Mary Kay Place

Mary Kay Place
Born (1947-09-23) September 23, 1947 (age 72)
OccupationActress, singer, director, screenwriter
Years active1973–present

Mary Kay Place (born September 23, 1947) is an American actress, singer, director, and screenwriter. She is known for portraying Loretta Haggers on the television series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, a role that won her the 1977 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series. Her numerous film appearances include Private Benjamin (1980), The Big Chill (1983), Captain Ron (1992) and Francis Ford Coppola's 1997 drama, The Rainmaker. Place also recorded three studio albums for Columbia Records, one in the Haggers persona, which included the Top Ten country music hit "Baby Boy."

Early life

Place was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the daughter of Gwendolyn Lucille (née Johnson) and Bradley Eugene Place.[1][2] She graduated from Nathan Hale High School and the University of Tulsa, where her father was an art professor;[3] she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and received a speech degree.


Place moved to Hollywood with aspirations of becoming an actress and writer. She was hired for The Tim Conway Comedy Hour in the 1970s as a production assistant to both Conway and producer Norman Lear. Conway gave her her first on-camera break, while Lear saw to it that Place received her first writing credit on his subsequent All in the Family. On the episode, she and actress Patty Weaver sang "If Communism Comes Knocking on Your Door, Don't Answer It."[4] She appeared in the third-season episode of M*A*S*H titled "Springtime", for which she also received writing credits.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and musical career

Lear then cast her in the role of would-be country and western star Loretta Haggers on the satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976–1977).[4][5] She won an Emmy Award for her work as Loretta, and was later nominated for a Grammy Award for her spin-off musical album Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers. Place wrote two of the songs on Tonite!: "Vitamin L" and "Baby Boy," both of which she sang on the program as Loretta.

Both Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers and its follow up Aimin' To Please featured A-list country and pop performers from the 1970s. Dolly Parton, on whom the Loretta character was loosely based, provided backing vocals as well as the song "All I Can Do" (which Parton also wrote). Emmylou Harris, Anne Murray and Nicolette Larson sang backup as well.[4] Aimin' to Please's "Something to Brag About," a duet with Willie Nelson, earned the pair a place on the music charts in 1977.[4]

While working on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Place also wrote scripts for several TV situation comedies, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Phyllis and M*A*S*H, usually in collaboration with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (who would later create Designing Women). She appeared in the M*A*S*H episode "Springtime," which she co-wrote with Bloodworth. She also made an appearance in the sitcom All in the Family in the episode "Archie Goes Too Far" as Betty Sue.[5]

Place hosted Saturday Night Live in 1977 and was one of the few hosts who also appeared as the musical guest (with Willie Nelson on the duet "Something to Brag About").

Late 1970s through 1990s

Place, accompanied on sax by a character played by Robert De Niro, sings Blue Moon in the 1977 musical drama New York, New York, directed by Martin Scorsese.

In the 1979 Burt Reynolds romantic comedy, Starting Over, Place plays the first woman Reynolds dates after a divorce.[5]

In 1983, Place had a key role in the Lawrence Kasdan ensemble piece The Big Chill as Meg, a single corporate attorney who wishes to be impregnated with her first child by one of her past college friends.[4]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the actress appeared in a number of television movies and a starring role in the 1992 Kurt Russell and Martin Short comedy Captain Ron.[5] 1994 saw her return to television in the recurring role of Camille Cherski on My So-Called Life. In 1996, Place comically portrayed an evangelistic pro-life activist in Alexander Payne's debut feature film Citizen Ruth. She had a strong dramatic role as Dot Black, mother of a terminally ill young man, in Francis Ford Coppola's version of John Grisham's The Rainmaker in 1997.[4]

Place was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her work in the 1996 film Manny & Lo. She plays the matronly Elaine, who would love to have a child and works in a maternity shop, but never married and is past her child-bearing years.

She directed episodes of the HBO sitcom Dream On, NBC's Friends and the series Baby Boom. She provided at least two voices for Fox's animated show King of the Hill in an episode in which Peggy Hill competes in the Mrs. Heimlich County Pageant. She voiced both a competitor and the coordinator of the pageant.

Place appeared in Being John Malkovich as the receptionist with a reception problem, Floris, and in Girl, Interrupted.[5] While not in any scenes together, this marked the third time that Mary Kay had done a film with one of her former My So-Called Life co-stars: first with Claire Danes in The Rainmaker, second with Bess Armstrong in Pecker, then with Jared Leto in Interrupted.


In 2000, the actress co-directed Don Henley's video for "Taking You Home". She had a small role in her second Lisa Krueger movie, Committed.

