filmed a busted sitcom pilot and bided her time. In 1997, she was cast as a frontierswoman who falls in love with the Native American who kidnaps her in the CBS drama "Stolen Women: Captured Hearts" and returned to the big screen paying homage to the moms of the 1950s as June Cleaver in the big screen version of "Leave It to Beaver."Following time off for motherhood, Turner kept active in a string of TV-movies like "Circle of Deceit" (ABC, 1998, which she also co-produced), "Beauty" (CBS, 1998), a contemporary spin on "Beauty and the Beast" and "Barbara Taylor Bradford's 'A Secret Affair'" (CBS, 1999). The actress returned to series TV playing a headstrong surgeon forced to work with a female doctor at a free clinic in "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000).