Meredith Baxter carved out a niche in the 1970s and 1980s as an easygoing, often-brainy, all-American blonde most prominently featured on NBC's popular sitcom, "Family Ties" (1982-89). Baxter arrived as a regular in millions of American households on the controversial sitcom, "Bridget Loves Bernie" (CBS, 1972-73) when she married her onscreen partner, David Birney, assuming her new stage name - Meredith Baxter-Birney - for much of her career. She went on to earn two Emmy Award nominations as the worldly older sister on the ABC drama "Family" (1976-1980) before landing her signature role as Elyse Keaton, the kindly abiding mother of Michael J. Fox's precocious young Republican, Alex P. Keaton, in "Family Ties." Baxter would make a second career as the centerpiece of soapy TV movies-of-the-week, highlighted by her Emmy-nominated performance as a notorious true-life convicted murderess in "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story" (CBS, 1992) as well as a sequel soon after. Her onscreen trials would be reflected in her private battles with alcoholism and breast cancer and, more recently, her late-life realization she was a lesbian, coming out publicly in 2009 to brief media frenzy. Beyond her real-life foibles and her seemingly unabating movie-of-the-week travails, Baxter's pop cultural imprint would ever remain the sweet-natured Midwestern mom Elise Keaton, who taught Americans long before it was a major social issue, that family could always trump political division.