Bess Armstrong

Elizabeth Key Armstrong is an American television, film and stage actress who began her career in 1975 and continues to do so till date. In 1985, she married John Fielder with whom she has three children.

Personal Life

Bess Armstrong was born in Maryland, U. S. on 11th December 1953, to Louise Allen, college lecturer at Bryn Mawr and Alexander Armstrong, who taught as an English teacher at Gillan School. She attended school at the Bryn Maar School for Girls.

She has degrees in Theater and Latin from Brown University. The actress studied with John Emigh and Jim Barnhill at Brown. During her school and college life, she has performed in an astounding number of one hundred stage productions. She married John Fielder in 1985, she has one daughter and two sons with him, they are Lucy Chase Fielder, Samuel Chase Fielder, and Luke Allen Fielder. Prior to her marriage to John Fielder, she was married to Chris Carreras, a film director, and producer, from 1983 to 1984.


Bess Armstrong who showed interest in acting from a young age and had acted in more than hundred plays got her first professional acting role in 1975 on ‘Harmony House’, an off-off-Broadway production. In 1977, Bess made her television debut on ‘On Our Own’, a CBS sitcom as Julia Peters for twenty-two episodes. She played the character of Laura Stanton in one episode of ‘The Love Boat’ (1978).

The same year, she made her telefilm debut opposite Richard Thomas in ‘Getting Married’. Between 1979 and 1982, Armstrong has acted in various television and big screen films including ‘Walking Through the Fire’, ‘11th Victim’ as Jill Kelso, ‘The Four Seasons’ as Ginny Newley and ‘Jekyll and Hyde Together Again’ as Mary Carew. Her role as Eve in ‘High Road to China’ in 1983, got her a Saturn Award, Best Actress nomination. She was a regular on ‘Allis Forgiven’ (1986) and 'Married People'.

Armstrong’s most recognized character is Patty Chase, the mother of two children, who was struggling to balance her marriage and business as who she played on the critically acclaimed television series ‘My So-Called Life’, that ran from 1994 to 1995.

Bess starred as Patty Chase in a total of nineteen episodes. In the 2000’s, the talented actress had recurring roles in ‘That Was Then’, the comedy series ‘House of Lies’, the CBS network drama series ‘Reckless’ and as Professor Beth Marillo on ‘Switched at Birth’. In 2008, she appeared in the episodes ‘Mad About You’ and Made in China’ on ABC’s hit show ‘Boston Legal’ as Penelope Kimball.

She has appeared in crime drama series such as Criminal Minds, Castle and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Armstrong appeared on the critically acclaimed political thriller ‘Scandal ‘directed by Shonda Rhimes, her role was that of Senator Diane Greenwald in the episode ‘Watch Me’. Some of her other roles in movies are as Betsy Cummings in ‘When it clicks’, as Mandy Roberts in ‘Her Best Friend’s Husband, as Susan in ‘Next of Kin’.

Last Modified: Mar 6, 2020

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