Debra Winger was born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, into an Orthodox Jewish family; her parents were Robert Winger, a meatpacker, and Ruth (née Felder), an office manager.
Winger's acting career began with her role as "Debbie" in the 1976 sexploitation film Slumber Party '57. Her next role was as Diana Prince's younger sister Drusilla (Wonder Girl) in three episodes of ABC's TV series, Wonder Woman. This was followed by a guest role in Season 4 of the TV drama Police Woman in 1978.
Her first starring role was in Thank God It's Friday. In 1980, she starred in Urban Cowboy for which she received a BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. In 1982 she co-starred with Nick Nolte in Cannery Row and with Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In 1995 Winger decided to take a hiatus from acting.
In 2005, she earned an Emmy Award for her role in the TV film, Dawn Anna. In 2010 she returned to television, making a guest appearance as a high school principal in an episode of Law & Order. She also joined the cast of HBO's In Treatment as one of the three patients featured in the third season. In 2013 she starred in three episodes of In the Woods.
In 2017, she had a cameo as Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the TV Miniseries When We Rise. The same year, she starred in The Lovers. In 2018, she landed a role in a comedy-drama web television series, Patriot.
- Attended and graduated from Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School in Northridge, California in 1970.
- Sister-in-law of actor/writer Jim Howard.
- Gave birth to her 2nd child at age 42, a son Babe Howard on June 15, 1997. Child's father is her 2nd husband, Arliss Howard.