||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
Parsons in a Love, American Style episode in 1973.
|Born||Estelle Margaret Parsons
November 20, 1927
Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Richard Gehman (1953–1958; divorced; 2 children)
Peter Zimroth (1983–present; 1 child)
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).
Parsons worked extensively in film and theatre during the 1970s and later directed several Broadway productions. More recently her television work included a role in the sitcom Roseanne. Nominated on four occasions for a Tony Award, in 2004 Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
Parsons was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, in the Lynn Hospital. Her mother, Elinor Ingeborg (née Mattsson), was a native of Sweden, and her father, Eben Parsons, was of English descent. She attended the 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.
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).
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 Weill – Brecht 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. 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 by Tracy Letts. She continued playing the role during the show's national tour beginning July 24, 2009, in Denver.
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.
Her 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 also received a BAFTA Award nomination for her role in Watermelon Man (1970), and appeared in I Never Sang for My Father (1971), Two People (1973), A Memory of Two Mondays (1974), For Pete's Sake (1975), 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.
On television, Parsons played the part of Roseanne and Jackie's pretentious mother, Beverly, on the 1988–1997 sitcom Roseanne. Her other television credits include appearances in The Patty Duke Show, All In The Family, Archie Bunker's Place, Open Admissions, Frasier, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the TV-movie The UFO Incident: The Story of Betty and Barney Hill (opposite James Earl Jones), and the PBS production of June Moon.
In 2004, Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
|1963||Ladybug Ladybug||JoAnn's Mother|
|1967||Bonnie and Clyde||Blanche||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress 
Laurel Award for Top Female Supporting Performance (2nd place)
|1968||Rachel, Rachel||Calla Mackie||Laurel Award for Top Female Supporting Performance
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
|1969||Don't Drink the Water||Marion Hollander|
|1970||Watermelon Man||Althea Gerber||Nominated-BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role|
|1970||I Never Sang for My Father||Alice|
|1970||I Walk the Line||Ellen Haney|
|1973||Two People||Barbara Newman|
|1974||For Pete's Sake||Helen Robbins|
|1975||Fore Play||1st Lady/Barmaid|
|1989||The Lemon Sisters||Mrs. Kupchak|
|1990||Dick Tracy||Mrs. Trueheart|
|1990||The Blue Men||May|
|1996||Looking for Richard||Margaret|
|1995||Boys on the Side||Louise|
|1997||That Darn Cat||Old Lady McCracken|
|1954||Today||Self||Episode dated 6 September 1954|
|1963||The Defenders||Mrs. Martin||Metamorphosis|
|1964||The DuPont Show of the Week||Carrie Bernice||The Gambling Heart|
|1964||The Patty Duke Show||Mrs. Appleton||The Con Artist|
|1965||The Doctors and the Nurses||Mrs. Meyers||Where There's Smoke|
|1966||The Trials of O'Brien||Miss Baines||Alarums and Excursions|
|1968||Snap Judgment||Self||Episode dated 18 November 1968|
|1968||Hemingway's Spain: A Love Affair||Self (voice only)|
|1968||Kraft Music Hall||Self||Episode #1.30|
|1968||The 40th Annual Academy Awards||Self||Oscar winner|
|1970||The Front Page||Mollie Malloy|
|1970||The David Frost Show||Self||Episode #2.240|
|1971||25th Tony Awards||Self||Nominee|
|1971||Great Performances||Agnes||A Memory of Two Mondays|
|1972||Love, American Style||Bernice||Love and the Clinic/Love and the Perfect Wedding/Love and the President/Love and the Return of Raymond|
|1972||Medical Center||Bev||Wall of Silence|
|1973||Terror on the Beach||Arlene Glynn|
|1974||The Gun and the Pulpit||Sadie Underwood|
|1974||Great Performances||Lucille||June Moon|
|1975||The UFO Incident||Betty Hill|
|1976||The Tenth Level||Crossland|
|1976||NBC Special Treat||Edwina Kemp||Big Henry and the Polka Dot Kid|
|1976||All in the Family||Dolores Mancheney Fencel||Archie's Secret Passion|
|1978||All in the Family||Blanche Hefner||Reunion on Hauser Street|
|1978||All in the Family||Blanche Hefner||Weekend in the Country|
|1979||Archie Bunker's Place||Blanche Hefner||Blanche and Murray|
|1979||Backstairs at the White House||Bess Truman||Four episodes|
|1981||The Gentleman Bandit||Marjorie Seebode|
|1981||Guests of the Nation||Kate O'Connell|
|1982||Today||Self||Episode dated 14 January 1982|
|1982||American Playhouse||Mabel Lederer/Angela Motorman||Come Along with Me|
|1987||American Playhouse||Waiting for the Moon (the producers wish to thank)|
|1988||Open Admissions||Clare Block|
|1990||Everyday Heroes||Matty Jennings|
|1992||A Private Matter||Mary Chessen||Nominated CableACE Award Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries|
|1993||The American Clock||Older Doris|
|1993||Family Feud||Self||Roseanne vs. Jackie Thomas Sitcoms|
|1994||Inside the Actors Studio||Self|
|1989-1997||Roseanne||Beverly Harris||59 episodes as the mother of Roseanne and Jackie
Nominated for TV Land Award
|1997||Touched by an Angel||Jeannette Fisher||Sandcastles|
|1998||The Love Letter||Beatrice Corrigan|
|1998||The 70th Annual Academy Awards||Self|
|1999||Freak City||Mrs. Stanapolous|
|2000||Backstory||Self||Bonnie and Clyde|
|2001||100 Center Street||Esther O'Neill||The Fix|
|2002||Law and Order: Special Victims Unit||Rose Rinato||Denial|
|2002||The 56th Annual Tony Awards||Self|
|2004||Frasier||Opal||Coots and Ladders|
|2004||Strip Search||Roberta Gray|
|2004||Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde||Self|
|2012||Today||Self||Episode dated 13 January 2012|
- Estelle Parsons at the Internet Movie Database
- Estelle Parsons at the Internet Broadway Database
- Estelle Parsons at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Estelle Parsons at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection
|Artistic Director of the Actors Studio