This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libelous.Find sources: "Frances Lee McCain" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Frances Lee McCain
McCain in 1977
Other namesLee McCain
Years active1969–present
SpouseMark Wheeler

Frances Lee McCain is an American actress.

Early life and education

McCain was born in York, Pennsylvania and grew up in New York, Illinois and Colorado in addition to California.[1] She graduated from Ripon College with a BA in Philosophy and then studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.[2] She completed a master's degree in psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2000.

Acting career

She returned to New York City where she appeared on Broadway in Woody Allen's Play it Again Sam, and off-Broadway in Lanford Wilson's Lemon Sky, creating the role of Carol.[3] She joined the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco under William Ball and played a variety of roles in repertory.

Apple's Way TV show (1974–1975) and other 1970s work

She began her career in film and television after appearing opposite Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway in A Streetcar Named Desire, eventually co-starring with Ronny Cox as the female lead in the television series, CBS-TV's Apple's Way in 1974. She appeared in a variety of television series and miniseries throughout the 1970s, including Washington: Behind Closed Doors and the Quincy ME episode Eye Of The Needle playing a Holistic practitioner, and in "The Rockford Files" 1978 episode "The Prisoner of Rosemont Hall." In 1979, she appeared in Real Life. In 1979, she appeared on ABC in the television series 13 Queens Boulevard.

1980s acting work

In the 1980s, she was cast in several major films, usually playing the mother of a main character. In 1984, she co-starred in the film Gremlins as Lynn Peltzer, the mother of main character, Billy Peltzer. Also that year, she played Ethel McCormack, mother to Kevin Bacon's character, in Footloose. In 1985 she appeared in the film Back to the Future as Stella Baines, the mother of Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson). In 1986, she played Mrs. Lachance, the mother of Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton), in the drama film Stand by Me.

Later work

McCain continued to work in television after relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1980s and also appeared in Scream (1996), as the mother of Rose McGowan and David Arquette's characters, and Patch Adams (1998).

She earned a master's degree in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2000, and continued to work in Theater extensively in the San Francisco Area until her relocation to Albuquerque, NM, in 2010. [citation needed]

In 2004, McCain initiated a theater project based on oral histories of the blue-collar workers responsible for the building and maintaining of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico which received workshop readings at the Lensic Center for Performing Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

She is an Associate Artist of the ZSpace Studio in San Francisco, and is an ensemble member of the AlterTheater Ensemble in San Rafael, California.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Laughing Policeman Prostitute
1973 The Mod Squad Alice Episode: "And Once for My Baby"
1973 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Gina Episode: "The Second Victim"
1974 The New Perry Mason Laurie Haden Episode: "The Case of the Violent Valley"
1974 to 1975 Apple's Way Barbara Apple Series regular; 28 episodes
1975 Doctors' Hospital Annie Robaire Episode: "But Who Will Bless Thy Daughter Norah?"
1975 The Bob Newhart Show Janet Episode: "A Matter of Vice-Principal"
1976 Visions Jenny Episode: "The War Widow"
1978 The Rockford Files Leslie Callahan Episode: "The Prisoner of Rosemont Hall"
1979 Real Life Jeanette Yeager
1981 Honky Tonk Freeway Claire Calo
1982 Tex Mrs. Johnson
1984 Footloose Ethel McCormack
1984 Gremlins Lynn Peltzer [4]
1985 The Rape of Richard Beck Caroline Beck TV movie
1985 Back to the Future Stella Baines
1986 Murder in Three Acts Miss Milray
1986 Stand by Me Mrs. Lachance
1988 It Takes Two Joyce Rogers
1990 The Lookalike Dr. Stamos TV movie[4]
1996 Scream Mrs. Riley [4]
1998 Patch Adams Judy
1999 True Crime Mrs. Lowenstein
2018 Ideal Home Doris
2019 Dreamland Teller
2020 The Comeback Trail Marge (Old Actress)
2022 End of the Road Val


  1. ^ "Frances Lee McCain Pics". Frances Lee McCain Photo Gallery – 2019 – Magazine Pictorials. Movie Stills. Event Photos. Red Carpet Pictures. AllStarPics.Net. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Frances Lee McCain '66 dishes about theatrical success". Ripon College. January 1, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  3. ^ Berson, Misha (September 16, 1990). "LMTC Brings Back '70s Flop Play No "Lemon' After All: Frances Lee McCain returns to lead revived Wilson work". San Francisco Chronicle. p. 22.
  4. ^ a b c Young, R. G. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-1-55783-269-6.