Stephanie Niznik, a Bangor-area native who appeared on the TV show “Everwood” and in the movie “Star Trek: Insurrection,” died unexpectedly in California last month.
Niznik, 52, was the co-valedictorian of John Bapst Memorial High School, Class of 1986, according to BDN archives, which added that she was from Brewer. Other national publications reporting on her death have listed her hometown as Bangor.
She told the BDN in a 1995 article that after high school, she received early acceptance to Harvard, but ultimately went to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, because she had a full academic scholarship to study genetics. But she veered in a different direction.
“I started to do acting as a release from my rigorous studies, and enjoyed it so much that I switched over to a theater major,” she said then.
After graduating magna cum laude in 1990, she went to the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita to continue her studies. After a year of doing theater there, she reached a point where she needed to find out if she could make a career of acting.
“So I headed for Hollywood,” she told the BDN.
There, Niznik was cast in plays and movies, but found her biggest success on the small screen. She was seen on series including “Murder, She Wrote,” “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and “JAG,” then got a regular role in the series “Diagnosis: Murder” from 1998 to 2000, according to Entertainment Weekly. In 2002, she was cast in one of her highest-profile roles as Nina, the neighbor of star Treat Williams on the drama “Everwood.”
She spent a lot of time in Utah, where the show was produced. She told the BDN in a 2004 article that she enjoyed the western state because it gave her the chance to return to her love of horseback riding and hiking in the woods with her dog.
“There’s a lot of beautiful things to see and do here,” Niznik said. “Utah reminds me of Maine, in terms of having seasons again. The snow, the shoveling, it brings back memories.”
Niznik’s cause of death has not been released. According to Variety, she was active in children and animal rescue operations and is survived by her mother and stepfather, brother and sister-in-law, niece and nephews, aunt and uncle and dogs Nucleus and Jake.
A tribute to her was shared on Twitter by Greg Berlanti and Rina Mimoun, the creator and showrunner for “Everwood,” who described the cast as being as close as a family.
“We recently lost the mother of our tribe, Stephanie Niznik,” they wrote, adding that she was “an incredible friend, a nurturing mother figure to our younger cast members and an artist who brought warmth, compassion and humor to every episode and our set.”