Mary Kay Place
Born (1947-09-23) September 23, 1947 (age 75)
Alma materUniversity of Tulsa
  • Actress
  • singer
  • director
  • screenwriter
Years active1973–present

Mary Kay Place (born September 23, 1947)[1] is an American actress. She is best 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 three studio albums for Columbia Records, one in the Haggers persona, which included the Top Ten country music hit "Baby Boy". For her performance in Diane (2018), Place won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress[2] and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress.[3]

Early life

Place was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the daughter of Gwendolyn Lucille (née Johnson) and Bradley Eugene Place.[4] She graduated from Nathan Hale High School and the University of Tulsa, where her father was an art professor;[5] she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority[6] 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 Place 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 and actress Patty Weaver sang "If Communism Comes Knocking on Your Door, Don't Answer It."[7] 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

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).[7][8] She won an Emmy Award for her work as Loretta, and was nominated in 1977 for a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female for the associated music album Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers.[9] Place wrote two of the songs on Tonite!: "Vitamin L" and "Baby Boy," both of which she sang on the television series 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.[7] Aimin' to Please's "Something to Brag About," a duet with Willie Nelson, earned the pair a place on the music charts in 1977.[7]

While working on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Place also wrote scripts for episodes of 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.[8]

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

In the 1977 musical drama New York, New York, directed by Martin Scorsese, Place sings "Blue Moon" with Robert De Niro, whose character also accompanies her on saxophone. It is included in the original motion picture soundtrack.

In the 1979 Burt Reynolds romantic comedy, Starting Over, Place plays the first woman Reynolds dates after a divorce.[8]

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.[7]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the actress appeared in a number of television films and a starring role in the 1992 Kurt Russell and Martin Short comedy Captain Ron.[8] 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 anti-abortion 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.[7]

Place was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her work in the 1996 film Manny & Lo with Scarlett Johansson and Aleksa Palladino. 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 hard-of-hearing receptionist, Floris, and in Girl, Interrupted.[8] 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 Interrupted.


In 2000, the actress co-directed Don Henley's video for "Taking You Home". She had a small role in her second Lisa Krueger film, 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.[8]

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.[8] 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."[7]

In 2002, Place had a sizable role in the Reese Witherspoon film 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). From 2006 to 2011, she had a recurring role in HBO's Big Love, playing Adaleen Grant, the mother of the Chloë Sevigny character, Nicki.[7][8] She also had a recurring role on the HBO comedy Bored to Death.[10] 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.[11]

In 2009, she served as the voice of Julie Powell's mother in the film Julie & Julia. In 2013, she appeared as Bryan's mother on The New Normal.

In 2015, Place guest starred on The Mentalist and Looking.[12] She also starred in the comedy-drama film I'll See You in My Dreams directed by Brett Haley, opposite Blythe Danner,[13] and The Breakup Girl directed by Stacy Sherman.[14] She provided the voice of Anne Hathaway's mother in The Intern, directed by Nancy Meyers.[15] Place also had a recurring role on Grace and Frankie opposite Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.[16]

In 2016, Place starred in the comedy film The Hollars directed by John Krasinski[17] and the comedy-drama Youth in Oregon directed by Joel David Moore.[18] Place also portrayed Maria Bamford's mother in the comedy series Lady Dynamite which was cancelled after two seasons.[19]

In 2017, Place guest starred in an episode of the comedy series Black-ish.[20] She also had a cameo voice appearance in Downsizing directed by Alexander Payne.[21] Place also had a recurring role on the comedy series Imposters.[22]

In 2018, Place starred in State Like Sleep directed by Meredith Danluck[23] and appeared in an episode of the anthology drama The Romanoffs.[24] That same year, she starred in the drama film Diane directed by Kent Jones, and executive produced by Martin Scorsese.[25] The film marked Place's first lead role in a film, and was written specifically for her by Jones.[26] The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 2018.[27] Place's performance received rave reviews from critics.[28][29] The film was released on March 29, 2019, by IFC Films.[30] Place won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for her performance.[31][32] Place received nominations for Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress and Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.[33][34] Place also had a recurring role on Shameless.[35]


In 2020, Place guest starred on the comedy-drama series AJ and the Queen,[36] and on Fox's 9-1-1: Lone Star as Theresa Blake, the mother to Liv Tyler's character.[37] In 2021, Place played Millie in the musical drama Music, co-written and directed by Sia.[38][39] She also starred in the musical The Prom based on the Broadway musical of the same title directed by Ryan Murphy, for Netflix.[40]