She played the United States Surgeon General in a 2001 episode of NBC's The West Wing. The character returned in the 2004 season.[5]

In the original PBS mini-series Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, Place had a self-referential moment as a Maupin character during the Mary Hartman era in which the series is set.[5] Laura Linney's character often watched Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Showtime picked up the Tales franchise, but Place was not in the second installment. She did have a role in the third mini-series, Further Tales of the City (2001), which featured her in the role of "Prue Giroux."[4]

In 2002, Place had a sizable role in the Reese Witherspoon movie Sweet Home Alabama as Witherspoon's character's mother, Pearl Smooter. That same year she was in Human Nature starring Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette and A Woman's a Helluva Thing with Penelope Ann Miller as well as with Albert Brooks in the dark comedy My First Mister. The story focuses on a developing relationship between an isolated, rebellious 18-year-old (Leelee Sobieski) and an engaging older man (Brooks). Place played Brooks' best friend. The film marked the directorial debut of actress Christine Lahti.

Place played a Mormon mother in the film Latter Days (2003). From 2006 to 2011, she had a recurring role in HBO's Big Love, playing Adaleen Grant, the mother of the Chloë Sevigny character, Nicki.[4][5]

Lily Tomlin and Place did the pilot and 5 episodes of 12 Miles of Bad Road from Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who wrote television scripts with Place in the 1970s. HBO chose not to air the series, and producers were seeking other networks to air it.

In 2009, she served as the voice of Julie Powell's mother in the film Julie & Julia.

She recently joined the cast of HBO's comedy Bored to Death. In 2013, she appeared as Bryan's mother on The New Normal.

In 2015, she provided the voice of Anne Hathaway's mother in The Intern.

She plays Maria Bamford's mother in the Netflix series Lady Dynamite.



Year Title Role Notes
1976 Bound for Glory Sue Ann
1977 New York, New York Bernice Bennett
1979 More American Graffiti Teensa
1979 Starting Over Marie
1980 Private Benjamin Pvt. Mary Lou Glass
1981 Modern Problems Lorraine
1982 Waltz Across Texas Kit Peabody
1983 The Big Chill Meg Jones
1983 Terms of Endearment Doris (voice)
1985 Smooth Talk Katherine
1988 A New Life Donna
1990 Bright Angel Judy
1991 Samantha Marilyn
1992 Captain Ron Katherine Harvey
1994 Teresa's Tattoo Nora
1996 Citizen Ruth Gail Stoney
1996 Manny & Lo Elaine
1997 Eye of God Claire Spencer
1997 The Rainmaker Dot Black
1998 Naturally Native Madame Celeste
1998 How to Make the Cruelest Month Mary Bryant
1998 Pecker Joyce
1999 Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story Jan Martinez
1999 Being John Malkovich Floris
1999 Girl, Interrupted Barbara Gilcrest
2001 My First Mister Patty
2001 Nailed Fern Romano
2001 The Safety of Objects Helen Christianson
2002 Sweet Home Alabama Pearl Smooter
2003 Latter Days Sister Gladys Davis
2004 Evergreen Susan
2004 Killer Diller Dr. Gwen Bradley
2004 Silver City Grace Seymour
2005 Lonesome Jim Sally
2005 Nine Lives Dr. Alma Wyatt
2007 War Eagle, Arkansas Jessie
2007 Mama's Boy Barbara
2008 City of Ember Mrs. Murdo
2009 It's Complicated Joanne
2010 Leonie Albiana Gilmour
2012 Smashed Rochelle
2013 Bad Milo! Beatrice
2013 You're in Charge Penny Guidry
2014 Miss Meadows Mrs. Davenport
2014 Last Weekend Jeannie
2015 I'll See You in My Dreams Rona
2015 The Breakup Girl Joan Baker
2016 The Hollars Pam
2016 Youth in Oregon Estelle Engersol
2017 Downsizing Land's End Customer
2018 State Like Sleep Elaine
2018 Diane Diane


