Born in Houston, Texas to Edmund (Director of Water Safety Services at the Red Cross) and Karin (a registered nurse) Haapaniemi, Lisa had the distinction of being the only girl in a family of five boys (and no, she was not spoiled by them). As an athletic family, they excelled in swimming and diving. Lisa also expressed a keen interest in acting and began classes at Houston’s Alley Theater when she was ten years old, landing a role in a Paramount Pictures TV pilot titled “Two Boys.” From the Alley, she went to Houston Music Theater to continue acting, and performed in a series of children’s musicals called Prince Street Player Musicals for the next four years. Entering the High School For the Performing Arts, Lisa majored in dance, and in 1974, she moved to New York to train with the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey Ballet, performing guest appearances and dancing with the New York Contemporary Dancers. While in New York, she began acting again, studying with Warren Robertson, and was a featured performer in Broadway’s “Hellzapoppin” with Jerry Lewis, before packing up with her husband, and moving to Los Angeles, California.
In Los Angeles, Lisa held many film, television roles, and she also wrote, directed, and starred in the play Without a Word with her husband, Patrick, garnering six Drama Critics Awards including Best Play, Writing, Direction, and Performance. Some of her film credits include One Last Dance, Beat Angel, Younger and Younger, Slam Dance and Steel Dawn. She starred in the television series Super Force. And returning to Broadway in 1993, she starred in Will Rogers Follies, in addition to performing in the plays Love Letters, and an award-winning production of The Brick and the Rose.