Year Title Role Notes
1976 Bound for Glory Sue Ann
1977 New York, New York Bernice Bennett
1979 More American Graffiti Teensa
Starting Over Marie
1980 Private Benjamin Pvt. Mary Lou Glass
1981 Modern Problems Lorraine
1982 Waltz Across Texas Kit Peabody
1983 The Big Chill Meg Jones
Terms of Endearment Doris Voice
1985 Smooth Talk Katherine Wyatt
Explorers Mrs. Crandall Uncredited
1988 A New Life Donna
Portrait of a White Marriage Joyce Harrison
1990 Bright Angel Judy
1991 Samantha Marilyn
1992 Captain Ron Katherine Harvey
1994 Teresa's Tattoo Nora
1996 Citizen Ruth Gail Stoney
Manny & Lo Elaine
1997 Eye of God Claire Spencer
The Rainmaker Dot Black
1998 Naturally Native Madame Celeste
How to Make the Cruelest Month Mary Bryant
Pecker Joyce
1999 Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story Jan Martinez
Being John Malkovich Floris
Girl, Interrupted Barbara Gilcrest
2000 Committed Psychiatrist
2001 My First Mister Patty
Nailed Fern Romano
Human Nature Mrs. Bronfman
The Safety of Objects Helen Christianson
2002 Sweet Home Alabama Pearl Smooter
2003 Latter Days Sister Gladys Davis
2004 Evergreen Susan
Killer Diller Dr. Gwen Bradley
Silver City Grace Seymour
2005 Lonesome Jim Sally
Nine Lives Dr. Alma Wyatt
2007 Grace Is Gone Woman at Funeral
War Eagle, Arkansas Jessie
Mama's Boy Barbara
2008 City of Ember Mrs. Murdo
2009 Julie & Julia Mrs. Foster Voice
Youth in Revolt Mrs. Saunders
It's Complicated Joanne
2010 Shrek Forever After Guard Witch Voice
Leonie Albiana Gilmour
2012 Smashed Rochelle
2013 Bad Milo! Beatrice
You're in Charge Penny Guidry
2014 Miss Meadows Mrs. Davenport
Last Weekend Jeannie
2015 I'll See You in My Dreams Rona
The Breakup Girl Joan Baker
The Intern Mrs. Ostin Voice
2016 The Hollars Pam
Youth in Oregon Estelle Engersol
2017 Downsizing Land's End Customer Voice
2018 State Like Sleep Elaine Grand
Diane Diane Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated–Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated–Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated–Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
2020 The Prom Grandma Bea
2021 Music Millie
2022 My Father's Dragon Narrator Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1973 All in the Family Betty Sue Episode: "Archie Goes Too Far"
1974 M*A*S*H Lt. Louise Simmons Episode: "Springtime"
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Sally Jo Hotchkiss Episode: "Murray in Love"
1976 The Cheerleaders Margie TV film
1976–1977 Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Loretta Haggers Main role
1977 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) Episode: "Mary Kay Place/Willie Nelson"
1977–1978 Forever Fernwood Loretta Haggers TV series
1980 Act of Love Becky Wiggins TV film
1984 ABC Afterschool Special Ellie Skinner Episode: "Mom's on Strike"
For Love or Money K.K TV film
1985 The History of White People in America Joyce Harrison TV film
1986 The Disney Sunday Movie Prissy Thrash Episode: "The Girl Who Spelled Freedom"
