There are always those celebrities who flood the tabloids during their prime and then seem to disappear off the face of the earth, like Meg Ryan and Phoebe Cates. Former Designing Women star Delta Burke is another of these actresses. Her career peaked around the 1990s before it eventually fizzled out in the 2000s. Read on to discover what this former pageant queen and TV star is up to now.
Designing Women years
Delta Burke spent much of her high school years competing in beauty pageants. She won a scholarship through the Miss America Organization, which allowed her to attend a program at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She took on some small roles in the 1980s on The Chisholms, Filthy Rich, and 1st & Ten. Burke first made a name for herself when she was cast as Suzanne Sugarbaker – a former beauty pageant queen – on Designing Women.
She was easily one of the most popular cast members, earning two Emmy nominations for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. While things looked good from the outside, there were many problems behind the scenes. In a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters, Burke revealed that the show was a “difficult, unpleasant workplace.” This prompted the Designing Women producers to counter her statement, claiming she was “impossible to work with.”
She continued acting
Eventually, she was fired because of her difficulties with other cast members. Producers said it was because she was horrible to work with, especially after she married Major Dad actor Gerald McRaney in 1989. Allegedly, McRaney told Burke she should be “the boss” of the show.
Burke completely disagreed, saying the rift was because she was open about the “psychological abuse” she experienced on set over her weight. However, this experience with Designing Women didn’t stop Burke from continuing her acting career.
She was cast in a number of well-known pieces, but her popularity was definitely in decline, even when she reprised her role as Suzanne Sugarbaker in a 1995 spinoff series called Women of the House. She went on to be a supporting actress in What Women Want and had guest roles on Boston Legal and Drop Dead Diva. Burke also tried her hand at Broadway, starring in Steel Magnolias and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
By 2008 she was dealing with numerous health problems: diabetes, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and hoarding, for which she sought treatment.
Where is she now?
Slated to make a comeback in her own 2012 show Counter Culture, it didn’t quite go as planned. While filming the pilot episode, Delta had a bad fall which caused them to press pause on production. Ultimately, the show was never picked up. Since then, she has stayed away from reviving her Hollywood career. She opened up about what she’s been up to in a 2023 interview with Daily Mail.
She reported, “Everything is fine, I’m just not very exciting right now,” with no Hollywood work on the calendar. Instead, she has been focusing on her marriage, which she speaks very highly of. Perhaps the most important thing she achieved during this time away from the spotlight was coming to accept herself, according to someone close to her, after years of tabloid ridicule for her appearance and her weight.
Just because she stayed away from acting doesn’t mean Burke hasn’t done anything. She works as a clothing designer and manager of Delta Burke Designs in New York City, and she and McRaney share ownership of an antique store in Mississippi.