See "Designing Women" Star Delta Burke Now at 65
After many difficult years in the spotlight, the actor is now "in a good place," insiders say.
For seven seasons beginning in 1986, the sitcom Designing Women told the story of four southern women making their way in Atlanta as interior designers. The cast was headlined by Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Jean Smart, and Delta Burke as the go-getting ladies behind the firm, Sugarbaker & Associates. Together, and with the help of delivery man turned partner Anthony Bouvier, played by Meshach Taylor, the women weathered the challenges of the business world, their love lives, and more. Burke, who played ex-pageant queen Suzanne Sugarbaker, was particularly beloved on the show, and was even nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards for her work on the series. Today, Burke is 65 years old and has enjoyed a successful career despite a turbulent time on the series. Read on to see her now!
Burke was fired from her role on the show.
It was no secret at the time that Burke was unhappy working on Designing Women. In a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters, she explained that the set was a "difficult, unpleasant workplace." Producers countered that Burke was "impossible to work with," suggesting that the feeling was mutual.
In 1992, she was replaced by actor Julia Duffy for the sixth season of the show. While her co-stars cited her "difficult" and "demanding" personality as the problem, Burke contends that she was harassed about her weight on set, and was fired for being a whistleblower regarding her "psychological abuse."
"There were a lot of good times, but there were an awful lot of bad times that didn't have to happen," she told Deseret News at the time.
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She's always had her husband's support.
While appearing on the show, Burke met and married her husband, the veteran actor Gerald McRaney. Viewers may recognize him from recent appearances on This Is Us, Filthy Rich, NCIS: Los Angeles, or House of Cards, though his extensive Hollywood resume dates back to the mid-'60s.
Burke's colleagues suggested that some of the rifts on set were the result of their 1989 marriage. "Immediately after Delta started dating Gerald, there was a marked change in her relationship with all of us," Doug Jackson, the show's producer, told TV Guide in 1992. "She was a fun, kicky girl at the start. After Gerald came on the scene, she came on the set one day to announce to the cast, 'Gerald says I am the star of the show and I should be boss.'"
McRaney countered this accusation while sitting down with Walters by pointing out a double standard that's now widely recognized in Hollywood. "As an actor, not as a producer, what I've discovered is that if a man is very demanding and very exacting, then he's a thorough professional," he said. In a woman, he pointed out, these same traits would be seen as problematic.
She continued acting for many years after the series.
Since her public fallout with the cast and producers of the show, Burke has continued acting. The year following her release from the show, she launched her own sitcom, Delta, but the series lasted just one season. By 1995, she had reportedly reconciled with Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, and the pair agreed to collaborate on a spinoff series called Women of the House, in which she reprised her role as Suzanne.
In the years that followed, she joined the casts of several high profile shows, including Popular, Touched by an Angel, DAG, Boston Legal, and Dolly Parton's Heartstrings. In 2000, she notably appeared in the Mel Gibson film What Women Want. In the mid-aughts, she starred in the Broadway productions Thoroughly Modern Millie and Steel Magnolias.
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Today, she's said to be "in a good place" after years in the spotlight.
Sadly, much was made of Burke's fluctuating weight both on the show and in tabloids. In fact, the actor admitted that during the show's earliest seasons, she went to shocking lengths to maintain her pageant-queen weight. "By the end of the first season, I began hearing more reports about my weight, which was always my weak point anyway. I was always hearing that I was never thin enough," the actress told United Press International (UPI).
Thankfully, it seems things have stabilized after many rocky years in the spotlight. Speaking with OK! Magazine, an "insider" recently shared that the actor has "finally learned to accept herself"—no small feat after such merciless treatment from the press. "Now she's older, wiser and in a good place," the insider said.