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Mary Steenburgen

Mary Steenburgen

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Also Known As: Mary Nell Steenburgen Died:
Born: February 8, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Newport, Arkansas, USA Profession: actor, comedian, playwright, executive producer, bookseller, waitress, cashier

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Soft-spoken and endearing, Mary Steenburgen first achieved a measure of fame with her debut role in the Jack Nicholson-directed Western "Goin' South" (1978), before winning raves and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Melvin's flustered but caring wife in Jonathan Demme's "Melvin and Howard" (1980). She starred alongside Steve Martin and an all-star ensemble cast in the Ron Howard family comedy "Parenthood" (1989), prior to falling in love with time-traveling Doc Brown in "Back to the Future III" (1990). She had a rare turn as an unlikable character when she reteamed with Demme for the heart-wrenching drama "Philadelphia" (1993), acting opposite Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks. After a small, but memorable role in Oliver Stone's political docudrama "Nixon" (1995), she later began what would be a steady string of appearances as herself - along with her celebrated husband Ted Danson - on the hit comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ). Increasingly cast in the role of family matriarch, Steenburgen infused these roles with an effervescence and wit that resulted in fully realized, eminently likable characters. She brought something extra to the role of James Caan's neglected wife in the Will...

Soft-spoken and endearing, Mary Steenburgen first achieved a measure of fame with her debut role in the Jack Nicholson-directed Western "Goin' South" (1978), before winning raves and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Melvin's flustered but caring wife in Jonathan Demme's "Melvin and Howard" (1980). She starred alongside Steve Martin and an all-star ensemble cast in the Ron Howard family comedy "Parenthood" (1989), prior to falling in love with time-traveling Doc Brown in "Back to the Future III" (1990). She had a rare turn as an unlikable character when she reteamed with Demme for the heart-wrenching drama "Philadelphia" (1993), acting opposite Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks. After a small, but memorable role in Oliver Stone's political docudrama "Nixon" (1995), she later began what would be a steady string of appearances as herself - along with her celebrated husband Ted Danson - on the hit comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ). Increasingly cast in the role of family matriarch, Steenburgen infused these roles with an effervescence and wit that resulted in fully realized, eminently likable characters. She brought something extra to the role of James Caan's neglected wife in the Will Ferrell Christmas comedy "Elf" (2003), and showed an inordinate amount of patience as Ferrell's mother in "Step Brothers" (2008). Pulling off a feat few actresses could manage, Steenburgen successfully transitioned from charming waif to elegantly mature actress over the course of 30-plus years, without any signs of slowing down.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 7 Days in Hell (2015)
2.
 One I Love, The (2014)
3.
 Song One (2014)
4.
 Last Vegas (2013)
5.
 Outlaw Country (2011)
6.
 Dirty Girl (2011)
7.
8.
9.
 Proposal, The (2009)
10.
 Open Road, The (2009)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised in Arkansas
1972:
Moved to NYC and sold books at Doubleday's while attending the first-year program at the Neighborhood Playhouse
:
Invited to return for the second year program; eliminated her thick Southern accent
:
Co-founded (with four other Playhouse graduates) and acted with Cracked Tokens, an improvisational comedy troupe
:
Performed with Cracked Tokens for the NYC Bureau of Alcoholism
1978:
Made film debut in Jack Nicholson's western, "Goin' South"
1979:
First leading role in a feature, "Time After Time" playing a modern woman who falls in love with author H.G. Wells (played by husband-to-be Malcolm McDowell)
1980:
Won an Academy Award for her performance in Jonathan Demme's "Melvin and Howard" as the wife of a man who claims to have befriended reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes
1982:
Featured in Woody Allen's "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy"
1985:
TV debut, playing the lead in the Showtime adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night"
1987:
Made London stage debut in Lindsay Anderson's "Holiday"
1988:
Earned an Emmy nomination for her role in the CBS movie "The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank"
1988:
Executive producing debut, "End of the Line"; also co-starred
1989:
Played Steve Martin's wife in the Ron Howard directed "Parenthood"
1990:
Played Clara Clayton, Doc's love interest, in Robert Zemeckis' "Back to the Future Part III"
1991:
Provided the voice of Clara Clayton for the CBS Saturday morning cartoon "Back to the Future: The Animated Series"
1993:
Made Broadway stage debut in the title role of "Candida"
1993:
Played an adulterous wife, having an affair with Johnny Depp in Lasse Hallström's "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"
1994:
Made Los Angeles stage debut in "Marvin's Room"
1995:
Portrayed the mother of Richard Nixon in the Oliver Stone biopic "Nixon"
1996:
Played the wife of the title character, opposite husband Ted Danson in the NBC miniseries, "Gulliver's Travels"
1996:
Cast opposite real-life husband Ted Danson in the CBS sitcom "Ink"
2000:
Returned to the NYC stage in "The Beginning of August"
2000:
Appeared several times opposite real life husband, Ted Danson on Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
2001:
Featured in the drama, "Life as a House" starring Kevin Kline
2002:
Joined the ensemble cast of "Sunshine State" written and directed by John Sayles
2003:
Played the wife of James Caan in the Jon Favreau comedy "Elf"
2003:
Cast as the title character's mother in the CBS drama "Joan of Arcadia"
2006:
Played the title role in Randall Miller's "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School"
2007:
Co-starred with Jodie Foster in the crime drama, "The Brave One"
2008:
Cast as Will Ferrell's mother in the comedy "Step Brothers"
2009:
Played Ryan Reynolds' mother in the comedy "The Proposal"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hendrix College: Conway , Arkansas -
Neighborhood Playhouse School: New York , New York - 1972

Notes

Received an honorary degree from Henderson College, Arkansas

Received an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Pauline Kael on Steenburgen's performance in Nicholas Meyer's "Time After Time" (1979): "She's very sweet in an out-of-it way--a stoned cupcake." --From "5001 Nights At the Movies" (Henry Holt & Co., 1991).

Steenburgen's 1995 wedding to Danson on Martha's Vineyard was attended by longtime friends President and Mrs. Clinton.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Malcolm McDowell. Actor. Married 1980; divorced 1989.
husband:
Ted Danson. Actor. Met during filming of "Pontiac Moon"; married on October 7, 1995.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Maurice Steenburgen. Union Pacific Railroad freight train conductor. Died of lung cancer age 74 in 1989.
mother:
Nell Steenburgen. Born in 1923; retired school-board secretary.
sister:
Nancy Kelley. First grade teacher.
daughter:
Lilly McDowell. Born January 22, 1981.
son:
Charlie McDowell. Born c. 1983.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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