Mary Steenburgen

Mary Steenburgen

Feb. 8th, 1953
Born in
Newport, Arkansas, USA
5' 8

Mary Steenburgen's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
The Last Man On Earth TV Show
The Last Man On Earth
Joan of Arcadia TV Show
Joan of Arcadia
Back to the Future TV Show
Back to the Future
Dinner for Five TV Show
Dinner for Five
The Wayne Brady Show TV Show
The Wayne Brady Show
Ink TV Show

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Mary Nell Steenburgen is an American actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing the role of Lynda Dummar in Jonathan Demme's 1980 film Melvin and Howard.
Steenburgen, who studied at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse in the 1970s, also received a Golden Globe nomination for the 1981 film Ragtime, a BAFTA TV Award nomination for the 1985 TV miniseries Tender is the Night and an Emmy Award nomination for the 1988 TV film The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank. Her other film appearances include Parenthood (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Philadelphia (1993), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Elf (2003), The Brave One(2007), Step Brothers (2008), The Proposal (2009) and The Help (2011).
Born in Newport, Arkansas, the daughter of Nellie Mae (née Wall; 1923-2010), a school-board secretary, and Maurice Steenburgen (1914-1989), a freight-train conductor who worked at the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Steenburgen moved to Manhattan in 1972, waitressing at Magic Pan and later working at Doubleday while studying acting at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse under Will Esper.
Steenburgen's big break came when she was cast as the female lead in the 1978 Western Goin' South. In recent years, she has been in the comedy films, Step Brothers (2008), Four Christmases (2008) and The Proposal (2009). Dirty Girl, which features Steenburgen along with 'Juno Temple', 'Milla Jovovich' and 'William H. Macy', premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 12, 2010. She also appeared in the critically acclaimed film The Help (2011), and had a featured role as a lounge singer in the 2013 comedy Last Vegas.
In television, Steenburgen starred in the sitcom Ink (1996) with her husband, 'Ted Danson', and co-starred in the television miniseries Gulliver's Travels (1996) with Danson. She appeared as herself, alongside Danson, in the HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. Steenburgen played the mother of the title character in the CBS drama series Joan of Arcadia. In 2011, she made guest appearances in Bored to Death, again alongside Danson. Steenburgen starred in the 2011 FX pilot, Outlaw Country, but FX decided against making a series. She finally appeared on FX in the dark comedy Wilfred (U.S. TV series) 2011 through 2013 as Catherine, the lead character's eccentric and mentally ill mother. Steenburgen recurred on the NBC comedy 30 Rock in 2012 and 2013, playing the role of Diana Jessup.
In 2014, she began an extended guest arc as former Dixie Mafia boss Katherine Hale in the seasons five and six of FX's Justified. From 2015-2017
Steenburgen joined Orange Is the New Black. Most recently she has appeared in Last Man on Earth, Bless This Mess, and in 2020 Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.
In 1978, Steenburgen met and began a relationship with actor 'Malcolm McDowell' while both were co-starring in Time After Time. They married in (1980) and had two children together, Lilly and Charles. Steenburgen and McDowell split up in (1989).
On October 7, 1995, Steenburgen married actor 'Ted Danson', whom she met on the set of the movie Pontiac Moon in 1993, and became the stepmother to Danson's daughters Kate and Alexis from his previous marriage to producer Cassandra Coates. Steenburgen currently resides in the Los Angeles area with her family.

  • Is the third of 4 consecutive winners of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to have the initials "M.S.". The others are: 'Maggie Smith (I)' (qv) - _California Suite (1978)_ (qv), 'Meryl Streep' (qv) - _Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)_ (qv), and 'Maureen Stapleton' (qv) - _Reds (1981)_ (qv).
  • Referred to multiple times on _"Stargate SG-1" (1997)_ (qv) as the heartthrob of Colonel Jack O'Neill, played by 'Richard Dean Anderson' (qv).
  • (1978) Discovered by 'Jack Nicholson' (qv) in the reception room of Paramount's NY office. Nicholson cast her as his leading lady in _Goin' South (1978)_ (qv), Steenburgen's feature debut.
  • Mother of actress 'Lilly McDowell' (qv) (b. 1981) and producer/director 'Charlie McDowell' (qv) (b. 1983)
  • Shares a birthday with 'Mtley Cre' (qv) singer 'Vince Neil' (qv), her _The Trumpet of the Swan (2001)_ (qv) co-star 'Seth Green' (qv), 'James Dean (I)' (qv) and 'Ethan Phillips (I)' (qv).
  • President 'Bill Clinton (I)' (qv) and First Lady 'Hillary Rodham Clinton' (qv) attended Steenburgen's 1995 wedding to 'Ted Danson' (qv). Steenburgen had personally known Clinton since he was governor of Arkansas when she resided in Little Rock. The President celebrated his 51st birthday at the Martha's Vineyard home of the couple.
  • Played 'Jason Ritter' (qv)'s mother in _"Joan of Arcadia" (2003)_ (qv). Her husband 'Ted Danson' (qv) played Ritter's father in _Mumford (1999)_ (qv).
  • In both _Time After Time (1979)_ (qv) and _Back to the Future Part III (1990)_ (qv) she played the love interest of a time traveller who later became one herself. In the former, she was from the time traveller's future and in the latter, she was from his past.

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