Hot Take: Almost no one gives the best performance of their career on Cop Rock. If they do, it’s probably their only performance. To be fair to Kathleen Wilhoite, I don’t know that her best performance actually is as Patricia Spence on three episodes of the show. What I can say for sure is that it’s an incredible performance, one of the best on the show. In fact, she also wrote “Nothing Matters But Love” for one of her episodes and performed Randy Newman’s exquisite “Sandman,” one of the best songs of the series and one Newman himself recognized as being better than Cop Rock really deserved.
The fact is, there’s a lot to choose from, when you’re trying to pick Wilhoite’s best performance. Oh, mostly it’s the occasional guest shot on shows both famous and obscure, but still. She was Lucy’s sister on Twin Peaks and Susan Lewis’s sister on ER. She held Sam Beckett hostage on Quantum Leap and is the one who knows who Dalton is in Road House. She’s seen the Gilmore girls and Ally McBeal. These days, she’s even done an episode of Yellowstone. She has a whopping 133 credits.
Hopefully, at least one of those will help you know who she is. Because it’s definitely true that she’s not the best-known person going. The only thing I’ve been able to find where she actually starred was Pepper Ann, wherein she was the voice of Pepper Ann. Now, I haven’t seen Pepper Ann, but a glance at the cast makes me delighted to discover that they cast Kimmy Robertson in a recurring role. Still, that it’s voicework means that it won’t help people recognize her when they see her.
On the other hand, it’s really her voice that is so distinctive. One of the reasons the “Sandman” sequence is so heartbreaking is Wilhoite’s slightly rough alto croon. It’s a powerful song and a powerful scene, a woman who’s gotten so low that she’s selling her daughter for drug money. (Because Cop Rock.) She’s singing one last lullaby to the child she loves with her whole heart, but her love isn’t more powerful than her addiction until she fully realizes that it’s what she has done. The song is amazing.
Wilhoite writes her own songs, too. She’s released two albums. It’s clear her IMDb is incomplete as far as her music credits are concerned; if you search the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode that Wikipedia says one of her songs is on, it’s credited on the episode, but it’s not listed on her personal page. Therefore, even though it’s not listed on the Road House page, I fully believe that one of her songs is in the movie. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind owning one of her albums, and if there had ever been a Cop Rock soundtrack, she should’ve been on it.