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|Born||Mary Claire Kennedy
September 25, 1948
Rochester, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Larry Dilg (May 27, 1978–present); 2 children|
Kennedy was born Mary Claire Kennedy in Rochester, New York, the daughter of Nancy Helen (née Colgan) and Daniel Gerald Kennedy. She got her start in theater with the Rochester Community Players, appearing in Agatha Christie's Spider Web in October 1960 when she was 12 years old. She was raised in Rochester, where she graduated in 1966 from Our Lady of Mercy High School. In the 1970s she was in a musical production, Rhinegold, featuring songs by her friend Jim Steinman.
Kennedy made her television debut as a contestant on To Tell The Truth, courtesy of an introduction to the producers made by her cousin-by-marriage, All My Children star Ruth Warrick. She played a Goucher student who'd taken a course in auto mechanics; and she was caught up short knowing nothing about auto mechanics, though she was asked a leading question by Peggy Cass that prompted what the producers must have known, via the "prep session" would elicit an answer that was a sure laugh: she had to discuss repairing a toaster by applying wires to the "terminal screw."
She followed this with a television commercial for Peppermint Patties, and then for Cascade, in which she played one of the first working women arriving home to see her husband had used dishwasher soap that left spots on glasses; the spot was titled "Honey, I'm Home." She later was on the short-lived NBC television variety series 3 Girls 3, with Debbie Allen and Ellen Foley. Her next series role was as Stockard Channing's sister, character name Victoria, for the first season of the short-lived series, Just Friends. Her most notable television roles, however, were as Dharma's mother, Abby O'Neil, on the series Dharma & Greg and as Ruth Sloan on Homefront.
She appeared in the Broadway and road companies of the show Grease. In 2009, she was seen at Pasadena Playhouse and the Cleveland Play House as the newspaper advice columnist Ann Landers in David Rambo's play The Lady with All the Answers.
In 2013 she joined the cast of Mom playing Marjorie, the twelve-step sponsor of the lead characters.
Activism and political involvement
Kennedy is involved in several progressive activist causes, including Progressive Democrats of America for which she serves as Chairperson of the Board. Her mid-life memoir, Taken To The Stage: The Education of an Actress, was published by Smith&Kraus in 1996 with praise from advice columnist Abigail "Dear Abby" Van Buren and playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who called it "one of the great theatrical memoirs."
Kennedy is a signatory to the 9/11 Truth Statement. She was a charter member of Artists United to Win Without War and a leading supporter of Dennis Kucinich’s anti-war presidential campaign in 2004. Kennedy has worked on human rights, environmental and labour issues.
Kennedy and her husband, Larry Dilg, were matched by the first known computer dating program "Operation Match" in 1966. They wed in 1978 and have two children.
- Chances Are (1989) .... Sally
- Immediate Family (1989) .... Eli's Mom
- Pump Up the Volume (1990) .... Marla Hunter
- Death Becomes Her (1992) .... Woman #2
- Flashfire (1993) .... Kate Cantrell
- Reasons of the Heart (1996) .... Celia Barton
- Buddy (1997) .... Mrs. Bunny Bowman
- Erin Brockovich (2000) .... Laura Ambrosino
- In The Loop (2009) .... Karen Clark
- The Three Gifts (2009) .... Rita Green
- Due Date (2010) ... Sarah's mom
- Midnight in Paris (2011) .... Helen
- The Five-Year Engagement (2012) .... Carol Solomon
- Expecting (2013) .... Dr. Grayson
- Knots Landing (1979) TV Series (story editor)
Awards and nominations
|2014||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series||Mom||Nominated|