Felicity Huffman

"You can't pasteurise the Academy Award. You can't negotiate it. It's the top; it's the biggest thing ever," enthused Felicity Huffman after hearing of her 2006 Oscar nomination.

Flicka, as her family know her, could have been forgiven her excitement. At the age of 43 the attractive blonde had probably thought major league Hollywood success had passed her by. But, after bagging a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her portrayal of Wysteria Lane's harassed exec-turned-homemaker Lynette in award winning US TV show Desperate Housewives, she'd already been enjoying a career high.

Born on December 9, 1962, in Bedford, New York state, Felicity Huffman originally dreamed of being a backing singer. The youngest of eight children, with six sisters and one brother, she was raised by her mother after her parents divorced around the time of her first birthday.

By the actress' own admission she was a "loud, obnoxious child" who was sent off to a drama camp to let off steam one summer. The acting bug bit, and after landing a paying TV job aged 15, she took herself off to New York's Tisch School of the Arts.

There followed a varied career with appearances on shows such as Frasier and The West Wing. Although she was landing parts on stage and screen - in movies like 1995's Hackers and 1999's Magnolia - the job security she craved eluded her, however. "This is a freelance business, and in a freelance business you're always sure your last job really is your last job," she once commented.

That was all before the phenomenal hype surrounding Desperate Housewives propelled Felicity centre stage and gave her a $250,000-per-episode paycheck. Viewers were gripped by her character whose attempts at negotiating the pitfalls of modern motherhood were by turns heart-rending and hilarious.

With Housewives a hit on both sides of the pond, the movie scripts began to roll in - including the offer to play a transsexual in Transamerica. During the challenging shoot, she would turn to Fargo actor William H Macy, her husband and former university drama coach, for advice. And her enormous respect for him is apparent when she highlights how heavily she relied on his expertise.

Apart from their professional bond, the couple - who wed in 1997 and have two young daughters, Sofia and Georgia - are thought to have one of Tinseltown's most stable relationships. Felicity credits William with helping her overcome the anorexia that blighted her early adulthood. Meanwhile, he has cheerfully taken a back seat to his wife at a series of high-profile events, as well as, shouldering the lion's share of family duties.

Making it into the limelight hasn't robbed of Felicity of her unassuming nature. Sent sketches of gowns for the 2006 Academy Award ceremony she laughed: "They're labelled 'Valentino-Felicity-Oscars'. I'm going to frame them!" But she'd better get used to the Hollywood star treatment, as to the awards that adorn her mantelpiece, as it seems likely there are plenty more coming her way.
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