Belinda Montgomery, who sometimes inserted the middle initial “J.” into her stage moniker, is a native of Canada, where she began her career on TV in the 1967 series Barney Boomer (1967). She then proceeded to play “Cinderella” and essayed the roles of other emotional and/or confused teen types as she worked her way up the acting ladder.
The petite brunette, whose gentle, misty-eyed prettiness reminded one of actress Bonnie Bedelia, was born on July 23, 1950, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She arrived in Hollywood while still in her late teens and TV, again, became her mainstay playing a number of soulful-eyed victims and troubled soul types in engaging dramatic situations. Her younger brother (by 11 years), Lee Montgomery, not yet a teen, was also making fine strides in films and TV. Billed often as “Lee Harcourt Montgomery”, he would become best known for befriending the title rodent in the cult horror thriller Ben (1972). Another sibling, sister Tannis G. Montgomery, showed up on film and TV as well during the 70s and 80s.
Making one of her earliest ingénue appearances on an episode of The Virginian (1962), Belinda became increasingly popular as a standard young fixture on the 70s TV-movie circuit, sharing billing with a number of the industry’s top talents. Her first, Ritual of Evil (1970), had her co-starring as Anne Baxter’s daughter as part of a devil-worshiping California family. She and Tim Matheson received fine notices as a young frontier couple in love who run away and find unexpected adventure in Lock, Stock and Barrel (1971). The innocent-looking beauty could always be counted on to brighten up the scenery and did so in the mini-movie western The Bravos (1972) co-starring George Peppard and Pernell Roberts, but she, Lois Nettleton and even Play Misty for Me (1971) scenestealer Jessica Walter were upstaged by the campy histrionics of prison matron Ida Lupino in the TV prison drama Women in Chains (1972), now considered a cult classic. Belinda returned to her devilish ways again as a sinless innocent in The Devil’s Daughter (1973) co-starring another veteran scenery chewer (Shelley Winters) and also enhanced the mysterious proceedings in Crime Club (1973) and The Hostage Heart (1977).
Belinda displayed fine, touching moments on series TV as well — multiple times, in fact, on the popular primetime soaps Medical Center (1969) and Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969). It wasn’t surprising that, later, she found herself acting in such daytime sudsers as Days of Our Lives (1965). A warm, dependable player, one could always find her guesting somewhere on the tube especially, it seemed, as a vulnerable innocent in crime outings (Mannix (1967), The Rookies (1972), Cannon (1971), Barnaby Jones (1973), The Streets of San Francisco (1972)). She showed her strong, professional side as well as the scientist who rescues and protects superhuman Patrick Duffy in the one-season adventure series Man from Atlantis (1977).
An occasional presence in film, she had a prime female role in The Todd Killings (1971), based on a true-life serial killer (played by Robert F. Lyons) in which her sister, Tannis G. Montgomery, had a small part. One of her best movie roles came as the supportive second lead in The Other Side of the Mountain (1975) and its 1978 sequel, The Other Side of the Mountain: Part II (1978), which chronicled the life and tragedy of one-time skiing champion and Olympic hopeful Jill Kinmont (played by newcomer Marilyn Hassett), who was left a quadriplegic after a sporting accident.
While not afforded top-flight stardom in the early 70s within the confines of her troubled teen typecast, Belinda matured into a pleasantly engaging adult into the next decade while offering a number of inspired mom/wife roles. One of her more poignant portrayals came in the form of Barbara Marciano in the TV-movie Marciano (1979) as the wife of famed boxer Rocky Marciano (played by Tony Lo Bianco). In the recurring role of Don Johnson’s estranged wife in Miami Vice (1984) for a time, she also played a selfless mate and mother in the short-lived series Aaron’s Way (1988). She reached her maternal peak, however, as the hands-on parent of young Neil Patrick Harris in the Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989) series, wherein she and James Sikking provided a nice and balanced counterpart to the now-public life of the young medical prodigy. Deserving of even more attention, Belinda Montgomery’s naturalness on camera and solid body of work throughout the years is a testament to her talents. Seen less and less after her “Doogie Houser” success in 1993, she most recently appeared in a Ghost Whisperer (2005) episode. A talented painter, she now devotes a large amount of her time to her artwork.
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