Early lifeMarg (pronounced with a hard "G", unlike the name Marge) Helgenberger was born November 16, 1958 in Fremont, Nebraska but was raised in North Bend, Nebraska. Marg graduated from North Bend Central High School. She is the daughter of Mary Kay (née Bolte), a nurse, and Hugh Helgenberger, a meat inspector. She is of Irish and German descent and had a Roman Catholic upbringing. Marg has one older sister named Ann and a younger brother named Curt. One of her first jobs, as a teenager, was spending her summers and her Christmas breaks working as a "deboner" at the meat packing plant where her father was employed. Helgenberger played the French horn in her high school (North Bend Central High School) marching band. Until she went to college, Helgenberger wanted to be a nurse like her mother. Marg attended Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) in Kearney, Neb., then attended Northwestern University's School of Speech in Evanston, Illinois (now the School of Communication) and earned a B.S. degree in Speech and Drama.
CareerHelgenberger got her start as a nightly weather girl at KHGI-TV Kearney, Nebraska while attending college (her name was changed by the producer to Margi McCarty). During the summer she also worked as a deboner at her father's meat packing plant. After portraying the role of Blanche Dubois in a university production of A Streetcar Named Desire, she was bitten by the acting bug.
While performing in a summer of 1981 NU campus productions of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, in which she played Kate, Marg was spotted by a scout for the TV soap opera Ryan's Hope. Soon after completing college, Marg landed her first professional acting role on the long-running ABC Daytime soap opera, playing uptight amateur cop Siobhan Ryan Novak (1982–1986), a role previously played by Sarah Felder and Ann Gillespie. Helgenberger departed Ryan's Hope in January 1986 and was subsequently replaced in the role of Siobhan by Carrell Myers.
Helgenberger guest starred in an episode of ABC's mystery/detective series based on Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, Spenser: For Hire, NBC's legal drama Matlock and ABC's drama thirtysomething. She also played a regular role as Natalie Thayer, opposite Margot Kidder and James Read, on CBS’ six-episode drama comedy series Shell Game (1987).
Karen Charlene "K.C." Koloski, a heroin-addicted prostitute on the ABC war drama series China Beach, was Marg’s first prominent role. Her performance from 1988 to 1991 on the highly-acclaimed dramatic series won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1990.
Meanwhile, in 1989, Marg made her feature film debut in a leading role as an all-night answering service operator in one segment of the Wheat brothers’ horror anthology After Midnight. She followed it up with a role in Steven Spielberg's romantic comedy-drama Always (starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman), a modern version of the original 1943 Victor Fleming film A Guy Named Joe.
During the early to mid 1990s, Marg played roles in Michael Bortman's adaptation of Robert Boswell's novel, Crooked Hearts (1991; with Peter Berg, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Noah Wyle and Peter Coyote), Gregg Champion's action comedy The Cowboy Way (1994), in which she played Woody Harrelson's love interest, and had a small role as Capt. Alison Sinclair in Michael Bay's action comedy film starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, Bad Boys (1995). She also played Dr. Laura Baker, a molecular biologist, in Roger Donaldson's sci-fi thriller, Species (1995), and reprised the role in the sequel, Species II (1998).
During that time, TV viewers could also catch her in such television films Blind Vengeance, Lifetime’s Death Dreams, PBS’ historical documentary Not on the Frontline (as a narrator) and CBS’ In Sickness and in Health. Additionally, she was also seen opposite Bruno Kirby in I'll Be Waiting, a segment of Showtime's Fallen Angels helmed by Tom Hanks, and as a novelist on the ABC miniseries Stephen King's The Tommyknockers opposite Jimmy Smits. She was also seen in the CBS miniseries When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn and made her first collaboration with director Peter Weller in Showtime's Partners. After playing a recurring role as George Clooney's love interest on NBC's medical drama ER, Marg became David Caruso's sex-starved widow on Showtime’s Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast, helmed by Weller, and starred as a woman involved with Steven Seagal in the 1997 action film Fire Down Below. She also starred as a talk show host on Murder Live and portrayed the furious sibling to Steven Weber's character on Showtime's miniseries about the elusive Gulf War Syndrome, Thanks of a Grateful Nation. She also starred opposite Ann-Margret in Showtime's Happy Face Murders.
In 2000, Helgenberger made a guest appearance in the Valentine's Day episode of Frasier, in which Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) finally wears down his dad Martin's resistance and gets the older man to accompany him to the opera. Actually, this invitation is but a smokescreen, so that Frasier can "accidentally" run into his newest dream girl Emily (Helgenberger).
