Shadow on the Mesa

Meredith Baxter

Emily Rawlins

Born in Los Angeles, California, Meredith Baxter was the only daughter born to aspiring actress Whitney Blake and radio announcer Tom Baxter. After her parents divorced, when she was five, her mother wed Hollywood producer Jack Fields.

Baxter attended Hollywood High School, where she found her niche in the highly esteemed drama department. Bit by the acting bug, she went on to train at Michigan's Interlochen Arts Academy. While developing her acting skills, she met Bob Bush, to whom she was married from 1966-69. After their divorce, Baxter became a 22-year-old struggling actress and a single mother of two. With the help of her stepfather, she began her professional career with supporting roles in the critically panned horror film “Ben” (1976), and in the political thriller “All the President's Men” (1976), which starred Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.

During the 1970s, Baxter found more lucrative work on the small screen. In 1972, she and actor David Birney (whom she married in1974) starred as the title characters in the CBS sitcom “Bridget Loves Bernie.” The series failed to find a wide audience and was cancelled after one season. As the decade progressed, Baxter made a name for herself in the role of Nancy Lawrence Maitland on the dramatic series “Family” (1976-80). Her performance as the eldest daughter of a single mother earned her respect from her peers, as well as two Emmy® nominations.

Baxter also had enormous success when producer Gary David Goldberg handpicked her to play hippie mom Elyse Keaton on the NBC sitcom “Family Ties” (1982-89), which introduced her to a whole new generation of viewers. Baxter and actor Michael Gross were cast as the liberal parents of conservative children played by Michael J. Fox, Justine Bateman and Tina Yothers.

After the series' acclaimed seven-year run, Baxter returned to television movies in an attempt to land more serious roles. She shattered her wholesome image with dramatic turns as a psychotic kidnapper in “The Kissing Place” (1990), as a murderer in “A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story” (1992), and as a member of the Donner Party in “One More Mountain” (1994). For the remainder of the 1990s, Baxter settled into a routine of dozens of TV appearances. In 2006, she appeared as a temporary co-host on the “Today show” with regular host Matt Lauer. The next year, she made a guest appearance on the ABC drama “What About Brian” and on the TV series “Cold Case.” In 2009, she starred in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “Bound By a Secret,” opposite of Lesley Ann Warren.

Most recently, Baxter has starred in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Naughty or Nice” during the holiday season 2012, and will appear in the upcoming Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “Reading, Writing & Romance” in 2013. She has also had recent roles on ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth,” “Dan Vs.,” “Brothers” and a voice role on “Family Guy.”

In addition to her work as an actress, Baxter works as an entrepreneur. She launched her own line of beauty and skin products, called Meredith Baxter Simple Works, which helps raise funds for her breast cancer research foundation.

Shadow on the Mesa cast