Mary Kay Place

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Mary Kay Place
Born (1947-09-23) September 23, 1947 (age 69)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Occupation Actress, singer, director, screenwriter
Years active 1973–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 one studio album for Columbia Records in the Haggers persona, which included the Top Ten country music hit "Baby Boy."

Early life and career[edit]

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 sang "If Communism Comes Knocking on Your Door, Don't Answer It." 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[edit]

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). 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. Aimin' to Please's "Something to Brag About," a duet with Willie Nelson, earned the pair a place on the music charts in 1977.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was one of the biggest cult television programs of all time.[citation needed] The show ended when Louise Lasser left the show in 1977, but the remaining cast stayed on for one more year to tape Forever Fernwood. The series ended with Loretta finding out Charlie was not sterile immediately before giving birth to quintuplets conceived by artificial insemination. 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.

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[edit]

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.

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.

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. 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.

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. 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 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.

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. 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."

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). Since 2006, she has also had a recurring role in HBO's Big Love, playing Adaleen Grant, the mother of the Chloë Sevigny character, Nicki.

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 Notes
1970 The Mary Tyler Moore Show TV series
1971 All in the Family TV series
1972 M*A*S*H TV series
1972 The New Temperatures Rising Show TV series
1973 The Cheerleaders TV film
1976 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman TV series
1976 Bound for Glory
1977 New York, New York
1977 Saturday Night Live TV series, guest host, episode 7: season 3
1978 Forever Fernwood TV series
1979 Captain Kangaroo TV series
1979 More American Graffiti
1979 Starting Over
1980 Act of Love TV film
1980 Private Benjamin
1981 Modern Problems
1982 Waltz Across Texas
1983 The Big Chill
1983 Terms of Endearment
1984 ABC Afterschool Special TV series, "Mom's on Strike" episode
1984 For Love or Money TV film
1985 The History of White People in America TV film
1986 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color TV series, under the title The Disney Sunday Movie
1985 Explorers uncredited
1985 Smooth Talk
1985 The Booth TV film
1986 The History of White People in America: Volume II TV film
1986 The Girl Who Spelled Freedom
1987 thirtysomething TV series
1988 Portrait of a White Marriage
1988 A New Life
1988 Baby Boom TV series, "Stress" episode
1989 Out on the Edge TV film
1990 Traitor in My House TV film
1990 Bright Angel
1991 Crazy from the Heart TV film
1992 Bed of Lies TV film
1992 Captain Ron
1992 Samantha
1992 Just My Imagination TV film
1993 Youth in Revolt
1993 Telling Secrets TV film
1993 Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City TV miniseries
1994 In the Line of Duty: The Price of Vengeance TV film
1994 Teresa's Tattoo
1994 My So-Called Life TV series
1994 Chicago Hope TV series
1994 Leslie's Folly TV short
1994 The Gift TV short
1995 Great Performances TV series
1996 Citizen Ruth
1996 My Very Best Friend TV film
1996 Manny & Lo
1996 For My Daughter's Honor TV film
1997 King of the Hill
1997 Eye of God
1997 Love in Another Town TV film
1997 The Rainmaker
1998 How to Make the Cruelest Month
1998 Naturally Native
1998 The Wild Thornberrys TV series
1998 Pecker
1998 Point Last Seen TV film
1999 Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story
1999 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit TV series
1999 The West Wing TV series
1999 Being John Malkovich
1999 Girl, Interrupted
2000 Committed
2001 Further Tales of the City TV miniseries
2001 Nailed
2001 The Safety of Objects
2001 Human Nature
2001 Leap Years TV series
2001 A Woman's a Helluva Thing TV film
2001 Undeclared TV series
2001 Citizen Baines TV series
2001 My First Mister
2002 Junk
2002 Sweet Home Alabama
2003 Nobody Knows Anything!
2003 Latter Days
2003 The Handler TV series
2004 Evergreen
2004 Killer Diller
2004 Silver City
2004 Jack & Bobby TV series
2005 Lonesome Jim
2005 Numb3rs TV series
2005 Grey's Anatomy TV series
2005 Nine Lives
2006 Big Love TV series
2006 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman TV series
2007 12 Miles of Bad Road TV series
2007 Saving Grace TV series
2007 Californication TV series
2007 Pushing Daisies TV series
2007 Grace Is Gone
2007 Mama's Boy
2008 The Mentalist
2008 The Life & Times of Tim TV series
2008 City of Ember
2009 The Toe Tactic
2009 War Eagle, Arkansas
2009 Julie & Julia
2009 Bored to Death TV series
2009 It's Complicated
2010 Shrek Forever After
2011 Suburgatory TV series
2012 Smashed
2012 The New Normal TV series
2013 A Country Christmas Story TV film
2013 Getting On TV series
2014 Looking TV series
2014 Rake TV series
2014 Last Weekend
2015 I'll See You in My Dreams
2015 The Breakup Girl
2015 Grace & Frankie TV series
2015 The Intern Voice role
2016 The Hollars
2016 Lady Dynamite TV series

Personal appearances[edit]





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


External links[edit]

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