Helgenberger scored another big break when she snagged the co-starring role of Catherine Willows, a former show girl employed as a blood spatter analyst on the CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Her performance as the female lead has earned her two Emmy Award and two Golden Globe nominations. In 2005, she and her fellow cast members won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
When CSI first started filming, Helgenberger visited the Clark County Coroner’s Office to see how things were really done. She even viewed autopsies that were being performed. She says that she often plays hacky sack with the guys during their free time on set. Helgenberger got the chance to act with her husband, Alan Rosenberg, again when he guest starred on CSI, Season 5 ("Weeping Willows") and Season 7 ("Leaving Las Vegas").
During her stint on the hit show, Marg supported Julia Roberts in the film Erin Brockovich and portrayed Patsy Ramsey in the CBS miniseries about the mysterious murder of 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey in Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. She also starred as Dennis Quaid’s wife and Scarlett Johansson’s mother in writer-director Paul Weitz's romantic drama comedy In Good Company (2004) and appeared on Pond's Smooth Perfection Skin Cream 2005 print ad.
Marg is currently filming writer-director Charles Burmeister's upcoming thriller, Columbus Day, starring Val Kilmer.
In 2005, Universal Studios submitted Helgenberger in the best supporting actress category to the Oscars for her performance as Ann Foreman in the 2004 movie In Good Company. In 2007, she was featured in the movies Conan: Red Nails (as the voice of Princess Tascela) and Mr. Brooks. In Mr. Brooks her character's daughter is played by Danielle Panabaker, the sister of Kay Panabaker, who plays Catherine Willow's daughter on CSI.
In mid 2006, Helgenberger’s hometown of North Bend, Nebraska, population 1213, renamed the street on which Helgenberger had her childhood home "Helgenberger Avenue."
In animation, she lent her voice as Greek goddess Hera on DC Universe straight-to-video feature Wonder Woman.
Helgenberger is the unrequited love interest of the bespectacled amphibian Buddy in Mark Heath's Spot the Frog comic strip.
In 2008, she renewed her CSI contract with CBS for 2 additional years. In July 2010, her contract was again renewed for an 11th season with CSI. Following William Petersen's departure from CSI, Helgenberger became one of the two highest paid actors in any of the CSI shows (Vegas, Miami, NY), earning $375,000 per episode, the same as David Caruso, and $25,000 more per episode than Laurence Fishburne.
Media spotlightHelgenberger continues to be included in lists of Hollywood's Most Beautiful. In 2002, she was listed on People magazine’s "50 Most Beautiful People", she was included in Esquire magazine’s “5 More Women We Love” in 2002, she ranks #16 on VH1's 40 Hottest Women over 40, number 15 of The 25 Most Attractive (Famous) Women in America in 2004, in 2004 she ranked number 35, 30, 29, 20, 17, 12 and 9 on The Glamour Girls Hot 100 due to her movie In Good Company and her TV Guide cover. She was on the list for about 10 weeks and spent 1 week on the top ten. She is the 4th oldest woman to be in the top ten.
Her character on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Catherine Willows, along with the character of Gil Grissom, was named number 82 in "Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters". On March 2006, Catherine Willows was named number 6 on The Star's Top Ten Hottests TV Characters.
In 2007, she was named one of the most pleasant celebrities on E! online's Answer B!tch Q&A page. In March 2007, Helgenberger was named one of the sexiest TV stars of 2007 by TV Guide magazine. Entertainment Weekly included her in the list of "The EW 100 Stars We Love Right Now" in 2007.
In April 2008, she joined the roster of celebrities that sported the famous milk mustache as she was chosen as an endorser of the Got Milk? campaign.
In December 2009, Forbes magazine placed Helgenberger third amongst prime-time's top-earning women with estimated earnings of $9.5 million dollars, after Tyra Banks and Katherine Heigl.
Personal lifeIn 1984, Marg Helgenberger met Alan Rosenberg, a guest actor on Ryan's Hope. The two became friends and started dating in 1986. They married in 1989 and have one son, Hugh Howard Rosenberg (born October 21, 1990), named after Helgenberger's late father, Hugh Helgenberger. On December 1, 2008, the couple announced that they were separating, and on March 25, 2009, she filed for divorce.
As a result of Helgenberger's mother's 27 year battle against breast cancer, Helgenberger and Rosenberg became involved in the fight against breast cancer. They have hosted a benefit called Marg and Alan's Celebrity Weekend every year in Omaha, Nebraska since 1997.
