A handsome, brooding actor equally at home in mainstream Hollywood fare and in American independent projects -- as well as on the theatrical stage -- Peter Gallagher was born August 19, 1955 in Armonk, NY. While attending Tufts University, he spent his summers appearing with area theater groups, and after graduating in 1977 appeared on Broadway in a revival of Hair. Gallagher then starred as Danny Zuko in Grease, a performance which led to his portrayal of a '50s-era pop singer in his film debut, 1980's The Idolmaker. Summer Lovers followed two years later, but proved such a miserable experience that Gallagher fled Hollywood to return to the stage; he won a Theatre World Award that same year for his work in the Broadway musical A Doll's Life, and earned a Clarence Derwent Award in 1984 for his turn in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing.
In 1985, Gallagher returned to film in the Dennis Potter-scripted Dreamchild, followed in 1987 by My Little Girl; after garnering a Tony nomination for his work in a controversial revival of Long Day's Journey into Night, he enjoyed his motion picture breakthrough as an adulterous attorney in Steven Soderbergh's influential 1989 debut sex, lies and videotape. The performance earned Gallagher considerable credibility within the independent filmmaking community, but his next several efforts were more mainstream productions like 1990's Tune in Tomorrow and the television drama Love and Lies. However, a subsequent turn in Peter Sellars' 1991 avant-silent The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez brought acclaim from art-house audiences, and with a lead role in Robert Altman's 1992 comeback The Player, Gallagher's stock rose even higher. In the following years, he split his time between edgier material (Tim Robbins' Bob Roberts, Altman's Short Cuts, and Soderbergh's The Underneath) and lighter, more glossy projects (Malice, While You Were Sleeping, and To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday.) Gallagher went on to appear in American Beauty (2000) and Mr. Deeds (2002) before moving into episodic television with a role on Fox's highly touted nighttime soap The O.C. The show was an instant hit, and Gallagher received high marks for his portrayal of Sandy Cohen, an idealistic Newport Beach district attorney who brings a troubled youth from the wrong side of the tracks into his wealthy family. From the beginning, music was an integral part of the O.C. experience. The show's creators were conscious of its clout, and as a result, were more adventurous in their music selection. But they also recognized the nascent Broadway spirit in Gallagher, and a memorable season two episode featured Sandy singing Solomon Burke's "Don't Give Up on Me" in a musical tribute to his wife Kirsten (played by Kelly Rowan). That led to a record deal for Gallagher, and in November 2005, he released 7 Days in Memphis. Recorded at the city's Ardent Studios with Steve Cropper and a host of studio pros, the album was an enjoyable collection of soul standards mixed with a couple of newer songs. ~ Jason Ankeny