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Who is Beth Grant?

Ben Steelman
StarNews

A character actor with deep Wilmington ties, Beth Grant has appeared in such films as “Rain Man,” “Speed,” “Donnie Darko,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “No Country for Old Men” and has had recurring roles on the TV series “Coach,” “Jericho” and “King of the Hill.” In 2009 she was an official celebrity at the N.C. Azalea Festival at Wilmington.

Grant was born Sept. 19, 1949, in Gadsden, Ala., and her parents moved frequently around the South when she was little. The family had roots in Duplin County, though — Grant’s mother, Elizabeth “Libba” Grant, was a longtime director of the Employment Security Commission office in Kenansville — and they returned to the area while Beth was a teenager. She graduated from New Hanover High School, where she was active in the drama club, and from East Carolina University, with a BFA in acting. At 16, she was a page for the state Senate in Raleigh, and at ECU, she was president of the College Democrats.

After college, she headed to New York, where she tried her luck in off-Broadway theater and studied at the Lee Strassberg Institute. Moving to Los Angeles, she detoured for some years into production, working for George Schlatter and producing segments for NBC’s “Real People” as well as independent documentaries.

Her breakthrough came in 1988 with Barry Levinson’s “Rain Man”; she played the farm wife with a large family who takes in Dustin Hoffman’s autistic character when it’s “time for Wapner.” Thereafter, she was busy in character roles in television and film.

Grant appeared in “Flatliners” (1990), “Child’s Play II (1990, in which she was slaughtered by the devil-doll Chucky), “White Sands” (1992), “Love Field” (1992), “City Slickers II” (1994), “Speed” (1994, in which was squashed by the bus), “Donnie Darko” (2001), “Pearl Harbor” (2001), “The Rookie” (2002), “Matchstick Men” (2003), “Flags of Our Fathers” (2006) and “Factory Girl” (2006). At various times, she popped up on such series as “Murder, She Wrote,” “The X Files,” “CSI,” “Everwood,” “Six Feet Under,” “JAG, “Bones,” “The Office.” “My Name is Earl” and “Pushing Daisies.”

On “Jericho,” she played Gracie Leigh. On “King of the Hill,” she supplied the voice for the character of the Nurse.

In “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006) she played the fussy beauty-pageant manager; in “No Country for Old Men” (2007) she played Josh Brolin’s rather fearsome mother-in-law. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly profiled Grant in its feature on the “Hardest Working Actors” in Hollywood.

Grant married character actor Michael Chieffo. The couple have one daughter, Mary Chieffo, an aspiring actress who joined her mother at the Azalea Festival.

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