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I don't think I've ever done a fantasy before and I've always loved them. I always think they're essential, that's why they've lasted. I'm attracted to it and it seemed to be a juicy, fun role to be able to wave your hand flying away. I like this series a lot. Why wouldn't I do it?
—Barbara Hershey src

Barbara Hershey is the American actress who portrays Cora on ABC's Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.


Barbara Lynn Herzstein,[3] professionally known as Barbara Hershey, was born on February 5, 1948 in Hollywood, California.[1] Her parents are Arkansas native Melrose Moore of Presbyterian Irish background, and New York-born horse racing statistician Arnold Nathan Herzstein,[3] who has Hungarian and Russian roots.[4]

As the youngest of three siblings, Barbara was a quiet and fearful school girl[5] with dreams of a career as an actress. During high school, a drama teacher helped her find an acting agent in Hollywood, and at age seventeen, she was cast in the television series, Gidget. After earning her diploma from Hollywood High School, she found work on another television series called, The Monroes, starring alongside of Michael Anderson Jr. Soon, Barbara was also working in the film industry on such films as, With Six You Get Eggroll, Heaven with a Gun, The Baby Maker, The Pursuit of Happiness and Boxer Bertha.[6]

Her career has lasted over fifty years in the industry and many of her earlier roles filling the character of a wild child. As Barbara grew older, she regained some respect in Hollywood with her role on the miniseries, From Here to Eternity and was also on the big screen in such films as, The Stunt Man, The Right Stuff, The Natural starring Robert Redford, Hoosiers, Hannah and Her Sisters, Beaches, Shy People and A World Apart. For the last two film roles, she won two Best Actress Awards at the Cannes Film Festival.[6]

Barbara regained popularity in the 1990s on the television miniseries, A Killing in a Small Town for which she was awarded an Emmy as well as a Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Lead Actress. In 1992, she was cast in another mini-series, Stay the Night, and again in 1993 for Return to Lonesome Dove. Following her appearance in The Portrait of a Lady, she received an Academy Award nomination and won a Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. Some of her later roles include on television films Daniel Deronda, Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, and Murder on the Orient Express. In movies, she made appearances in Drowning on Dry Land, Answers to Nothing,[6] Black Swan as well as supernatural horror Insidious and its sequel.

She has one son, Tom, who was born with the name Free, from a long-term relationship with actor David Carradine.[5]


  • Although born under the last name Herzstein, and took on the name Hershey during her acting career, she has also been credited under the name Barbara Seagull.[6]
  • Voiced the Queen of Hearts in "Hat Trick" although the role was played by Jennifer Koenig.[2]
  • After the announcement that the seventh season would be the final season of the series, she wrote the following on Twitter:
I had a great time on this show, with all of the lovely people on it and behind it! So enjoyed being Cora. Love to Eddy, Adam, Lana, Rebecca, Colin and everyone. And the wonderful fans of the show.❤️[7]


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

External links


Start a Discussion Discussions about Barbara Hershey

  • Cora is returning!?!

    25 messages
    • Yeah. I think Cora is a horrible villain. But after last night, I feel Sultan is more horrible than Cora. 
    • ChocolatEyes613 wrote:DarKingdomHearts wrote:I hope his relation with Jasmine is more explained. I can imagine him having one weak spot for ...
  • Pretty Sure Cora Will Return

    30 messages
    • Cora obviously was a fairly popular character on OUAT, or they would have gotten rid of her, so I imagine that they would bring her back ...
    • I actually think Cora was the most well written villain role on the show. She clawed her way to the top. Every action she takes is one to ens...
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