Marsha Mason

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Marsha Mason
Marsha Mason 2010.jpg
Mason in 2010
Born(1942-04-03) April 3, 1942 (age 72)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
OccupationActress, Director
Years active1966–present
Spouse(s)Gary Campbell
Neil Simon
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Marsha Mason
Marsha Mason 2010.jpg
Mason in 2010
Born(1942-04-03) April 3, 1942 (age 72)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
OccupationActress, Director
Years active1966–present
Spouse(s)Gary Campbell
Neil Simon

Marsha Mason (born April 3, 1942) is an American actress and director. She is a four-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Golden Globe Award winner.

Mason's first film role was in Hot Rod Hullabaloo in 1966. She received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actress for her performances in Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Goodbye Girl (1977), Chapter Two (1978) and Only When I Laugh (1981). Her other films include, Blume in Love (1973), The Cheap Detective (1978), Max Dugan Returns (1983) Heartbreak Ridge (1986), Stella (1990) and Drop Dead Fred (1991). On television, she appeared in the soap opera Love of Life (1971-1972) and received an Emmy nomination for her recurring role in the sitcom Frasier (1997-1998).

She has also had an extensive career on stage, making her Broadway debut as a replacement in the comedy Cactus Flower in 1968. Other Broadway credits include, The Night of the Iguana (1996), Impressionism (2005) and Steel Magnolias (2009). In 1999, she starred in a revival of The Prisoner of Second Avenue in London, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album for the 2000 recording. In 2006, she starred in the American premier production of Hecuba at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

She was married for ten years (1973-1983) to the playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon, who was the writer of three of her Oscar nominated roles.

Personal life[edit]

Mason was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to James Joseph Mason, a printer,[1] and his wife Jacqueline. She and her younger sister, Linda (b. 1943), were raised Catholic and grew up in Crestwood. Mason is a graduate of Nerinx Hall High School and Webster University, both in Webster Groves. She raced a Mazda RX-3 in SCCA events.

A resident of New Mexico, she had a farm[2] in Abiquiu that grows certified organic herbs. In the late 1990s, Mason sold herbs wholesale to companies both locally and regionally before starting a line of wellness and bath and body products called "Resting in the River".


Marsha Mason has had a distinguished career in film and theater. Neil Simon cast her in his Broadway play The Good Doctor in 1973. Shortly afterwards, Mason and Simon, a widower, fell in love and got married. That same year, Mason co-starred opposite James Caan in the 20th Century Fox film Cinderella Liberty, which netted her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In 1977, Mason's performance in Simon's smash hit film, The Goodbye Girl, won her a second Best Actress Academy Award nomination. In 1979, Simon successfully cast Mason as Jennie MacLaine in the screen adaptation of his hit play Chapter Two, which was based on Mason's relationship with Simon up to their marriage. The film proved to be another big hit, garnering her a third Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

In 1981, Mason starred along with Kristy McNichol, James Coco, and Joan Hackett, in Only When I Laugh, Simon's film adaptation of his Broadway comedy-drama The Gingerbread Lady; it was another box-office success. For her performance as Georgia Hines, Mason was highly praised and earned a fourth Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Mason's Max Dugan Returns (1983), also written by Simon, was disappointing. Despite a stellar cast led by Mason, Donald Sutherland, Jason Robards and Matthew Broderick, Simon's script was a letdown and the film failed at the box office. By this time, Mason and Simon had divorced, and her film career lost momentum. She co-starred with Clint Eastwood in the 1986 film Heartbreak Ridge, which was fairly well received and a commercial success.

Mason played in a New York production of Harold Pinter's Old Times. She next directed the play Juno's Swans (1986), by E. Katherine Kerr, at the Second Stage Theatre in Los Angeles.[3]

Her stage credits include Norman Mailer's The Deer Park, Israel Horovitz's The Indian Wants the Bronx, Neil Simon's The Good Doctor and King Richard III at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Mason starred on Broadway in a revival of Night of the Iguana in 1996, and the following year in Michael Cristofer's Amazing Grace. Mason reunited with Goodbye Girl co-star Richard Dreyfuss and writer Neil Simon in Duncan Weldon and Emanuel Azenberg's production of The Prisoner of Second Avenue in 1999, which was performed at the L.A. Theatre Works shortly after a revival in London's West End. She earned a Grammy nomination in comedy.[4]

