Jane Kaczmarek is an American actress best known for her role as Lois in the television sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, from 2000-2006.
Kaczmarek, a Polish-American, majored in theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she met future actor Tony Shalhoub. She later enrolled in Yale University with Shalhoub for her graduate degree and was a part of its theatre company.
She has had several Broadway hits, including Lost In Yonkers and Raised In Captivity, where she won an LA Drama Critics’ Award.
Kaczmarek’s television work included being a series regular on Equal Justice, Hometown, Big Wave Dave’s and The Paper Chase: The Second Year. Her additional credits include recurring roles on Felicity, Party of Five, Frasier, The Practice, Cybill and Hill Street Blues.
She has also appeared in several movies, including the 1998 film Pleasantville, as Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon’s “real-world” mother.
In the year 2000, Kaczmarek was cast to play the mother, Lois, in the FOX mid-season replacement, Malcolm in the Middle.
This role proved to be a wise career choice for Kaczmarek, as the show was a hit and made Lois a household name. TV Guide dubbed her a “true breakout; a female Homer Simpson”, and critics hailed her for her comic talents.
Later, Kaczmarek would credit the show for bringing out her comedic side, claiming, “[Before Malcolm] I couldn’t even get auditions for comedies. I played very unfunny people.”
Kaczmarek was nominated seven times for an Emmy for her performance on the show, one for every year. She also earned three Golden Globe nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, was honoured with a Television Critics Association Award in 2000 and 2001, plus an American Comedy Award and a Family Television Award in 2001.
The show aired its series finale in May 2006. Kaczmarek, however, still guest stars on another FOX Show, The Simpsons, providing the voice of Judge Constance Harm (parody of Judge Judy).
She also played a role in the short-lived ABC sitcom Help Me Help You, starring Ted Danson.
Kaczmarek has been married to West Wing actor Bradley Whitford since 15 August 1992. They live in Los Angeles with their three children, Frances (1997), George (23 December 1999), and Mary Louisa (25 November 2002).
Both are very active with charity, and are seen attending many major award shows together. She is the founder of “Clothes Off Our Back” which auctions celebrity clothing for children’s charities.
Kaczmarek underwent a hip replacement in April 2004, due to chronic arthritis. She recovered quickly, and used an X-ray of her new hip for her Emmy campaign the following summer, advertising herself as "the only Emmy nominee with an artificial hip (except for Anthony LaPaglia)."
In 2006, Kaczmarek and Malcolm in the Middle co-star Erik Per Sullivan contributed the afterword for the children’s book, Together, that shows the importance of domestic animals to impoverished people in the world, and was inspired by the mission of the nonprofit charitable organisation, Heifer International.