The History of White People in America: Volume II Joyce Harrison TV film
1989 Out on the Edge Sondra Evetts TV film
1990 Thirtysomething Patsy Klein Episode: "Happy New Year"
Traitor in My House Elizabeth Van Lew TV film
1991 Crazy from the Heart Merrilee Playton TV film
1992 Bed of Lies Jean Daniel Murph TV film
Just My Imagination Shilda Hawk TV film
1993 Telling Secrets Shelley Jefferson Carp TV film
Tales of the City Prue Giroux TV miniseries
1994 In the Line of Duty: The Price of Vengeance Norma Williams TV film
1994–1995 My So-Called Life Camille Cherski Recurring role
1995 Chicago Hope Joanna Kenneally Episode: "Freeze Outs"
1996 My Very Best Friend Molly Butler TV film
For My Daughter's Honor Betty Ann Dustin TV film
1997 Love in Another Town Sam TV film
1998 Point Last Seen Coreen Davis TV film
1998–2009 King of the Hill Various Voice, 3 episodes
2000 The Wild Thornberrys Nancy Tucker Voice, episode: "Birthday Quake"
2001 Further Tales of the City Prue Giroux TV miniseries
A Woman's a Helluva Thing Cecilia Piloski TV film
Citizen Baines Francesca Dunlop Episode: "The Appraisal"
Leap Years Mrs. Greenway Episode #1.18
2001–2004 The West Wing Surgeon General Millicent Griffith 3 episodes
2002 Undeclared Mrs. Lindquist Episode: "Parents' Weekend"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Hope Garrett Episode: "Vulnerable"
2004 The Handler Naomi Prince Episode: "Acts of Congress"
2005 Jack & Bobby Rev. Rindhart Episode: "A Child of God"
2006 Numb3rs Hester Stirling Episode: "Protest"
2006–2018 Grey's Anatomy Olive Warner 3 episodes
2006–2011 Big Love Adaleen Grant Regular role
2007 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman Jeanette Woodman 2 episodes
Saving Grace Dorothy Edwina Talbert Episode: "It's Better When I Can See You"
2008 12 Miles of Bad Road C.Z. Shakespeare Main role
Pushing Daisies Annabelle Vandersloop Episode: "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy"
2010 Bored to Death Kathryn Joiner Recurring role
2012 The Life & Times of Tim Dorothy Voice, episode: "Action Packed Heist/Fall Foliage"
2013 Suburgatory Gam Gam Episode: "Blowtox and Burlap"
Californication Faith's Mother Episode: "Blind Faith"
The New Normal Colleen 2 episodes
A Country Christmas Story Sarah TV film
Holidaze Elaine Gerard TV film
2014 Rake Judge Cunningham Episode: "Jury Tamperer"
2014–2015 Getting On Dr. Ann Killigrew Recurring role
2015 The Mentalist Mrs. Bittacker Episode: "The Whites of His Eyes"
Looking Sarah Episode: "Looking for a Plot"
Ellen More or Less Virginia TV film
2015–2016 Grace and Frankie Amanda 3 episodes
2016 Family Guy Farting Lady Voice, episode: "The Heartbreak Dog"
2016–2017 Lady Dynamite Marilyn Bamford Main role
2017 Black-ish Doctor Harris Episode: "Good Dre Hunting"
2017–2018 Imposters Marsha Bloom 6 episodes
2018 The Romanoffs Marilyn Hopkins Episode: "Expectation"
2019–2020 Shameless Aunt Oopie 3 episodes
2020 AJ and the Queen Hospital Administrator Episode: "Baton Rouge"
9-1-1: Lone Star Theresa Blake Recurring role

