Best known for starring as Lucy Bates on the TV series Hill Street Blues, she later became a film and television director, with her first feature being 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie.
She was a high school teacher who waited tables at The Second City before eventually joining the comedy troupe.
She started her directing career working on shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Doogie Howser, MD.
She was born in St. Louis to Nancy and William H. Nienhauser Sr.
She starred alongside Joe Spano on Hill Street Blues.