Born in Orlando, Florida, Delta Burke is the eldest of three. She began modeling and participating in beauty contests at an early age, having won 18 pageant titles by the time she was 17. She represented Florida in the Miss America Pageant, winning a talent scholarship, which she used to attend a two-year study program at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
In Hollywood, Delta won the co-starring role in the television movie Charleston, followed by starring roles in the miniseries The Seekers and The Chisholms and guest spots on numerous television movies and series. She landed the leading role in the series Filthy Rich and a starring role in HBO’s first weekly series, First and Ten. Of course, she is best known for her five-year stint as Suzanne Sugarbaker in CBS’s Designing Women, for which she received two Emmy award nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
After leaving Designing Women, Delta produced and starred in the ABC television series Delta where she actually sang and dyed her dark hair blonde. She later reunited with Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason to star in and produce Women of the House, a spin-off where she reprised her popular Suzanne Sugarbaker character.
It took Delta time, and therapy, to realize she liked herself better as a size 16 than as a “starved” size 6. The self-described “beautiful, curvy woman” is now on a mission to make other “real-size” women feel good about themselves with her line of plus-size clothing. She started designing fashions for herself during her very public weight gain on Designing Women. Fan letters helped her through that difficult time, making her want to give back. So the actress created her first size 14-26 collection several years ago, and now Delta Burke Designs is in several clothing chains and catalogs.
Delta’s autobiographical book, Delta Style: Eve Wasn’t a Size 6 and Neither Am I, explains how she dealt with a lot of problems, including sexual abuse as a child and her very public battle with her weight.
In addition to managing her successful New York design company, she continues to act and produce through her production company Perseverance, Inc. and is married to actor Gerald McRaney, star of television hits Simon and Simon, Major Dad, and Promised Land.
In 1999, Delta took on the recurring role of Cherry Cherry on the WB’s Popular. A part written specifically for Delta, Cherry is a former Miss Texas 1974. In addition, she filmed Sordid Lives with Olivia Newton John and landed the part of Mel Gibson’s secretary in What Women Want. For the 2000-2001 TV season, she appeared with David Alan Grier in the series DAG, where she played the First Lady. Delta followed that up with a starring role in the Lifetime Original Movie, Dangerous Child.
For 2003, The WB signed Delta as the lead in Sweet Potato Queens, a comedy based on the series of books by Mississippi writer Jill Conner Browne, however the Pilot was not picked up. Delta and Mac also starred together in the Lifetime Original Movie, Going for Broke.
In 2004, Delta made her Broadway debut as villainess Miss Mears in the musical comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie, followed by a 2005 broadway run in Steel Magnolias.