Elizabeth Key "Bess" Armstrong (born December 11, 1953) is an American film, stage and television actress. She is best known for her roles in films The Four Seasons (1981), High Road to China (1983), Jaws 3-D (1983), and Nothing in Common (1986). Armstrong also starred in the ABC drama series My So-Called Life and had lead roles in a number of made-for-television films.
Armstrong was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Louise Allen (née Parlange), who taught at Bryn Mawr, and Alexander Armstrong, an English teacher at the Gilman School. She attended the Bryn Mawr School for Girls and Brown University, from which she graduated with degrees in Latin and Theater (studying acting with Jim Barnhill and John Emigh). While at Bryn Mawr and Brown, Armstrong appeared in over one hundred stage plays.
Armstrong's professional acting career began in 1975 with the Off-Off Broadway debut, Harmony House. Then, in 1977, Armstrong made her television debut as Julia Peters on the CBS sitcom, On Our Own. In 1978 Armstrong starred opposite Richard Thomas in her first TV-movie Getting Married. She co-starred again with Richard Thomas in a 1981 stage production in Seattle of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, from which a video was made for HBO broadcast that year.
Armstrong continued to make several films for both the big and small screens in the 1980s, among them High Road to China opposite Tom Selleck; Jaws 3-D with Dennis Quaid; Alan Alda's The Four Seasons; the TV miniseries Lace; and Nothing in Common, starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason.
The 1990s brought Armstrong to her best-known role, playing Patty Chase on the series My So-Called Life. She later starred in several television films. In 2000, she appeared on the NBC sitcom Frasier, in the episode "Mary Christmas." In 2008, Armstrong played Penelope Kendall on ABC's Boston Legal. Armstrong remains active in films, television, and the stage. She had a recurring role in the Showtime series House of Lies as Julianne Hotschragar. She also appeared in Castle, Mad Men and NCIS.
Armstrong married John Fiedler, an executive at Columbia Pictures, on April 12, 1986.
In 1991, she spoke out about her abortion in the book The Choices We Made: Twenty-Five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion.