Celebrity Then And Now
Delta Burke
Name: Delta Burke
Birthdate: January 1, 1970
Famous Years: 1982-2009
Currently Known For: Semi-Retired Actress, Businesswoman
Networth: $3 MillionFamous For: Designing Women, Boston Legal, Filthy Rich
Delta Burke
Name Delta Burke
Birthdate January 1, 1970
Famous Years 1982-2009
Currently Known For Semi-Retired Actress, Businesswoman
Networth $3 Million
Famous For Designing Women, Boston Legal, Filthy Rich

The public, including critics, can be very cruel regarding your work as an actress even if it has nothing to do with your abilities. Nobody knows this more than Delta Burke, whose personality and figure received much more attention throughout her career than her actual acting chops.

Burke was born on July 30, 1956 in Orlando, and found instant success as a teenager when she was entered into multiple pageants, typically taking home the crown. This included Miss Florida, which she won in 1974. Winning the award allowed Burke to get a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where she hoped to hone her skills as an actress and become a star.

Throughout much of her early career, Burke had appeared in guest roles and on television movies. Some of her more notable roles included the series “Filthy Rich” where she appeared for 15 episodes, as well as “The Love Boat” and “1st & Ten”. In 1986, Burke would land her most notable role to date when she was cast as Suzanne Sugarbaker on the series “Designing Women”, starring on the show for 120 episodes.

After the first couple of seasons, it became apparent to the public that Burke had been gaining weight. Not only that, but there were many rumors surrounding the backstage situation with “Designing Women” that said the cast was having a fallout with Burke. In her final two seasons on the show, Burke was nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series by the Emmy Awards, but that wasn’t enough to keep her around.

Rumors said that producers dumped Burke because she had put on weight, while others said that she was difficult to work with. When Burke was nominated for an Emmy in 1990, she said that “There are a lot of things wonderful about it, but I have not wanted to be there for some time now. It is not a good workplace, not a good environment...It’s so strange, being part of something that’s so wonderful and so awful at the same time.”

Show creator Linda Bloodworth Thomason and husband Harry were forced to respond, saying that “We are all mentally exhausted from the daily trials and tribulations of Delta Burke.” The feud became very public, though it was Burke that was painted as the antagonist as all of the cast members also took the side of the Thomasons. With that, Burke was no longer part of “Designing Women” that lasted for two additional seasons without her character.

At the time, Burke said that there was “A lot of frustration and anger,” adding that “I felt very much the fall guy.” It wasn’t all bad on the set, though, as Burke explained that “There were a lot of good times, but there were an awful lot of bad times that didn’t have to happen.”

Burke would take a year off from acting and switched up her hairstyle, going blonde from her regular brunette. She also starred in her own show called “Delta” that would air for just 17 episodes, and went back to being a brunette and making amends with Linda Bloodworth Thomason as the two paired up for a series called “Women of the House”. The series would have Burke playing the same character as she did on “Designing Women”, but that also lasted just 13 episodes.

Since her original “Designing Women” days, Burke has been married to actor Gerald McRaney, and the two tied the knot in May 1989, and have been together ever since. The couple owns a clothing company and also an antique store, while also continuing their acting careers.

From the late 1990s until now, Burke has appeared in films such as “What Women Want” and “Good Boy!”, but has mainly been on television with roles that lasted for multiple episodes in “Popular”, “DAG” and “Boston Legal”, with most of her attention on TV movies. However, Burke has only had one role since 2009, and that came in a pilot for the show “Counter Culture” that wasn’t picked up.”

Now in her early 60s, Burke is happy with living a quieter life, and has been focusing on her health. Burke was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which caused her to start a weight loss program. These days, Burke is around 150 pounds, which is a far cry from the 215 pounds she said she weighed when she left “Designing Women”.

Burke is also more vocal about mental health issues and being advocate for gay rights, as well as diabetes and compulsive hoarding syndrome awareness, all things that she’s dealt with throughout her entire life. It’s unclear if she still has any interest in continuing her acting career, but Burke already made her mark in Hollywood as one of the more memorable star of the 1980s and 1990s. With the way Hollywood is going, don’t be surprised to see a “Designing Women” revival in the future, either.