Mary Steenburgen Biography

Mary Steenburgen photo

Born: February 08, 1953


Date of Birth: February 8, 1953

Southerner Mary Steenburgen moved to New York at the age of 19 to become an actress. While trying to get her foot in the door by studying at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, she worked as a waitress. After six years in New York, Steenburgen got her big break when she was noticed by Jack Nicholson in the reception room of the Paramount offices. She appeared in her first movie as Nicholson's onscreen wife in the Western comedy Goin' South (1978). Shortly following this, Steenburgen appeared as Lynda Dummar in the film Melvin and Howard (1980) for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Instead of turning this success into a high profile Hollywood lifestyle, Steenburgen opted for a more modest lifestyle, accepting more reserved roles throughout her career. She has appeared in such films as Back to the Future: Part III (1990), eventually reprising the character's voice in the animated TV show; What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993); Philadelphia (1993); and Nixon (1995) -- to name a few.

In 2003 the humble actress starred in Elf with Will Farrell and has completed another film with him, Step Brothers (2008). In the last decade, she has appeared in several major motion pictures, including Four Christmases (2008), The Proposal (2009), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), The Help (2011) and A Walk in the Woods (2015).

Mary's most recent credits include work on the TV series Justified and Orange is the New Black, as well as the films The Book of Love (2017) and Dean (2017).

Steenburgen has always been fond of arts and literature. In high school she was an active part in her drama class and in 2002 she returned to her high school to teach drama workshops to students. In 2006 Steenburgen received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree (literature) from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas.

Steenburgen has two children, actress Lily McDowell and producer/writer Charlie McDowell, with her first husband, Malcolm McDowell. Since 1995 Steenburgen has been married to Ted Danson.


Dean (2017)
The Book of Love (2017)
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
The Help (2011)
Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)
The Proposal (2009)
Four Christmases (2008)
The Open Road (2008)
Step Brothers (2008)
In the Electric Mist (2008)
Honeydripper (2007)
The Brave One (2007)
Numb (2007)
Nobel Son (2007)
Elvis and Anabelle (2007)
The Dead Girl (2006)
Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School (2005)
Elf (2003)
Casa de los babys (2003)
Hope Srings (2003)
Wish You Were Dead (2002)
Sunshine State (2002)
I am Sam (2001)
Life as a House (2001)
The Trumpet of the Swan (2001)
Nobody's Baby (2001)
Nixon (1995)
Powder (1995)
The Grass Harp (1995)
Pontiac Moon (1994)
It Runs in the Family (1994)
Clifford (1994)
Philadelphia (1993)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
The Butcher's Wife (1991)
The Long Walk Home (1990)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Parenthood (1989)
Miss Firecracker (1989)
End of the Line (1987)
The Whales of August (1987)
Dead of Winter (1987)
One Magic Christmas (1985)
Romantic Comedy (1983)
Cross Creek (1983)
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
Ragtime (1981)
Melvin and Howard (1980)
Time After Time (1979)
Goin' South (1978)

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