A willowy brunette who segued from soap star to primetime performer, Kim Delaney began her career as a model while still attending high school in her native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating, she headed to NYC to try her hand at a career and was signed by the prestigious Elite Modeling Agency. Soon, her face was decorating the covers of such popular magazines as Seventeen and Glamour. At the same time, Delaney was training for a crossover career in acting, studying with well-known NYC teacher William Esper. Her determination paid off when she landed the role of the virginal teen heroine Jenny Gardner on the long-running ABC daytime serial "All My Children" in 1981. Over the course of her three years on the show, her character, who was from the wrong side of the tracks, underwent numerous trials as she attempted to hook up with her true love, the all-American Greg Nelson (portrayed by Laurence Lau).
Not one to stay put for very long, Delaney was chafing under the confines of her contract and the rigors of working in daytime. Although she had appeared in the CBS movie "First Affair" in 1983 and earned a Daytime Emmy nod, the actress opted to walk away from "All My Children" while her character was at the height of her popularity. When Jenny was killed by a deranged stalker, fans mourned, but Delaney had already set her sights on feature films.
Delaney made an auspicious debut in Hollywood as the girl who comes between friends Emilio Estevez and Craig Sheffer in the teen drama "That Was Then ... This Is Now" (1985) but the film proved only modestly intriguing to its target audience. Having been raised Catholic, it was perhaps not much of a stretch for her to play a nun in "The Delta Force" (1986; interestingly, her ex-husband Charles Grant also acted in the film). Like a lot of actresses, though, she had a hard time finding juicy roles, instead relegated to genre fare like the college comedy "Campus Man" (1987). Delaney did land one intriguing part, that of a woman who picks up a hitchhiker and after a night of passion, finds herself unable to be rid of him in the low-budget thriller "The Drifter" (1988).
Returning to the small screen, Delaney landed a 1987 recurring role on the hit NBC series "L.A. Law" in the first four episodes of the show's second season. Several unexceptional TV-movies followed before the actress co-starred with Joe Cortese (who would become her second husband) in the NBC sci-fi miniseries "Something Is Out There" in 1988. The following year, she was hired for the recurring role of journalist Alex Devlin in the Vietnam-set drama "Tour of Duty" but left the series when she became pregnant with her son.
After time out for motherhood, Delaney was again cast as a reporter, this time one on the trail of a undercover agent suspected of murder in the short-lived spy drama "The Fifth Corner" (NBC, 1992). She offered a strong performance opposite Jimmy Smits in the based-on-fact drama "The Broken Cord" (ABC, 1992), about a couple who adopt a Native American child born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She rounded out that year cast in the title role in the NBC miniseries adaptation of "Jackie Collins' Lady Boss".
Delaney then got sidetracked in number of subpar projects (like 1994's direct-to-video "Temptress" and "Darkman II: The Return of Durant"). She caught a break landing the role of alcoholic cop Diane Russell in a four-episode arc on "NYPD Blue" in 1995. Again cast opposite Smits (as Det. Bobby Simone), the actress sizzled in the part and the producers made overtures to the actress to have the character return on a regular basis. While Delaney had been prone to walking away from success in the past, she made the commitment and joined the permanent cast of the popular police drama in the fall of 1995. Over the course of her six-year run on the drama, Russell coped with her relationship with Simone, his untimely death and other troubles. In 1997, she received the Emmy Award as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. While working on the show, she managed to find time to appear in several telefilms, including "The Devil's Child" (ABC, 1997), a spin on "Rosemary's Baby" that marked her debut as a producer.
Producer Steven Bochco recognized that Delaney's talents weren't always being given a proper forum in an ensemble-driven series like "NYPD Blue", so when she opted to leave at the end of her contract in 2001, he created the ABC legal drama "Philly" expressly for her. The role Bochco wrote was a dream part for any actress -- a divorced woman juggling raising a son as well as maintaining a high-powered law practice. Delaney tore into her first series lead and proved more than capable of carrying a drama series. In 2002, she co-starred with David Caruso in the CBS crime series "CSI: Miami."