Dana Delany: Sex & Sensibility

"I wouldn’t mind being the female version of George Clooney," she says.

By Amy Wallace
Photograph: Photo by: Peggy Sirota

With that, she tells me the story of the dolphins. Over Christmas 2008, Delany swam with 400 of them off the Hawaii coast and emerged thinking about death. Or, to be more precise, about her utter lack of fear about death. Delany says that the day of the swim, as she was mulling over who in the world would miss her when she was gone, three people popped into her mind. And when she woke up from a deep, post-dolphin nap, two of those people had called or texted her. Out of the blue.

“I told them what I had been thinking, and we had these really heavy conversations,” Delany recalls, concluding, “That’s all that interests me these days: Who can I really connect to in the deepest sense?”

Delany has a six-year contract with Desperate Housewives, so at least for the near term, her Katherine Mayfair will be shaking things up on Wisteria Lane. (In a spring-season plot twist, she’s locking lips with a woman. As Delany has joked with Cherry, becoming a lesbian is not becoming a man, but it’s close.)

Ellroy has a long-term vision of Delany’s future. “What is she now, 54? When she moves into her sixties, she’ll be the doyenne,” he predicts. “And she can get some kind of groovy Barbara Stanwyck gig, like The Big
Valley
,” the late-1960s TV series on which Stanwyck played a nineteenth-century rancher who wielded a bullwhip and an iron will with equal skill. You know—a woman capable of doing a man’s job. “I’m not much for whips,” Ellroy says, “but Dana would look good with a whip in her hands.”

Amy Wallace has profiled Jamie Lee Curtis, Holly Hunter and Meg Whitman for More.

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