She appeared in Charles L. Mee’' Wintertime at the Second Stage theatre in New York. In August 2005 Mason starred as Hecuba at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and on Broadway Steel Magnolias, with Delta Burke, Frances Sternhagen, Rebecca Gayheart, Lily Rabe and Christine Ebersole. She appeared in A Feminine Ending at Playwrights Horizons, and in the Shakespeare Theater Company's performance of "All's Well That Ends Well" in Washington, D.C.[5]

Mason's recent television work includes guest roles on Seinfeld, Lipstick Jungle, and Army Wives. Mason starred in her own series, Sibs, which ran from 1991-92. In 1997 and 1998, she had a recurring role on the TV show Frasier as Sherry Dempsey. In February 2010, she co-starred in California Suite at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.[6]

As of 2010 Mason plays Patricia Heaton's mother in ABC comedy series The Middle.[7]

In April 2010, Mason co-starred with Keir Dullea and Matt Servitto in an Off-Broadway production of I Never Sang for My Father.[8] For her performance as Margaret Garrison, Mason received good reviews.[9][10]

Marsha Mason has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[11]


1966Hot Rod HullabalooMarcia Hamden
1968Beyond the LawMarcia Stillwell
1969Dark ShadowsAudrey
Where the Heart IsLaura Blackburn
1971–1972Love of LifeJudith Cole
1972Cyrano de BergeracRoxaneTV movie
Young Dr. KildareNurse Marsha Lord2 episodes
1973Blume in LoveArlene
Cinderella LibertyMaggie PaulGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
1977Audrey RoseJanice Templeton
The Goodbye GirlPaula McFaddenGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1978The Cheap DetectiveGeorgia Merkle
The Good DoctorVarious rolesTV movie
1979Promises in the DarkDr. Alexandra KendallNominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Chapter TwoJennie MacLaineNominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1981Only When I LaughGeorgia HinesNominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
1982Lois Gibbs and the Love CanalLois GibbsTV movie
1983Max Dugan ReturnsNora McPhee
1985Surviving: A Family in CrisisLoisTV movie
1986Trapped in SilenceJennifer HubbellTV movie
Heartbreak RidgeAggie
1989Dinner at EightMillicent JordanTV movie
1990The ImageJean CromwellTV movie
StellaJanice Morrison
1991Drop Dead FredPolly Cronin
SibsNora RuscioTV movie
1993One Life to LiveSabrinaEpisode dated 1 December 1993
1994I Love TroubleSenator Gayle Robbins
1995Broken TrustRuthTV movie
Nick of TimeGovernor Eleanor Grant
19962 Days in the ValleyAudrey Hopper
1997–1998FrasierSherry Dempsey6 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Comedy Series
1999Dead AviatorsLydiaTV movie
2001Life with Judy Garland: Me and My ShadowsEthel GummTV movie
2002The Education of Max BickfordLilith BigelowEpisode "The Egg and I"
2004The Long ShotMary Lou O'BrianTV movie
Bride & PrejudiceCatherine Darcy
BereftHelenTV movie
2006Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen KingAunt TrudyEpisode "The Road Virus Heads North"
2008Lipstick JungleEpisode "Chapter Seven: Carpe Threesome"
Army WivesCharlotte Meade2 episodes
2010-2013The MiddlePat Spence7 episodes


  1. ^ Chambers, Andrea. "Goodbye Girl Marsha Mason Bids Farewell to Neil Simon and Sets Out on a Career as a Director". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  2. ^ See the article, "Marsha Mason's Organic Farm and Estate."
  3. ^ "Marsha Mason Finds Joy In The Work Ethic", The Los Angeles Times, Roderick Mann, February 16, 1986
  4. ^ "Marsha Mason". TheaterTimes. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  5. ^ Mason Stars In ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL At Shakespeare Theatre Co. July 27, 2010.
  6. ^ "Actress Marsha Mason on Neil Simon, young actors, state of theater", KPCC, February 17, 2010
  7. ^ Jacqueline Cutler (April 28, 2010). "Marsha Mason in 'The Middle': Goodbye girl's a grandma". Zap2It. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  8. ^ "Up Close With Keir Dullea and Marsha Mason". The New York Times. February 18, 2010. 
  9. ^ Ken Jaworowski (April 6, 2010). "That Old Equation: Dad + Son = Clash". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". Retrieved 25 April 2013. 

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