Year Title Role Notes
1973 All in the Family Betty Sue "Archie Goes Too Far"
1974 M*A*S*H Lt. Louise Simmons "Springtime"
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Sally Jo Hotchkiss "Murray in Love"
1976 The Cheerleaders Margie TV film
1976–77 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Loretta Haggers Main role
1977 Forever Fernwood Loretta Haggers TV series
1980 Act of Love Becky Wiggins TV film
1984 ABC Afterschool Special Ellie Skinner "Mom's on Strike"
1984 For Love or Money K.K TV film
1985 The History of White People in America Joyce Harrison TV film
1986 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Prissy Thrash "The Girl Who Spelled Freedom"
1986 The History of White People in America: Volume II Joyce Harrison TV film
1988 Portrait of a White Marriage Joyce Harrison
1989 Out on the Edge Sondra Evetts TV film
1990 Thirtysomething Patsy Klein "Happy New Year"
1990 Traitor in My House Elizabeth Van Lew TV film
1991 Crazy from the Heart Merrilee Playton TV film
1992 Bed of Lies Jean Daniel Murph TV film
1992 Just My Imagination Shilda Hawk TV film
1993 Telling Secrets Shelley Jefferson Carp TV film
1993 Tales of the City Prue Giroux TV miniseries
1994 In the Line of Duty: The Price of Vengeance Norma Williams TV film
1994–95 My So-Called Life Camille Cherski Recurring role
1995 Chicago Hope Joanna Kenneally "Freeze Outs"
1996 My Very Best Friend Molly Butler TV film
1996 For My Daughter's Honor Betty Ann Dustin TV film
1997 Love in Another Town Sam TV film
1998 Point Last Seen Coreen Davis TV film
1998–2009 King of the Hill Various (voice) 3 episodes
2000 The Wild Thornberrys Nancy Tucker (voice) "Birthday Quake"
2001 Further Tales of the City Prue Giroux TV miniseries
2001 A Woman's a Helluva Thing Cecilia Piloski TV film
2001 Citizen Baines Francesca Dunlop "The Appraisal"
2001–04 The West Wing Surgeon General Millicent Griffith "Ellie", "In the Room", "Impact Winter"
2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Hope Garrett "Vulnerable"
2004 The Handler Naomi Prince "Acts of Congress"
2005 Jack & Bobby Rev. Rindhart "A Child of God"
2006 Numb3rs Hester Stirling "Protest"
2006–18 Grey's Anatomy Olive Warner 3 episodes
2006–11 Big Love Adaleen Grant Regular role
2007 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman Jeanette "We're Number Two!", "The Carolina Moonshiners"
2008 12 Miles of Bad Road C.Z. Shakespeare Main role
2008 Saving Grace Dorothy Edwina Talbert "It's Better When I Can See You"
2008 Pushing Daisies Annabelle Vandersloop "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy"
2010 Bored to Death Kathryn Joiner Recurring role
2012 The Life & Times of Tim Dorothy (voice) "Action Packed Heist/Fall Foliage"
2013 Suburgatory Gam Gam "Blowtox and Burlap"
2013 The New Normal Colleen "The Big Day", "Finding Name-O"
2013 A Country Christmas Story Sarah TV film
2013 Holidaze Elaine Gerard TV film
2014 Rake Judge Cunningham "Jury Tamperer"
2014–15 Getting On Dr. Ann Killigrew Recurring role
2015 Looking Sarah "Looking for a Plot"
2015 Ellen More or Less Virginia TV film
2015–16 Grace and Frankie Amanda "The End", "The Credit Cards", "The Chicken"
2016–17 Lady Dynamite Marilyn Bamford Main role
2017 Black-ish Doctor Harris "Good Dre Hunting"
2017–18 Imposters Marsha Bloom 6 episodes
2018 The Romanoffs Marilyn Hopkins Episode: "Expectation"

As director or writer

Year Title Notes
1973 The Shape of Things Writer, TV special
1973–74 M*A*S*H Writer, "Hot Lips and Empty Arms", "Springtime", "Mad Dogs and Servicemen"
1974 Paper Moon Writer, "Gimme That Old Time Relation"
1974 Friends and Lovers Writer, "The Groupie"
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Writer, "Mary's Delinquent"
1975 Phyllis Writer, "So Lonely I Could Cry"
1988 Baby Boom Director, "Stress"
1994 Dream On Director, "Where There's Smoke, You're Fired", "Those Who Can't, Edit"
1995 Friends Director, "The One with the List"
1996 Dream On Director, "Tenants, Anyone?"
1996 Arliss Director, "The Company You Keep"
2007 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman Director, "Straight up Your Heart", "Good Times and Great Oldies"



Year Album US Country Label
1976 Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers 6 Columbia
1977 Aimin' to Please 40 Columbia
2011 Almost Grown Wounded Bird/Sony

Note: Both of Place's albums just missed charting on the general pop Billboard Hot 200 chart, her 1976 bubbled under in the ten runnerup slots at #202 and the 1977 at #203.


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US CAN Country
1976 "Baby Boy" 3 60 6 Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers
(credited to "Mary Kay Place as Loretta Haggers")
1977 "Vitamin L" 72
"Something to Brag About" (with Willie Nelson) 9 15 Aimin' to Please


  1. ^ "Mary Kay Place Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  2. ^ http://marykayplacefan.yolasite.com/mkp-book-contributions.php
  3. ^ Michael Smith, Tulsa actress can't quit working, Tulsa World, October 13, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mary Kay Place". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mary Kay Place". TVGuide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved September 30, 2019.

External links

Preceded by
Buck Henry
Saturday Night Live Host
December 10, 1977
Succeeded by
Miskel Spillman

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