Back in the 80's, birthday girl, Meredith Baxter, was known as Meredith Baxter Birney because she was married to an actor named David Birney, and she was the perfect TV mom!

She was ex-hippie turned suburban yuppie mom, Elyse Keaton, to Michael J. Fox's, Alex P. Keaton, in 'Family Ties'.  She and her ex-hippie husband were trying to raise their three children with a sense of social justice in the crazy, materialistic world of the 1980's!  Ah, the highlarity that ensued was highlarious!

But I love, love, love the darker side of Meredith Baxter that came out, no, not when SHE came out, but that came out when she played a different kind of suburban mom in the Betty Broderick Lifetime movies! 

Betty Broderick was a San Diego housewife of a super rich lawyer who left her for his younger assistant.  I was living in San Diego at the time, and I remember seeing their names in the paper in the society columns, and reading about their fabulous life.  Their divorce was really high profile and really ugly, and then, lo and behold, Betty shot her husband and his new wife in the bedroom of their home.  Really ugly stuff, man.

But a couple of years later, Meredith Baxter took on the role, and, remembering what a great and loving mom she played in 'Family Ties', I didn't think she would be able to convince me that she was the socially ambitious wife turned bitter divorcee turned murderer, Betty Broderick.  Boy, was I wrong!  The two Meredith's were totally different!  I guess that's why they call it acting, huh?!

Anyway, here are two clips of Meredith Baxter - the first one is from the last episode of 'Family Ties', with the added bonus of the original commercials that aired that night:

Now, a clip from one of the 'Betty' movies.  Sit back and be amazed at the difference!  This is one intense clip!

She plays crazy really good, huh?!  Happy Birthday, Betty, I mean, Meredith Baxter!