Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Park Overall (born March 15, 1957) is an American actress, environmental and women's rights activist, and former U.S. Senate candidate, known for her trademark heavy Southern accent. Her best-known role was as nurse Laverne Higby Todd Kane in the sitcom Empty Nest, though she has appeared in a number of feature films, including Biloxi Blues, Mississippi Burning, Talk Radio, and more recently, In the Family.
Overall was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and raised in Greeneville. She is the daughter of Frances (née Bernard), a professor of English, and Thomas Wesley "Jack" Overall, Jr., a federal magistrate. She has described her parents as Yellow Dog Democrats. As a teenager, she worked on the political campaigns of Tom Wiseman and Jim Sasser.
Overall graduated from Tusculum College with a degree in English, and briefly attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee. In her late 20s, she moved to New York to pursue an acting career. One of her first roles was in Skin, an Off-Off-Broadway play about Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. She also appeared in the Neil Simon play, Biloxi Blues, and had a role in a failed pilot called The Line (which aired once in the summer of 1987) with Dinah Manoff, with whom she would eventually costar on the NBC series, Empty Nest.
Empty Nest, which aired from 1988 to 1995, provided Overall's breakthrough role. She played Laverne Higby Todd Kane, nurse to Dr. Harry Weston, played by Richard Mulligan. She played the same role in the early episodes of the Empty Nest spinoff, Nurses, in the early 1990s. She later starred in the short-lived TV series Katie Joplin and Ladies Man, both from 1999.
In 1995, she was the voice of Alice Tompkins in the animated series The Critic. She has appeared in several TV movies, including the Lifetime drama Fifteen and Pregnant (1998). She has made guest appearances on TV shows such as The Golden Girls, Nurses, The Young Riders, and Reba, in which she had a recurring role during the series' first season.
Her first feature role was in Tainted (1988); she appeared in four additional films the same year: Biloxi Blues, Vibes, Mississippi Burning, and Talk Radio. Her role on Talk Radio was voice only. Her most recent appearances were in To Kill a Mockumentary (2006), the Toby Keith film Beer For My Horses (2008), and the Patrick Wang film In the Family (2011).
Overall has actively supported a number of environmental causes, primarily those affecting her native East Tennessee. In 1995, she gave an interview on ABC's news show Primetime attacking the paper company Champion International, which had for years been accused by environmentalists of polluting the Pigeon River. Abnormally high levels of dioxins in the river had been traced to the company's plant in Canton, North Carolina, and were believed by environmentalists to be the cause of the relatively high rate of cancer deaths in the area around Hartford, Tennessee.
In recent years, Overall has been a vocal critic of Nuclear Fuel Services, which operates a uranium processing complex in Erwin, Tennessee. She has charged that the complex has poor safety standards, pointing to a study released in 2010 that found soil samples along the Nolichucky River contaminated with enriched uranium traced to the complex. Overall has filed numerous petitions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which insists the complex's radiation output levels are safe.
In 2002, Overall helped thwart an attempt by Louisiana Energy Services to build a uranium enrichment facility in the Erwin vicinity. The complex, known as the National Enrichment Facility, has since been constructed in New Mexico. In subsequent years, she sought to prevent NFS's implementation of the Blended Low-Enriched Uranium (BLEU) project in Erwin, which will provide fuel for reactors at Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plants.
In 2014, Overall campaigned against a proposed 12-mile (19 km) pipeline that would allow the new U.S. Nitrogen plant in Mosheim to use water from the Nolichucky River. Environmental activists argue that removing water from and discharging the water back into the river will harm the ecosystem downstream from the pipeline, though U.S. Nitrogen insists the pipeline is safe. Overall accused the plant and regulatory agencies that approved the pipeline of lying about how much of the river's water the plant would utilize.
On April 4, 2012, Overall entered the Democratic primary to become the nominee to oppose Republican incumbent Bob Corker. She stated that she planned to focus on the environment, as well as women's issues, opposing the Senate transportation bill's Blunt Amendment, which would have provided a religious exemption for the Obama Administration's contraception mandate, asking, "Why is my womb attached to a transportation bill?" She criticized various measures introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly, including Stacey Campfield's "Don't Say Gay" bill and Richard Floyd's bill that would have forced transgender people to use restrooms for the gender listed on their birth certificates, stating that such legislation was meant to "denigrate" and "inspire fear." She also accused Republicans of "poisoning" the Nolichucky River through lax environmental regulations.
In the August 2, 2012 Democratic primary, Overall garnered less than 15% of the vote, placing a distant third behind conservative Mark Clayton.
Overall believes that the government's role is to be "stewards of this planet, and of our people, and of this great nation." She argues that tax dollars should be used for infrastructure, roads, libraries, schools, and "services that made this country great."
Stating that she grew up in a household with an AFL-CIO ash tray on the dinner table, Overall has spoken in favor of labor unions, and warns that Republicans have "stolen" the language of unions, successfully redefining terms like "good benefits" and "pensions" as "a string of cusswords."
Overall is pro-gay marriage, arguing that same-sex couples are guaranteed the right to marry by the 14th Amendment. In response to President Obama's May 2012 endorsement of the legalization of gay marriage, Overall released a statement saying, "Hallelujah and what took so long?"
Overall has frequently criticized state lawmakers for passing restrictions on abortion. In her Jackson Day keynote address in Nashville on April 5, 2012, she mocked the Tennessee state legislature for passing a bill requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, stating, "if you have an abortion, you have to have a doctor who has in-house privileges, but keep in mind, the guy who does my botox and lips doesn't." She also accused Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell of not knowing the meaning of "transvaginal", referring to McDonnell's initial support (which he later withdrew) of a measure that would have required a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking an abortion.
In January 2016, Overall endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President, but has stated she will support whoever is the Democratic nominee.
|1987||The Line||Lucky Kreshaw||Television movie|
|1988-1995||Empty Nest||Laverne Todd||170 episodes
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Comedy Series
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film
|1989||Lost Angels||Richard Doolan's girlfriend|
|1989||The Golden Girls||Laverne Todd||Episode: "Sick and Tired: Part 2"|
|1990||Kindergarten Cop||Samantha's mother|
|1991||The Luck of the Draw||Melody O'Rourke||Television movie|
|1991-1992||Nurses||Laverne Todd||3 episodes|
|1992||Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story||Tyria Moore|
|1993||House of Cards||Lillian Huber|
|1993||Undercover Blues||Bonnie Newman|
|1993||Precious Victims||Paula Sims||Television movie|
|1994-1995||The Critic||Alice Tompkins||10 episodes|
|1998||Fifteen and Pregnant||Evie Spangler||Television movie|
|1999||The Price of a Broken Heart||Dot Hutlemeyer||Television movie|
|1999||Katie Joplin||Katie Joplin||7 episodes|
|2000||When Andrew Came Home||Gail|
|1999-2000||Ladies Man||Claire Stiles||9 episodes|
|2001-2002||Reba||Lori Ann||7 episodes|
|2004||Cut and Run||Pauline||Short film|
|2006||To Kill a Mockumentary||Professor Shellington|
|2008||Beer for My Horses||Barbara|
|2011||In the Family||Sally Hines|