Perhaps, when the name Janine Turner is mentioned, the first thing that would race to your mind is the television series Northern Exposure where she played the role of Maggie O’Connell through six seasons. She nailed the role and had award nominations screaming her name. She is also Jessie Deighan in the feature film Cliffhanger. While she is all of those, she is much more than her screen work.
Turner works behind the screen as a producer, writer, and director. She is also an author with four published books to her credit; a singer, host, public speaker, founder and co-chair of Constituting America.
Janine Turner Biography
She was born in the U.S. state of Nebraska, in Lincoln, on the 6th of December 1962. On her arrival, her parents, Janice Loraine (née Agee) and Turner Maurice Gauntt Jr. named her Janine Loraine Gauntt. Janine is a Hebrew name meaning a gift from God.
Janine Turner was raised alongside her older brother named Tim in Euless and Fort Worth, Texas. She got interested in modeling from a very young age and started training from the age of 3. She also trained in ballet, tap, and theater. In her early teenage years, she joined a cheerleading squad before ultimately moving to New York to pursue a modeling career. Turner left home at the age of 15 and was signed by the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency. At the time, she was the youngest ever to be signed.
She returned to Texas after some commercial works to complete her education. Along the line, she landed some minor roles on television, in several episodes of Dallas in 1980, launching her acting career. After a number of other guest roles on TV shows throughout the 80s, she became frustrated with the quality of roles she was getting. Subsequently, she returned to New York to search for better expression of her talent as well as to hone her craft. Upon arrival, she enrolled to study with Marcia Haufrecht of the Actors Studio in Manhattan.
Don’t they say that good things come to those who wait? Her big break came shortly after she moved. Janine Turner was cast in Northern Exposure as Maggie O’Connell in 1990. Her performance in the series earned her an Emmy nomination in 1993 as well as three consecutive Golden Globe nominations (1992 to 1994). Besides that, she finally felt like she has really started acting, as the role was a far cry from those she has done earlier. Janine Turner in an interview with the Tribune revealed that she finally found her ideal character in the role.
The actress has never been married. Nevertheless, she was romantically involved with a number of men including Alec Baldwin whom she was once engaged to. She also dated Troy Aikman, Mark Grace, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Sylvester Stallone. Turner has a daughter named Juliette with Jerry Jones Jr., son of the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, in 1997.
Career Achievements – Movies and TV Shows
Shortly after she made her acting debut in 1980, Janine Turner had a number of other small roles in various television shows throughout the 1980s including Mr. Merlin, Behind the Screen, The Love Boat, and General Hospital for which she won the Young Artist Award in 1983 for Best Young Actress in the Daytime Series. Her one episode roles continued with The Paper Chase in 1983, Happy Days, and Boone Maggie, also in the same year. 1984 saw her acting in three TV shows including The Master, Santa Barbara, The New Mike Hammer with The A-Team and Knight Rider coming in 1985.
Turner had a somewhat regular part on Another World where she was featured in two episodes as Patricia Kirkland from 1986-1987. Her last TV role for the decade was in Quantum Leap as Michelle. Apart from her TV appearances, she also had some film roles in the 80s.
Her initial appearance on the big screen was in 1982 in the daytime parody Young Doctors in Love. Janine Turner was featured alongside other soap stars in cameos. Her other film credits include Knights of the City and Tai-Pan both in 1986, Monkey Shines in 1988 and Steel Magnolias in 1989. At this point in her career, Turner has had it up to her neck and could not just continue to portray the cute and flighty characters she had seemingly had until then.
To get what she wanted, she declined numerous acting roles, those that looked like what she had always played. In turn, she moved to New York where she had the one role that redefined the narratives of her career. She landed the role of spunky, crop-haired Alaskan air taxi pilot Maggie O’Connell in the CBS’ series Northern Exposure (1990-1995).
Following her breakthrough, she has had a fairly full plate of TV movies and film roles. Turner appeared in the comedy thriller The Ambulance in 1990 and in the action flick Cliffhanger opposite Sylvester Stallone in 1993. Then she was seen in the film adaptation of Leave it to Beaver playing the perfect mom, June Cleaver; in Stolen Hearts: Captured Hearts, and The Curse of Inferno all in 1997. She headlined other made for television films such as Circle of Deceit and Beauty, both in 1998, A Secret Affair and Fatal Error in 1999.
Janine Turner was featured as one of Richard Gere‘s women, Dorothy Chambliss in Dr. T & the Women (2000). Also in 2000, she joined the cast of Strong Medicine in a regular role as Dr. Dana Stowe. She appeared in other TV films including Walker Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire (2005) and 2007’s Primal Doubt before taking a break on the small screen with the Inconceivable episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2008 and the NBC TV series Friday Night Lights (2008-2009).
On the big screen, the versatile actress starred in No Regrets in 2004 and also wrote, produced, and directed the award-winning short film, Trip in a Summer Dress the same year. The year 2006 chronicled two movies for her; Miracle Dogs Too and Dallas and The Night of the White Pants. In 2009, she was seen in Birdie & Bogey and Maggie’s Passage. Janine co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in Christoga, a Christian Yoga DVD in 2007. In 2015, she portrayed the wife of Anthony Hopkins‘ character in the mystery thriller film Solace. Her other film credits include The Ivy League Farmer (2015), Occupy, Texas (2016), and Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer in 2018. As of 2019, she is starring in the Lifetime Film, Patsy & Loretta.
Beyond the Screen
Apart from interpreting roles and giving life to characters on the screen, Janine Turner has also done wonderfully well beyond the screen. She is a producer, writer, director, author, public speaker, host, and occasional singer.
Turner co-wrote and produced an album, Mockingbird Hill, in which both she and her daughter sang. From May 2011 until 2013, she hosted a live two-hour talk show titled The Janine Turner Show on Dallas’ KLIF (AM) and in Houston, KTRC and later on iHeart Radio. The show was awarded Best Radio Show in Dallas.
As an author, she has released four books including Holding Her Head High in 2008 which focuses on single mothers through history. Others are A Little Bit Vulnerable, Wisdom for Each Day, and Artificial Intelligentsia Vs. Primal Sense.
Janine Turner is a Republican. She founded and is the co-president of Constituting America. The other president of the establishment which was created in 2010 is Cathy Gillespie.