- Began acting on the stage with the Teenage Drama Workshop at California State University when she was 12.
- Performed with the Los Angeles Free Shakespeare Company for two years, while still attending high school.
- First TV gig was playing the guitar while performing a Beatles tune on The Gong Show in 1976.
- Played lead role of Maria in her senior-class production of The Sound of Music, opposite Kevin Spacey's Captain Von Trapp; her performance was seen by Hollywood talent agent Meyer Mishkin, who was so impressed that he signed her as a client.
- Learned American Sign Language for her role as Maggie, the daughter of deaf parents eager to make a life of her own, in the acclaimed TV-movie Love Is Never Silent (1985).
- In 1992, released her first album, a collection of folk songs, entitled What Might Be.
- Converted to Judaism in 2003.
- 2004, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2014, Tony — Actress (Featured Role--Play): Nominee
- 1983, Genie Awards — Best Performance by a Foreign Actress: Nominee
- 1998, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Winner
- 1997, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
- 1986, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee
- 1995, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- 1980, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Special: Winner
- 1998, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 2012, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
- 1996, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Female: Winner
- 2011, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
- 1996, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Miniseries or a Special: Nominee
- 1990, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Female: Nominee
- 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- William Sweet Mapel — Ex-husband
- Marilyn — Mother
- Riley Sam Mapel — Son
- A Martinez — Ex-husband
- Jack Walter Mapel — Son
- Happy Atticus Mapel — Son
- Dave Maloney — Great-uncle
- Patrick Mapel — Son
- Val Kilmer — Ex-significant Other
- Calla Louise Mapel — Daughter
- Attended California State University, Northridge, California, United States