Mary Marg Helgenberger (born November 16, 1958) is an American film and television actress, perhaps best known for her roles as Catherine Willows in the CBS drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and as K.C. Koloski in the ABC drama China Beach, which earned her the 1990 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Helgenberger 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).
In 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.
Marg (pronounced with a hard "G", unlike the name Marge) Helgenberger was born 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.
Helgenberger 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.