Delta Burke (Actress) Designing Women
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Updated: 6/30/20

Name: Delta Burke

Birth Name: Delta Ramona Leah Burke

Born: July 30, 1956 in Orlando, Florida, USA

Claim To Fame: Delta Burke is an American actress, producer, and author, best known for her role as Suzanne Sugarbaker in the sitcom Designing Women, from 1986 to 1991; for which she received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Family Life: Burke has been married to actor Gerald McRaney since May 28, 1989.

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Info: She's the daughter of Jean and stepfather Frederick Burke, an Orlando realtor; she has never met her biological father.

Burke has two younger siblings: a brother, Jonathan; and a sister, Jennifer.

Graduated from Colonial High School in 1974.

In 1972, she won the Miss Flame crown from the Orlando Fire Department and went on to become State Miss Flame.

In her senior year of high school, she won the Miss Florida title for 1974; she was the youngest Miss Florida titleholder in pageant history.

Burke won a talent scholarship from the Miss America Organization, allowing her to attend a two-year study program at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Since the early 1990s, Burke's weight has been a subject of discussion in the tabloid press. Her struggles with weight, depression, and eating disorders stretch back to her pageant days in the early 1970s.

In 1998, Burke co-authored the book 'Delta Style: Eve Wasn't a Size 6 and Neither Am I' with Alexis Lipsitz.

In the early 2000s, she co-starred with David Alan Grier on the sitcom DAG; she had lost much of her excess weight for the role after being diagnosed with diabetes.

Has suffered from chronic depression since her teens and eventually went to rehab to modify her medications for her depression and diabetes.

Burke made her Broadway debut in September 2003, when she starred as Mrs. Meers in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. She was then succeeded by her Designing Women co-star Dixie Carter the following February.

Burke then played the role of Truvy in the original Broadway production of Steel Magnolias, playing the role for the shows entire four-month run.

Burke is a designer and manager of the clothing company Delta Burke Design, headquartered in New York City.

Burke and McRaney are also the owners of an antique store in Collins, Mississippi.

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Trivia: In 1974, as part of winning Miss Florida, Burke appeared on the ABC-TV show Bozo the Clown, as the magical assistant to Herbert L. Becker.

In 1981, Delta Burke won the role of Katherine Wentworth on Dallas (1978) and was offered a recurring part on Private Benjamin (1981), but she had a holding option on her contract for the forth-coming series Filthy Rich (1982) and was forced to turn both parts down. The role of Katherine Wentworth ultimately went to Morgan Brittany.

Burke earned two consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1990 and 1991, the only lead female cast member of Designing Women to do so. Alice Ghostley received a nomination for Supporting Actress in a Comedy in 1992, for her recurring role as Bernice Clifton. Meshach Taylor received one in 1989 for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

In 1989, Burke asked Thomason to write an episode of Designing Women addressing her weight. The episode, "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?", had Suzanne Sugarbaker going to her 15-year high school reunion and having her feelings hurt after hearing disparaging remarks about her weight. Her performance on this episode is believed to have led to her receiving her first Emmy nomination.

In 1990, Burke publicly expressed dissatisfaction with Designing Women on a televised interview with Barbara Walters and other media outlets.

She argued that there was a labor dispute, and actors were often forced to work over 15 hours per day, with executives even blocking the doors and keeping actors on set. She also said that castmate Dixie Carter, who had once been her close friend and maid of honor at her wedding to Gerald McRaney, was not speaking to her as had sided with her bosses. In 1991, at the end of the fifth season, Burke was let go from her contract due to her contentious relations with Carter and the Thomasons.

It took more than a decade for Burke and Carter to reconcile, but they did so when Burke guest-starred in an episode of Family Law, on which Carter was a regular cast-member.

In 2003, while on the set of a new TV pilot Sweet Potato Queens (2003), some of her jewelry including her wedding and engagement rings were stolen; the jewelry was valued at approximately $74,000.

She also played Bella Horowitz during a five-episode arc on Boston Legal as a former flame of William Shatner's character, Denny Crane, in season three.

In March 2012, it was announced Burke had been cast in the ABC comedy pilot Counter Culture. However, after Burke fell on the set, production of the pilot was suspended and it was not picked up to series.

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Where Are They Now: Burke's last screen appearance was in television series Dolly Parton's Heartstrings back in 2019. Currently, she is still designing and managing her clothing company, Delta Burke Design. Hopefully, some day soon she can return to TV in a new series or possibly a revival of Designing Women. We shall see.


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