Stockard Channing (born February 13, 1944) is an American stage, film and television actress. She is known for her portrayal of First Lady Abbey Bartlet in the NBC television series The West Wing; for playing Betty Rizzo in the film Grease; and for her role in both the stage and screen versions of Six Degrees of Separation.
Channing was born Susan Antonia Williams Stockard in New York City, the daughter of Mary Alice (née English), who came from a large Brooklyn-based Irish Catholic family, and Lester Napier Stockard (died 1960), who was in the shipping business. She grew up on the Upper East Side. She is an alumna of The Madeira School, a Virginia boarding school for girls, after starting out at The Chapin School in New York City. She studied history and literature at Radcliffe College, and graduated in 1965.
Channing started her acting career with the experimental Theatre Company of Boston and eventually performed in the group's Off Broadway production of Adaptation/Next. In 1971, she made her Broadway debut in Two Gentlemen of Verona -- The Musical, working with playwright John Guare.