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Whatever Happened To Stockard Channing?

Emmy-winning actor Stockard Channing's name is back in the news, and it has nothing to do with her role in the 1978 movie musical "Grease." This time, the attention is squarely on Channing's 1993 film "Six Degrees of Separation."

In an advanced excerpt of film star Will Smith's autobiography, "Will," obtained by People magazine, the actor revealed he fell in love with Channing while filming comedy-tinged mystery drama. In "Six Degrees of Separation," Smith's character, Paul Poitier, falls for Channing's character, Louisa "Ouisa" Kittredge. And so, in a bit of an "art imitating life" twist, the actor fell in love with his co-star. 

Although Smith said Channing kept the relationship strictly professional, he did note that he struggled outside of work because he and his then-wife, Sheree Zampino, were in their "first few months of our marriage with a brand-new baby." The actor wrote about his perception of Zampino's point-of-view in the situation, too. He explained, "She'd married a guy named Will Smith, and now she was living with a guy named Paul Poitier, and, to make matters worse, during shooting, I fell in love with Stockard Channing."

Smith previously admitted his infatuation with Channing in a 2015 interview with Esquire, recounting how his Method acting on "Six Degrees" was playing around with his psychology. He told the magazine, "So the movie was over, and I went home, and I was dying to see Stockard. I was like, 'Oh no! What have I done?' That was my last experience with Method acting, where you're reprogramming your mind."

Smith's revelations are compelling, but the renewed focus on Channing is a reminder that she has slowly receded from the limelight in recent years.

Stockard Channing first hit the big time as Rizzo in Grease

Many movie fans know Stockard Channing for her definitive performance as Rizzo, the bad girl leader of the Pink Ladies in "Grease," where she starred opposite John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. "Grease" was a breakthrough role for Channing, who immediately moved on to a pair of her own star vehicles with two CBS shows: "Stockard Channing in Just Friends" in 1979 and "The Stockard Channing Show" in 1980 (via IMDb).

The prolific actor continued to land dozens of roles in the ensuing decades, including her best actress Oscar-nominated turn in "Six Degrees of Separation" (via Entertainment Weekly) followed by such films as "The First Wives Club" in 1996 and "Practical Magic" in 1998. Channing took her television career next level in 1999. At that time, she appeared in the recurring role of first lady Abbey Bartlet opposite President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) in the Emmy Award-winning NBC political drama "The West Wing." She played the character for seven seasons through 2007, per her IMDb profile, and earned an Emmy for best supporting actress in a drama series in 2002, as well as four additional nominations in the category.

While Channing moved on to a recurring role the CBS legal drama "The Good Wife" from 2012 to 2016, the actor's resume has been relatively sparse in recent years, begging the question, "What ever happened to Stockard Channing?"

Stockard Channing lives in the U.K. and has returned to stage acting

"Grease" and "The West Wing" alum Stockard Channing has slowly been migrating east in recent years. According to the Bangor Daily News in 2012, she took up residence in Georgetown, in Cumberland County, Maine, during the summers. However, she maintained her home in Los Angeles when she worked on the West Coast (via Forbes).

According to The Sunday Times, Channing moved from Maine to the U.K. in 2019. She has been living alone following the passing of cinematographer Dan Gillham, her partner of 25 years, five years ago. Having previously worked in London's West End in 2017 in the play "Apologia" (via The Sunday Times), Channing recently returned to the U.K. stage in "Night, Mother," where she is earning rave reviews (via the Evening Standard). While Channing still has some U.S. projects in the works — including the comedy feature "Lapham Rising" (via IMDb) opposite Bobby Cannavale — her decision to move to the U.K. appears firm. According to the Los Angeles Times, the actor sold her Los Angeles home in June 2020 for $2.7 million.