Great Character Actor: Debra Monk

Debra Monk is one of Timothy Hutton's players in Nero Wolfe. She appears in the second pilot, "The Doorbell Rang," as Mrs. Brunner.

She shows up later as an angry wife, a murderess . . .

A wink, wink, nudge, nudge inhabits the corners of her acting, even in her serious roles. I don't consider this is a flaw. She is a fairly brilliant comedic actor with amazing timing. And, considering their ages, she has a surprising wink, wink, nudge, nudge affinity with Hutton.

Like Harriet Sansom Harris, she has the ability to invest a very small role with a neat extra touch. She shows up in an episode of Frasier, "No Sex Please, We're Skittish" as a grumpy nurse at a sperm bank, where she must inform Niles that his sperm has low motility. She plays a harassed, unsympathetic character, but towards the end of the conversation, in response to Niles' consternation, her tone softens ever so slightly. It is very sweet but not in a cloying way.

A large number of Hutton's players show up in other shows; there's Kari Matchett who shows up in Leverage as Hutton's character's ex-wife; there's Saul Rubinek popping up all over the place; there's the guy with the beautiful gravelly voice, Beau Starr (though, like Chaykin and Smitrovich, Starr was coming to Nero Wolfe from an already extensive career).

Debra Monk, of course, has an extensive career on Broadway as well as in television. If you ever want to know where a star disappeared to . . . check out Broadway musicals!

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