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Mercedes Ruehl (born February 28, 1948) is an Academy Award-winning American theater and film actress.
Ruehl was born in Queens, New York. Her father was an FBI agent and her mother, also named Mercedes, was a schoolteacher. She was raised in the Catholic religion and has German, Irish, and Cuban ancestry. Ruehl attended College of New Rochelle and graduated in 1969. She is married to painter David Geiser, with whom she adopted a son, Jake (born 1997). She had another son, Christopher, whom she placed in adoption in 1976; Christopher later became Jake's godfather.
Ruehl began her career in regional theatre, taking odd jobs between engagements. In the late 1970s, Ruehl began chalking up New York stage successes, notably in I'm Not Rappaport (1985). On the stage, she won the 1985 Obie Award for her performance in The Marriage of Bette and Boo and twenty years later, an Obie for Woman Before a Glass. She also received a 1991 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for Lost in Yonkers. Her performances in two other plays earned her two other Tony nominations:
In 1995 as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for a revival of The Shadow Box;
In 2002 as Best Actress (Play) for Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?.
Her most acclaimed film role was in The Fisher King; her performance in the film earned her the 1991 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as well as an American Comedy Award, a Boston Society of Film Critics Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and a Golden Globe. Earlier she had won the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Married to the Mob. She played KACL station manager Kate Costas in five episodes of Frasier, and had a major role in the made-for-TV film All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story.She is the first Cuban American female Academy Award winner.
She has also played the mother of Vincent Chase in HBO's Entourage.
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