Of all the quirky women Terri Garr made a career of playing, the spunky Roberta Lincoln who pairs with "future agent" Gary Seven in “Assignment: Earth” for Star Trek is one of the stand-outs—and only her fifth real role on television.
Born Terry Ann Garr in Lakewood, Ohio in 1947, she had been a professional dancer at age 13—and thus her very first movie was as a background dancer in Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas. The Monkees’ Head brought her first speaking line, followed by Coppola’s The Conversation and then her breakthrough in the classic Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein. Among many other films, Garr’s portrayal as obsessed Richard Dreyfuss’s beleaguered wife in Close Encounters of the Third Kind was topped only by her 1982 Oscar-nominated turn as Dustin Hoffman’s actress friend in Tootsie.
Meanwhile, a host of guest appearances on TV followed her appearance on Trek, highlighted by her years as a regular cast member on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, a three-time host of Saturday Night Live, and celebrated late-night appearances on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show and David Letterman’s Late Night. More recently, viewers should recall her several times from Friends as Phoebe Abbott, the mother of Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe Buffay.
In 2002 Garr revealed publically that she battled multiple schlerosis and became a public advocate for awareness and research for the disease. She suffered a brain aneurysm in her home in 2006 but has worked hard at physical therapy, and largely recovered.