Marsha Mason (born April 3, 1942) is an American actress and director. She was nominated four times for the Academy Award for Best Actress; for her performances in Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Goodbye Girl (1977), Chapter Two (1979), and Only When I Laugh (1981). The first two films also won her Golden Globe Awards. She was married for ten years (1973–83) to the playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon, who was the writer of three of her four Oscar nominated roles.
Mason's film debut was in the 1966 film Hot Rod Hullabaloo. 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 (1971–72) and received an Emmy Award nomination for her recurring role in the sitcom Frasier (1997–98).
She has also had an extensive career on stage, making her Broadway debut as a replacement in the comedy Cactus Flower in 1968. She starred in a 1999 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. Her other Broadway credits include The Night of the Iguana (1996), Steel Magnolias (2005), and Impressionism (2009).
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, grossed a modest $17.6 million at the box office. Despite a stellar cast led by Mason, Donald Sutherland, Jason Robards and Matthew Broderick, the film was a slow starter, becoming more popular after premiering on cable TV and VHS. 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.
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.
She appeared in Charles L. Mee's Wintertime at the Second Stage theatre in New York. In August 2005 Mason starred as Hecuba at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and on Broadway in 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.
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.
As of 2010 Mason plays Patricia Heaton's mother in ABC comedy series The Middle.
In April 2010, Mason co-starred with Keir Dullea and Matt Servitto in an Off-Broadway production of I Never Sang for My Father. For her performance as Margaret Garrison, Mason received good reviews.
Marsha Mason has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Mason was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Jacqueline Helena (Rakowski) and James Joseph Mason, a printer. 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 in Abiquiu that grew 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".
Mason is a staunch Democrat who has donated more than $4,000 to Democratic candidates.
|1968||Beyond the Law||Marcia Stillwell|
|1973||Blume in Love||Arlene|
|1973||Cinderella Liberty||Maggie Paul|
|1977||Audrey Rose||Janice Templeton|
|1977||Goodbye Girl, TheThe Goodbye Girl||Paula McFadden|
|1978||Cheap Detective, TheThe Cheap Detective||Georgia Merkle|
|1979||Promises in the Dark||Dr. Alexandra Kendall|
|1979||Chapter Two||Jennie MacLaine|
|1981||Only When I Laugh||Georgia Hines|
|1983||Max Dugan Returns||Nora McPhee|
|1991||Drop Dead Fred||Polly Cronin|
|1994||I Love Trouble||Sen. Gayle Robbins|
|1995||Nick of Time||Gov. Eleanor Grant|
|1996||2 Days in the Valley||Audrey Hopper|
|2004||Bride and Prejudice||Catherine Darcy|
|2013||Across Grace Alley||Grandmother||Short|
|1969||Dark Shadows||Audrey / Vampire Girl||"1.915"|
|1971||Where the Heart Is||Laura Blackburn||TV series|
|1971–72||Love of Life||Judith Cole||TV series|
|1972||Young Dr. Kildare||Nurse Lord||"I'm Handling It", "The Stranger"|
|1974||Great Performances||Roxane||"Cyrano de Bergerac"|
|1982||Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal||Lois Gibbs||TV film|
|1986||Trapped in Silence||Jennifer Hubbell||TV film|
|1988||Hothouse||Courtney Woods||"The Actress"|
|1989||Dinner at Eight||Millicent Jordan||TV film|
|1990||Image, TheThe Image||Jean Cromwell||TV film|
|1991–92||Sibs||Nora Ruscio||Main role|
|1992||Seinfeld||Jennie MacLaine (voice)||"The Letter"|
|1993||One Life to Live||Sabrina||1 episode|
|1995||Broken Trust||Ruth||TV film|
|1997–98||Frasier||Sherry Dempsey||Recurring role|
|1999||Restless Spirits||Lydia||TV film|
|2001||Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows||Ethel Gumm||TV miniseries|
|2002||Education of Max Bickford, TheThe Education of Max Bickford||Lilith Bigelow||"The Egg and I"|
|2004||Long Shot, TheThe Long Shot||Mary Lou O'Brian||TV film|
|2006||Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King||Aunt Trudy||"The Road Virus Heads North"|
|2008||Lipstick Jungle||Lorraine Lipman||"Carpe Threesome"|
|2008||Army Wives||Charlotte Meade||"Mothers & Wives", "Great Expectations"|
|2010–present||Middle, TheThe Middle||Pat Spence||Recurring role|
|2013||Untitled Bounty Hunter Project||Lucille Ryan||TV film|
|2015–16||Madam Secretary||Dr. Kinsey Sherman||"The Kill List", "Connection Lost"|
|2016||Good Wife, TheThe Good Wife||Judge Louisa Page||"Tracks"|
|2016||Grace and Frankie||Arlene||"The Test"|
Awards and nominations
|1974||Academy Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Cinderella Liberty||Nominated|
|1974||National Society of Film Critics||Best Actress||Cinderella Liberty||Nominated|
|1974||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama||Cinderella Liberty||Won|
|1978||Academy Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||The Goodbye Girl||Nominated|
|1978||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical||The Goodbye Girl||Won|
|1979||British Academy Film Awards||Best Actress||The Goodbye Girl||Nominated|
|1980||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama||Promises in the Dark||Nominated|
|1980||Academy Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Chapter Two||Nominated|
|1982||Academy Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Only When I Laugh||Nominated|
|1991||CableACE Award||Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries||The Image||Nominated|
|1997||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Frasier||Nominated|
|1997||Q Awards||Best Recurring Player||Frasier||Nominated|
|2001||Temecula Valley International Film Festival||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|
|2002||St. Louis International Film Festival||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|