Estelle Parsons

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Estelle Parsons
Estelle Parsons Love American Style 1973.JPG
Parsons in a Love, American Style episode in 1973.
BornEstelle Margaret Parsons
(1927-11-20) November 20, 1927 (age 87)
Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.
Years active1956–present
Spouse(s)Richard Gehman (1953–1958; divorced); 2 children
Peter Zimroth (1983–present); 1 child
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Estelle Parsons
Estelle Parsons Love American Style 1973.JPG
Parsons in a Love, American Style episode in 1973.
BornEstelle Margaret Parsons
(1927-11-20) November 20, 1927 (age 87)
Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.
Years active1956–present
Spouse(s)Richard Gehman (1953–1958; divorced); 2 children
Peter Zimroth (1983–present); 1 child

Estelle Margaret Parsons (born November 20, 1927) is an American stage, film and television actress, Today Show television presenter, and occasional stage director.[1]

After studying law, Parsons became a singer before deciding to pursue a career in acting. She worked for the television program Today and made her stage debut in 1961. During the 1960s, Parsons established her career on Broadway before progressing to film. She received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and was also nominated for her work in Rachel, Rachel (1968).

She worked extensively in film and theatre during the 1970s and later directed several Broadway productions. More recently her television work included playing Beverly Harris on the sitcom Roseanne. She has been nominated five times for the Tony Award, (four times for Lead Actress of a Play and once for Featured Actress). In 2004, Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

Parsons was born in Lynn Hospital, Lynn, Massachusetts. Her mother, Elinor Ingeborg (née Mattsson), was a native of Sweden, and her father, Eben Parsons, was of English descent.[2][3][4]

She attended Oak Grove School for Girls in Maine. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1949, Parsons initially studied law at Boston University, and then worked as a singer with a band before settling on an acting career in the early 1950s.[5]


Moving to New York City, Parsons worked as a writer, producer and commentator for The Today Show. She made her Broadway debut in 1956 in the ensemble of the Ethel Merman musical Happy Hunting. She began performing Off-Broadway in 1961, and received a Theatre World Award in 1963 for her performance in Whisper into My Good Ear/Mrs. Dally Has a Lover (1962).[citation needed]

Parsons has received Tony Award nominations for her work in The Seven Descents of Myrtle (1968), And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little (1971), Miss Margarida's Way (1978), and Morning's at Seven (2002). She played the Widow Begbick in the American premiere of the WeillBrecht opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1970), and performed as Mrs. Peacham to Lotte Lenya's Jenny in Threepenny Opera on tour and in New York City. In 1978 she played Lady MacBeth in the Kauai Community Players production. She also played Ruth in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance on Broadway in 1981. From June 17, 2008 through May 17, 2009, she played the role of Violet Weston in August: Osage County. She continued playing the role during the show's national tour beginning July 24, 2009, in Denver.[citation needed]

As a director, Parsons has a number of Broadway credits, including a production of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and As You Like It in 1986. Off-Broadway, she directed Dario Fo's Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo (1983). She also served as the Artistic Director of the Actors Studio for five years, ending in 2003.[citation needed]

In 2004, Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Parsons' film career includes an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and a nomination for Rachel, Rachel (1968). She received a BAFTA Award nomination for her role in Watermelon Man (1970), and appeared in I Never Sang for My Father (1970), Two People (1973), A Memory of Two Mondays (1974), For Pete's Sake (1974), Dick Tracy (1990) and Boys on the Side (1995). She was also the original choice to play the part of Pamela Voorhees in the 1980 film Friday the 13th; the part later went to Betsy Palmer.[citation needed]

On television, Parsons played the recurring role of Beverly, on Roseanne. Other television credits include appearances in The Patty Duke Show, Love, American Style, All In The Family, Archie Bunker's Place, Open Admissions, Frasier, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Good Wife, as well as The UFO Incident: The Story of Betty and Barney Hill and the PBS production of June Moon.

