Recent recurring television roles include Barbara Fortnum on Reckless, Barbara Pelt on True Blood, Helene Beasley on The Office and Elizabeth Graves on the Golden Globe Award-winning series Homeland. She has starred in over 45 made-for-TV movies and is especially known for her series roles as Charlene Matlock on Matlock and Ashley Pfister, Fonzie’s fiancée, on Happy Days.
Among her extensive theatre credits, Purl has appeared on Broadway in Tony-nominated musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Getting and Spending and Off-Broadway in The Baby Dance and Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Regional theatre credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Oliver!, Grease, Camille, Same Time Next Year, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, The Threepenny Opera, Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, The Little Foxes, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, Phaedra in Hippolytus, Amanda in A Glass Menagerie, the title role in Nora, the original production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Dinner with Friends, Prudence in Beyond Therapy, The Road to Mecca with Miss Julie Harris, Nora in A Doll’s House, Love, Loss and What I Wore, The Vagina Monologues, The Year of Magical Thinking, and Copenhagen directed by Judy Hagerty Lovett. She has also performed at Long Wharf, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Santa Fe Opera, Cleveland Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Rubicon Theatre Company, Berkeley Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival (six seasons), Naples Philharmonic, Laguna Playhouse, Lensic Santa Fe, the Princess Grace Theatre in Monaco and the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo. Among her films are Disney's Mighty Joe Young and the award-winning indie Sundays.
Born in Connecticut, Purl grew up in Japan, becoming the only foreigner to have trained at the Toho Geino Academy. Her studies continued at Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg Institute. She is the founding director of the California International Theatre Festival.
Purl currently tours with her solo concert Midnight Caravan: Celebrating the Great Ladies of the Glamorous Nightclub Era and has appeared at Lincoln Center Jazz and Feinstein's at the Regency (New York), Catalina Jazz Club (Los Angeles), Crazy Coqs and The Pheasantry (London), Club Raye (Paris) and Satin Doll (Tokyo). Solo albums include Alone Together, Out of this World - Live and Midnight Caravan.