Teri Garr was born in 1949 in Los Angeles, the daughter of a Vaudeville actor and a former Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. To say that performing was a way of life for the actress is an understatement. She began her dancing career with the San Francisco ballet at age 16 and after college enlisted in the Actors’ Studio in New York City according to Biography.com.
Garr received many dancing roles in Elvis Presley movies in the 1960s before landing speaking roles in increasingly bigger and bigger roles starting in the early 1970s. Her first major role came with Francis Ford Coppola’s thriller The Conversation in 1974.
Her career took off from there, playing one of her most famous roles as Inga the flighty assistant to Gene Wilder’s Dr. “Frahnk-en-steen” in Mel Brooks’ iconic farce Young Frankenstein. Her place amongst Hollywood legends was secure, but her high-profile roles didn’t stop there.
A young Hollywood director named Steven Spielberg, fresh off of his success with 1975’s Jaws, cast Teri Garr is his UFO epic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, opposite Richard Dreyfuss as a mother who’s lost her toddler to a flying saucer.
Teri Garr earned an Oscar nomination in 1983 for Best Supporting Actress in Tootsie as the crazed girlfriend of Dustin Hoffman’s character. She continued her star power in such films as Black Stallion, Sting II, and Mr. Mom.
Teri Garr continues her work today in both television and film with voice over work and as a guest star on television shows. One tidbit of trivia is that she played one of the first guest stars on a fledgling show called Star Trek, in which Garr played a role in the episode Assignment: Earth.
Life Without the Cameras
Teri Garr has authored an autobiography entitled Speedbumps: Flooring it Through Hollywood, chronicling her life in Hollywood and her 1999 diagnosis of having multiple sclerosis. After she takes us on a journey through the glitz of being a movie star, her humor is frank and sarcastic about having a debilitating disease.
Currently, Teri Garr is a spokesperson about living with multiple sclerosis and how to live with the disease. Even in the face of hardship, Garr presses forward. She credits her mother as an inspiration, especially after Teri Garr’s father died at age 11 and leaving her mother to care for three children. Today, Garr is an inspiration to not only actresses everywhere of making it big with long odds, but she is also courageous in dealing with a disease that has no cure at the present time.