- Conan: Red Nails (2009) .... Princess Tascela
- Wonder Woman (2009) .... Hera
- Columbus Day (2008) .... Alice
- Mr. Brooks (2007)... Mrs. Emma Brooks
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000–present) (TV) ... Catherine Willows
- In Good Company (2004) ... Ann Foreman
- King of the Hill (2004) (TV series) ... Mrs. Hanover/Pretty Student
- Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenét and the City of Boulder (2000) (TV)... Patsy Ramsey
- Frasier (1 episode, 2000) (TV) ... Emily, an Opera Buff.
- Erin Brockovich (2000) ... Donna Jensen
- Lethal Vows (1999) ... Ellen Farris
- Happy Face Murders (1999) ... Jen Powell
- Thanks of a Grateful Nation (1998) (TV) ... Jerrilynn Folz
- Species II (1998) ... Dr. Laura Baker
- Giving Up the Ghost (1998) ... Anna Hobson
- Gold Coast (1997) (TV) ... Karen DiCilia
- The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997) ... Lizzy
- Fire Down Below (1997) ... Sarah Kellogg
- My Fellow Americans (1996) ... Joanna (uncredited)
- Frame by Frame (1996) ... Det. Rose Ekberg
- ER (5 episodes, 1996) ... Karen Hines
- Inflammable (1995) (TV) ... Lt. (j.g.) Kay Dolan
- The Larry Sanders Show (1995) (TV) ... Susan Elliot
- Species (1995) ... Dr. Laura Baker
- Bad Boys (1995) ... Capt. Alison Sinclair
- Just Looking (1995) ... Darlene Carpenter
- The Cowboy Way (1994) ... Margarette
- Where Are My Children? (1994) (TV) ... Vanessa Meyer Vernon Scott
- Lie Down with Lions (1994) (TV) ... Kate Nessen
- Keys (1994) (TV) ... Maureen 'Kick' Kickasola
- Blind Vengeance (1994) ...
- Fallen Angels (1993) (TV) ... Eve Cressy
- When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn (1993) (TV) ... Debbie Banister
- Distant Cousins (1993) ... Connie
- The Tommyknockers (1993) (TV) ... Roberta "Bobbi" Anderson 
- Partners (1993) ... Georgeanne Bidwell
- Through The Eyes Of A Killer (1992) ... Laurie Fisher
- In Sickness and in Health (1992) (TV) ... Mickey
- The Hidden Room (1991) (TV) ... Jane
- Tales from the Crypt (1991) (TV) ... Vicky
- Death Dreams (1991) (TV) ... Crista Westfield
- Crooked Hearts (1991) ... Jennetta
- Blind Vengeance (1990) (TV) ... Virginia Whitelaw
- Peacemaker (1990) ... Mrs. Cooper
- Always (1989) ... Rachel
- After Midnight (film) (1989) ... Alex
- China Beach (1988–1991) (TV) ... Karen Charlene 'K.C.' Koloski
- Matlock (1987) (TV) ... Laura Norwood
- Shell Game (1987) (TV) ... Natalie Thayer
- Spenser: For Hire (1986) (TV) ... Nancy Kettering
- Tootsie (1982) ... Suzanne
- Ryan's Hope (1981-82) (TV) ... Siobhan Ryan Novak
- Guest appearances
- The Daily Show (December 2001)
- The Early Show (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007)
- The View (2003, 2006, 2010)
- Live with Regis and Kelly (2005, 2006, 2007)
- The Ellen DeGeneres Show (December 2005)
- The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)
- On the Air with Howard Stern (2005)
- The Tony Danza Show (2005)
- "What A Pair" Concert (May 2006)
- The Late Show with David Letterman (September 2006, April 2009)
- "What A Pair" Concert (June 2007)
- 2001: nominated – Favorite Supporting Actress in a Drama – Erin Brockovich
- 1990: won – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
- 1992: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
- 2001: nominated – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – CSI
- 2003: nominated – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – CSI
- 1991: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – China Beach
- 1991: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
- 1992: nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – China Beach
- 2002: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – CSI
- 2003: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – CSI
- 2002: nominated – Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Drama – CSI
- 2002: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
- 2003: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
- 2004: nominated – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
- 2005: won – Favorite Female TV Star – CSI
- 2005: won – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI
- 2005: won the Screen Actors Guild Award – The cast of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – CSI
- 2001: nominated – Actress of the Year in a New Series – CSI
- 1989: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach
- 1990: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach
- 1991: won – Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series – China Beach