As director or writer

Year Title Notes
1973 The Shape of Things Writer, TV special
1973–1974 M*A*S*H Writer, 3 episodes
1974 Paper Moon Writer, episode: "Gimme That Old Time Relation"
Friends and Lovers Writer, episode: "The Groupie"
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Writer, episode: "Mary's Delinquent"
Phyllis Writer, episode: "So Lonely I Could Cry"
1988 Baby Boom Director, episode: "Stress"
1994 Dream On Director, 2 episodes
1995 Friends Director, episode: "The One with the List"
1996 Dream On Director, episode: "Tenants, Anyone?"
Arliss Director, episode: "The Company You Keep"
2007 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman Director, 2 episodes



Year Album U.S. Country Label
1976 Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers 6 Columbia
1977 Aimin' to Please 40 Columbia
2011 Almost Grown Wounded Bird/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
U.S. Country U.S. 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


  1. ^ "Place, Mary Kay". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  2. ^ Ryan Lattanzio (December 8, 2019). "LA Film Critics Crown 'Parasite,' Bong Joon Ho, Mary Kay Place, and Antonio Banderas". IndieWire. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  3. ^ Bennett, Anita (January 5, 2020). "'Parasite' Wins Top Honor From National Society Of Film Critics". Deadline. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Mary Kay Place Book Contributions".
  5. ^ Michael Smith, Tulsa actress can't quit working, Tulsa World, October 13, 2008.
  6. ^ "Theta". Kappa Alpha Theta. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mary Kay Place". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
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  10. ^ Meslow, Scott (November 15, 2010). "'Bored to Death': Passive Characters Finally Fight Back". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  11. ^ Schenider, Michael; Littleton, Cynthia (March 17, 2008). "HBO passes on Tomlin's 'Bad Road'". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Mack, Diana (January 23, 2015). "The Mentalist - The Whites of His Eyes Review". Spoiler TV. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  13. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (April 7, 2015). "Watch: First Trailer For Sundance Buzz Movie 'I'll See You In My Dreams' Starring Blythe Danner & Martin Starr". IndieWire. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Saito, Stephen (July 9, 2015). "Interview: Stacy Sherman on Growing Up with "The Breakup Girl"". Moveable Fest. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  15. ^ Stockman, Tom (September 24, 2015). "THE INTERN – The Review". We Are Movie Geeks. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  16. ^ Lowry, Brian (April 27, 2015). "TV Review: Netflix's 'Grace and Frankie'". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Romano, Nick (July 13, 2016). "'The Hollars' Trailer: John Krasinski's Second Directorial Effort Takes on a Dysfunctional Family". Collider. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Coffin, Lesley (May 13, 2016). "Tribeca Interview: Youth in Oregon's Joel David Moore and Mary Kay Place". The Mary Sue. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 13, 2018). "'Lady Dynamite' Not Returning For Season 3 On Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  20. ^ M. Adams, Thelma (April 2, 2019). "Mary Kay Place Lands Her First Lead Role". AARP. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  21. ^ Crawford, Julie (December 22, 2017). "Downsizing shrinks as political satire loses its focus". North Shore News. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  22. ^ Newsome, Brad (February 24, 2017). "The best shows to stream: Imposters on Stan is dark, funny and unexpectedly interesting". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  23. ^ Tran-Bui, Haoi (November 29, 2018). "'State Like Sleep' Trailer: Katherine Waterston is Haunted by Her Husband's Death". Slash Film. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  24. ^ Dry, Jude (September 12, 2018). "'The Romanoffs' Official Trailer: See Isabelle Huppert and Diane Lane in Matthew Weiner's Epic Anthology Series". IndieWire. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  25. ^ Ehrlich, David (March 28, 2019). "'Diane' Director Kent Jones on How He Pulled Off the Perilous Transition from Film Critic to Filmmaker". IndieWire. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Phillips, Keith (April 1, 2019). "Mary Kay Place Waited Decades to Take Her First Movie Star Role. Diane Is Worth the Wait". New York. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  27. ^ "Diane". Tribeca Film Festival. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  28. ^ Verniere, James (April 5, 2019). "Mary Kay Place makes 'Diane' award-worthy". The Boston Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  29. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (April 25, 2018). "Film Review: 'Diane'". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  30. ^ Pederson, Erik (February 14, 2019). "'Diane' Trailer: Selfless But Tortured Mary Kay Place Seeks Redemption In Martin Scorsese-Produced Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  31. ^ White, Nicholas (January 12, 2020). "Jennifer Lopez, Mary Kay Place, Bong Joon Ho Accept Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  32. ^ Bennett, Anita (January 4, 2020). "'Parasite' Wins Top Honor From National Society Of Film Critics". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  33. ^ Hipes, Patrick (October 24, 2019). "Gotham Awards Nominations: A24's 'The Farewell', 'Uncut Gems', Netflix's 'Marriage Story' Lead Way". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  34. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 21, 2019). "Spirit Award Nominations: A24 Leads For 4th Straight Year With 18 Noms As 'Uncut Gems' & 'The Lighthouse' Come Up Big". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  35. ^ Hipes, Patrick (October 1, 2019). "'Shameless': Mary Kay Place, Elizabeth Rodriguez Join Season 10 Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  36. ^ Rawles, Timothy (January 14, 2020). ""AJ and the Queen" gets better as it rolls along". San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender News. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  37. ^ Misasi, Mary (February 1, 2020). "Preview — 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 1 Episode 4: Act of God". Tell Tale TV. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  38. ^ Hammond, Pete (February 10, 2021). "'Music' Review: Kate Hudson In Misguided Autism Musical Is Definitely Not For Your Must-Sia List". Deadline. Retrieved February 12, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  39. ^ "Mary Kay Place Talks 'Diane' At 2019 IFP Gotham Awards". December 6, 2019. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
Preceded byBuck Henry Saturday Night Live Host December 10, 1977 Succeeded byMiskel Spillman