Childhood & Early Life
Mary Kay Place was born on September 23, 1947 to Gwendolyn Lucille and Bradley Eugene Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Her father was an art professor and held the chairmanship of the art department at the ‘University of Tulsa’. Her mother worked as a teacher in Sydney Lanier Elementary School, Tulsa.
Her ancestry includes English, Polish, Swedish, as she had a Swedish father and a Polish mother.
She has two siblings, Brad Place Jr. and Ken Place.
After graduating from Nathan Hale High School, she studied at the ‘University of Tulsa’ to earn a speech degree. She was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and was initiated into the Gamma Tau (Tulsa) chapter.
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Mary Kay Place moved to Hollywood to become an actress. Unlike other struggling actors, who choose to work as waiters and waitresses, she started working as a production assistant to Conway and Norman Lear for the show 'The Tim Conway Comedy Hour' in the 1970s.
Impressed by her work, Lear gave her a writing assignment for the show 'All in the family'. She received her first on-camera break from Conway in 1973 for the same show. In its episode 'Archie Goes Too Far', she appeared as Betty Sue, in addition to singing the song: 'If Communism Comes Knocking on Your Door, Don’t Answer It.'
She wrote for and appeared on the 'Springtime' episode in the third season of the TV show M-A-S-H.
In 1976, Mary appeared in 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman', the satirical soap opera, as Loretta Haggers. The show was a big success. She reprised her role in 'Forever Fernwood'.
She wrote two songs 'Vitamin L' and 'Baby Boy' for her music album, 'Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers'. She was one of the backing vocal providers for the song 'All I can do'.
Her duet with Willie Nelson 'Something to Brag About' from the album 'Aimin' to Please' placed the duo on music charts in 1977. In the same year, she sang 'Blue Moon' with Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese-directed musical drama 'New York, New York'. She also hosted 'Saturday Night Live' around the same time.
Meanwhile, Mary continued writing scripts for several sitcoms like 'Phyllis' and 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', in collaboration with 'Designing Women' fame Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.
In 1979, she starred in 'Starting Over', a romantic comedy by Burt Reynolds. Four years later, she appeared as Meg in 'The Big Cill' by Lawrence Kasdan.
In the 1990s, Mary worked in a number of TV series and movies like: 'Captain Ron' (movie), 'My So-Called life' (TV show), 'Citizen Ruth' (movie), 'The Rainmaker' (movie), 'Manny & Lo' (movie), 'Being John Malkovich' (movie), 'Girl, Interrupted' (movie) and 'Pecker' (movie).
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Besides acting, she also directed some episodes of these sitcoms: HBO's 'Dream On', NBS's 'Friends' and 'Baby Boom'.
In the 2000s, she appeared in movies like 'Committed', 'Sweet Home Alabama', 'Human Nature', 'A woman's a helluva thing', 'My first mister' and 'Latter Days'. She also co-directed Don Henley's video for the song 'Taking You Home'.
She played important roles in 'The West Wing' (TV show), 'Tales of the city' (TV show), 'Further tales of the city' (TV show), 'Big Love' (TV show), '12 Miles of Bad Road' (TV show), 'The New Normal' (TV show), 'Last Weekend' (movie), 'I'll See You in My Dreams' (movie), 'The Breakup Girl' (movie), 'The Hollars' (movie), 'Youth in Oregon' (movie) and 'Downsizing' (movie).
She provided her voice for the character of Julie Powell's mother in 'Julie & Julia' (2009), Anne Hathaway's mother in 'The Intern' (2015) and two characters in the episode 'Peggy's Pageant Fever' of Fox's animated show 'King of the hill'.
Her most recent works include the movie 'Diane' (2018), HBO's comedy 'Bored to Death' and the Netflix series 'Lady Dynamite'.