Famous Migraineurs: Marcia Cross

Patient Expert

Wife, mother, actress, and Migraine sufferer

Marcia Cross, a wife and mother of twin daughters, has a thriving acting career despite Migraine disease. She was born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, on March 25, 1962, to Mark and Janet Cross and has two sisters, Susan and Ellen. She knew shortly after her first school play she wanted to be an actress and set out to do just, that graduating from The Julliard School in New York City.

Ms. Cross began her acting career on the stage and an emerging day time television actress during the mid- 1980's. She could be found on daytime soap operas such as "The Edge of Night", "Another World", and "One Life to Live". After a few years, she moved to Los Angeles, which afforded her plenty of work both in prime time television and movies. She has made appearances in "Cheers", "Who's the Boss", "Seinfeld" and "Quantum Leap". In 1991 she played the role of Victoria Broyard in "Knots Landing," a very popular nighttime soap opera. It was only one year later that she started her famous role of Dr. Kimberly Shaw on the very trendy primetime series "Melrose Place" (1992). Dr. Shaw was a narcissistic woman who would do anything to achieve her goals. Between affairs with married men, baby stealing, attempted murder and blowing up buildings, Dr. Shaw was a hit with her audience. and she never seemed to die. Somehow she always came back from the dead. and her fans loved it. She left 'Melrose Place' in 1997 to pursue her master's degree in Psychology, which she received from Antioch University.

Ms. Cross never seemed to be without an acting job. She had leading roles in the films "Dancing in September (2000), "Living in Fear" (2001), "The Wind Effect" (2003), and participated in a television pilot "Eastwick" (2002) that didn't quite make it. This pilot however, was based on the movie "The Witches of Eastwick". Ms. Cross was in the TV series "Everwood" (2003), which received much critical acclaim.

In 2004 she joined the cast of "Desperate Housewives" as Bree Van De Kamp, the domestic goddess and perfectionist. Bree's life has been anything but perfect. Her first husband was murdered by a pharmacist who was in love with her; she rarely gets along with her children and battles alcoholism in addition to the show's other crisis of the day. Ms. Cross won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2004, 2005) and was nominated for an Emmy in 2005. Her additional nominations include; The Golden Globe Award: Best Performance by an actress in a Television Series (2005, 2006 2007), Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008).

Ms. Cross had a lengthy relationship with actor Richard Jordan, who was 24 years her senior before she met Tom Mahoney. Jordan passed away in 1993 due to a brain tumor. Tom Mahoney, a stock broker met in 2005, and they were married in June of 2006. Their twin daughters, Eden and Savannah, were born in February of 2007. Hopefully the twins will be spared having Migraine disease - but not likely. When one parent has Migraine disease, the risk is 50% that one child will have it too; if both parents have Migraines the risk goes up to 75%.

For a period of time, Ms. Cross was a spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Imitrex and Treximet. Her message wasn't about Imitrex. During the campaign, she focused on Migraineurs getting an accurate diagnosis. Teri spoke with Ms. Cross during that time about how she copes with Migraines in Marcia Cross on Life and Migraines. She has kept her Migraines fairly well managed by identifying and managing the triggers she can, such as red wine and cheese, and working with a Migraine specialist. The best way we can identify and manage triggers is by using a Migraine diary. This is a great tool and can be shared with our doctors too. Ms. Cross tries to use her abortive medication at the first sign of a Migraine, and seems to be doing a great job of balancing her Migraines, career, and family. Cross is big on our advocating for ourselves and taking charge of our health. She told Teri:

"I would just say not to be a victim and to be your own health advocate, and to take it into your own hands. You actually can affect the number of Migraines you have and your quality of life, and it's worth the effort. It will increase your entire healthy lifestyle and reduce your Migraines, so it's a win-win situation, I think."1

You can read more about and from Ms. Cross in :


1 Robert, Teri. Interview - Marcia Cross on Life and Migraines. Personal interview with Marcia Cross. December 13, 2006.

2 Robert, Teri. Marcia Cross on Life and Migraines. December 13, 2006.

3 Bio.Com. True Story. Marcia Cross Biography. A&E Television Network. 2010.

4 IMDb.com. Marcia Cross. Biography. IMDb.com Inc. 2010.

Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD.

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© The HealthCentral Network, 2010 Last updated November 14, 2010