|Cheryl Gates McFadden usually credited as Gates McFadden, is an American actress and choreographer. She is best known for portraying the character of Dr. Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) television series and subsequent films.|
McFadden was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. She attended Brandeis University graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts in theatre arts. After graduating from Brandeis, she moved to Paris and studied theatre with actor Jacques Lecoq.
Before Star Trek: The Next Generation, McFadden often worked for Jim Henson productions, including the films The Dark Crystal (as choreographer), Labyrinth (as Director of Choreography and Puppet Movement), The Muppets Take Manhattan (choreographer and a brief on-screen appearance), and uncredited work on Dreamchild (again supervising choreography and puppet movement). As a way of distinguishing her acting work from her choreography, she is usually credited as “Gates McFadden” as an actress and “Cheryl McFadden” as a choreographer. However, she was credited as “Cheryl McFadden” in the Troma movie When Nature Calls (1985) and in the Season 3 episode of The Cosby Show, “Cliff’s 50th Birthday.” She appeared in The Hunt for Red October as Jack Ryan’s wife Caroline, though most of her scenes were cut in post-production.
In 1987, McFadden was cast as Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Crusher character was slated to be Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s love interest, and this aspect of the character is what attracted McFadden to the role. Another important aspect of the character was being a widow balancing motherhood and a career. In the second season McFadden was fired and replaced by actress Diana Muldaur as the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer. Muldaur’s character, Dr. Katherine Pulaski, didn’t make it to the third season. Roddenberry described Muldaur as “a most talented actress,” and said that the decision “to let her go was made solely because the hoped-for chemistry between her and the rest of the starship cast did not develop.” McFadden was approached to return for the third season. At first she was hesitant, but after a phone call from co-star Patrick Stewart, McFadden was persuaded to reprise her role. Highlights for her character included “The High Ground,” where Dr. Crusher is kidnapped by terrorists; “Remember Me,” in which she becomes trapped in an alternate reality where her loved ones start to disappear; “The Host,” which features a romance between the Doctor and a man with a big secret; “Suspicions,” in which Dr. Crusher risking her career to solve the murder of a scientist; “Sub Rosa,” where Dr. Crusher becomes the next victim of her grandmother’s seductive “ghost;” and “Attached,” where Picard and Crusher become telepathically linked as prisoners and learn their true feeling for one another. McFadden reprised her role for all four TNG movies and also provided her voice for PC games Star Trek: A Final Unity and Star Trek Generations. McFadden also directed the TNG episode “Genesis” and choreographed the dance routine in “Data’s Day.”
Beyond TNG, the 1990 comedy Taking Care of Business starred James Belushi, co-starred McFadden and another TNG actor, John de Lancie (aka Q). In 1992 she appeared alongside fellow cast members Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Colm Meaney in a production of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, which was performed in four cities. She also starred in the 1995 TV series Marker with Richard Grieco and appeared in the made-for-television movie Crowned and Dangerous with Yasmine Bleeth in 1997. Additional TV work was the role of Allison Rourke, Paul Buchman’s boss, in four episodes of the sitcom Mad About You. In the spring of 2006, McFadden appeared in a series of television commercials for Microsoft.
She has taught at several universities (AADA, Brandeis, Harvard, Purdue, Temple, The Stella Academy in Hamburg, and the University of Pittsburgh) and is currently listed as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Theater at the University of Southern California. She has been Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre of Los Angeles since January 2009. During her tenure she spearheaded the building of the Atwater Village Theatre Collective (AVT), a new two-theater space in Los Angeles.
McFadden has lent her voice as narrator in several audio books. In 2010 she was the narrator of “Confessor” (METAtropolis: CASCADIA).