She was honored with a Woman of Achievement Award from the Women's Project Theater in 2009.[6] Parsons recently[when?] appeared in London playing psychic Helga ten Dorp in Deathtrap at the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End. She was recently seen on Broadway in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People, and opened 24 April 2012, in Nice Work If You Can Get It.[7]



1963Ladybug LadybugJoAnn's Mother
1967Bonnie and ClydeBlancheAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress [8]
Laurel Award for Top Female Supporting Performance (2nd place)
1968Rachel, RachelCalla MackieLaurel Award for Top Female Supporting Performance
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress[8]
1969Don't Drink the WaterMarion Hollander
1970Watermelon ManAlthea GerberNominated-BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1970I Never Sang for My FatherAlice
1970I Walk the LineEllen Haney
1973Two PeopleBarbara Newman
1974For Pete's SakeHelen Robbins
1975Fore Play1st Lady/Barmaid
1989The Lemon SistersMrs. Kupchak
1990Dick TracyMrs. Trueheart
1990The Blue MenMay
1996Looking for RichardMargaret
1995Boys on the SideLouise
1997That Darn CatOld Lady McCracken


1954TodaySelfEpisode dated 6 September 1954
1963The DefendersMrs. MartinMetamorphosis
1964The DuPont Show of the WeekCarrie BerniceThe Gambling Heart
1964The Patty Duke ShowMrs. AppletonThe Con Artist
1965The Doctors and the NursesMrs. MeyersWhere There's Smoke
1966The Trials of O'BrienMiss BainesAlarums and Excursions
1968Snap JudgmentSelfEpisode dated 18 November 1968
1968Hemingway's Spain: A Love AffairSelf (voice only)
1968Kraft Music HallSelfEpisode #1.30
1968The 40th Annual Academy AwardsSelfOscar winner
1970The Front PageMollie Malloy
1970The David Frost ShowSelfEpisode #2.240
197125th Tony AwardsSelfNominee
1971Great PerformancesAgnesA Memory of Two Mondays
1972Love, American StyleBerniceLove and the Clinic/Love and the Perfect Wedding/Love and the President/Love and the Return of Raymond
1972Medical CenterBevWall of Silence
1973Terror on the BeachArlene Glynn
1974The Gun and the PulpitSadie Underwood
1974Great PerformancesLucilleJune Moon
1975The UFO IncidentBetty Hill
1976The Tenth LevelCrossland
1976NBC Special TreatEdwina KempBig Henry and the Polka Dot Kid
1976All in the FamilyDolores Mancheney FencelArchie's Secret Passion
1978All in the FamilyBlanche HefnerReunion on Hauser Street
1978All in the FamilyBlanche HefnerWeekend in the Country
1979Archie Bunker's PlaceBlanche HefnerBlanche and Murray
1979Backstairs at the White HouseBess TrumanFour episodes
1981The Gentleman BanditMarjorie Seebode
1981Guests of the NationKate O'Connell
1982TodaySelfEpisode dated 14 January 1982
1982American PlayhouseMabel Lederer/Angela MotormanCome Along with Me
1987American PlayhouseWaiting for the Moon (the producers wish to thank)
1988Open AdmissionsClare Block
1990Everyday HeroesMatty Jennings
1992A Private MatterMary ChessenNominated CableACE Award Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1993The American ClockOlder Doris
1993Family FeudSelfRoseanne vs. Jackie Thomas Sitcoms
1994Inside the Actors StudioSelf
1989-1997RoseanneBeverly Harris59 episodes as the mother of Roseanne and Jackie
Nominated for TV Land Award
1997Touched by an AngelJeannette FisherSandcastles
1998The Love LetterBeatrice Corrigan
1998The 70th Annual Academy AwardsSelf
1999Freak CityMrs. Stanapolous
2000BackstorySelfBonnie and Clyde
2001100 Center StreetEsther O'NeillThe Fix
2002Law & Order: Special Victims UnitRose RinatoDenial
2002The 56th Annual Tony AwardsSelf
2004FrasierCeleste's Mother (voice)
Herself (photograph)
Coots and Ladders
Goodnight, Seattle
2004Strip SearchRoberta Gray
2004Happy Birthday Oscar WildeSelf
2005Empire FallsBea
2012TodaySelfEpisode dated 13 January 2012

Personal life[edit]

Her grandson is Chicago Bears guard/tackle, Eben Britton. Her second husband Peter Zimroth was appointed police monitor for the NYPD in August 2013.[citation needed]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Arthur Penn
Artistic Director of the Actors Studio
Succeeded by
Vacant (2003-2004)
Stephen Lang
Carlin Glynn
Lee Grant