Marsha Mason

Marsha Mason
Marsha Mason
Born April 3, 1942 (1942-04-03) (age 69)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Actress/Director
Years active 1966–present
Gary Campbell
Neil Simon

Marsha Mason (born April 3, 1942) is an American actress and television director.

She received four Academy Award nominations as Best Actress for her performances in Cinderella Liberty, The Goodbye Girl, Chapter Two, and Only When I Laugh. She is also known for starring in the 1986 film Heartbreak Ridge.



Mason was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to James Joseph Mason, a printer [4], and his wife Jacqueline Helena Mason. She and her younger sister, Linda (b. 1943), grew up on Elmont Lane in Crestwood, Missouri. Mason is a graduate of Nerinx Hall High School and Webster University, both in Webster Groves, Missouri.

She raced a Mazda RX-7 in SCCA events.[1]

She is a resident of New Mexico, where she has a farm[2] in Abiquiu that grows certified organic herbs. In the late 1990s, Mason sold herbs wholesale to companies both locally and regionally before starting a line of wellness and bath and body products called Resting in the River.[3]


Marsha Mason has had a distinguished career in film and theater. Neil Simon cast her in his Broadway play The Good Doctor in 1973. Shortly afterwards, Mason and Simon, a widower, fell in love and got married. That same year, Mason co-starred opposite James Caan in the 20th Century Fox film Cinderella Liberty, which netted her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In 1977, Mason's performance in Simon's smash hit film, The Goodbye Girl, won her a second Best Actress Academy Award nomination. In 1979, Simon successfully cast Mason as Jennie MacLaine in the screen adaptation of his hit play Chapter Two, which was based on Mason's relationship with Simon up to their marriage. The film proved to be another big hit garnering her a third Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

In 1981, Mason starred, along with Kristy McNichol, James Coco, and Joan Hackett, in Only When I Laugh, Simon's film adaptation of his Broadway comedy-drama The Gingerbread Lady and another big box-office success. For her performance as Georgia Hines, Mason was again highly praised and earned a fourth Best Actress Oscar nomination. However, Mason's 1982 film written by Simon, Max Dugan Returns, was disappointing. Despite a stellar cast led by Mason, Donald Sutherland, Jason Robards and Matthew Broderick, Simon's script was a letdown and the film failed at the box office. By this time, Mason and Simon had divorced and her film career lost momentum. However, her film career began to pick up again when she co-starred with Clint Eastwood in the 1986 film Heartbreak Ridge, which was a major critical and commercial success.

Before Heartbreak Ridge, she played in a New York production of Harold Pinter's Old Times and directed the play Juno's Swans, by E. Katherine Kerr, at the Second Stage Theatre in Los Angeles.[4]

In 1987, she directed the television film Little Miss Perfect.

In 2001, Mason appeared in the ABC-TV film, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, in which she portrayed Garland's mother, Ethel Gumm.

Mason’s theater credit include Norman Mailer’s “The Deer Park”, Israel Horovitz’s “The Indian Wants the Bronx”, Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor (play)” and “King Richard III (play)” at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Mason starred on Broadway in “Night of the Iguana” in 1996, and the following year in Michael Cristofer’s “Amazing Grace”. Mason reunited with “Goodbye Girl” co-star Richard Dreyfus and writer Neil Simon in Duncan Weldon and Emanuel Azenberg’s production of “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” in 1999 which was performed at the L.A. Theatre Works shortly after a revival in London's West End and led to a Grammy nomination in comedy.[5] She appeared in Charles L. Mee’s “Wintertime” at the Second Stage theatre in New York. In August 2005 Mason starred as Hecuba at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and on Broadway Steel Magnolias, with Delta Burke, Frances Sternhagen, Rebecca Gayheart, Lily Rabe and Christine Ebersole. She appeared in “A Feminine Ending” at Playwrights Horizons and most recently in the Shakespeare Theater Company’s performance of “All's Well That Ends Well[6] in Washington, D.C.

Her other television work includes guest roles on Seinfeld, Lipstick Jungle, and Army Wives. Mason starred in her own series, Sibs, which ran from 1991 to 1992. In 1997 and 1998, she had a recurring role on the TV show Frasier as Sherry Dempsey.

In February 2010, she co-starred in California Suite at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.[7]

In April of that year, Mason co-starred with actors Keir Dullea and Matt Servitto in an Off-Broadway production of the Robert Anderson play I Never Sang for My Father.[8] For her performance as Margaret Garrison, Mason received gratifying reviews.[9][10][11]

Marsha Mason has received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.


Year Film Role Notes
1966 Hot Rod Hullabaloo Marcia Hamden
1968 Beyond the Law Marcia Stillwell (as Marcia Mason)
1969 Dark Shadows Audrey
Where the Heart Is Laura Blackburn (Television)
1971–1972 Love of Life Judith Cole (TV)
1972 Cyrano de Bergerac Roxane (Television)
Young Dr. Kildare Nurse Marsha Lord (TV series)
1973 Blume in Love Arlene
Cinderella Liberty Maggie Paul Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
1977 Audrey Rose Janice Templeton Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
The Goodbye Girl Paula McFadden Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1978 The Cheap Detective Georgia Merkle
The Good Doctor Various roles (Television)
1979 Promises in the Dark Dr. Alexandra Kendall Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Chapter Two Jennie MacLaine Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1981 Only When I Laugh Georgia Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
1982 Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal Lois Gibbs (Television)
1983 Max Dugan Returns Nora McPhee
1985 Surviving: A Family in Crisis Lois (Television)
1986 Trapped in Silence Jennifer Hubbell (Television)
Heartbreak Ridge Aggie
1988 Hothouse
1989 Dinner at Eight Millicent Jordan (Television)
1990 The Image Jean Cromwell (Television)
Stella Janice Morrison
1991 Drop Dead Fred Polly Cronin
Sibs Nora Ruscio (TV series)
1993 One Life to Live Sabrina Episode dated 1 December 1993
1994 I Love Trouble Senator Gayle Robbins
1995 Broken Trust Ruth (Television)
Nick of Time Governor Eleanor Grant
1996 2 Days in the Valley Audrey Hopper
1997–1998 Frasier Sherry Dempsey 6 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Comedy Series
1999 Dead Aviators Lydia (Television)
2001 Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows Ethel Gumm (Television)
2002 The Education of Max Bickford Lilith Bigelow Episode "The Egg and I"
2004 The Long Shot Mary Lou O'Brian (Television)
Bride & Prejudice Catherine Darcy
Bereft Helen (Television)
2006 Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King Aunt Trudy Episode "The Road Virus Heads North"
2008 Lipstick Jungle Episode "Chapter Seven: Carpe Threesome"
Army Wives Charlotte Meade (2 episodes)
2010-2011 The Middle Pat Spence (4 episodes: "Mother's Day" - Season 1, "A Simple Christmas" - Season 2, "Major Changes" & "Thanksgiving III" - Season 3)


  1. ^
  2. ^ See the article, "Marsha Mason's Organic Farm and Estate."
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Marsha Mason Finds Joy In The Work Ethic", The Los Angeles Times, RODERICK MANN, February 16, 1986
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ "Actress Marsha Mason on Neil Simon, young actors, state of theater", KPCC, Feb. 17, 2010, Steve Julian
  8. ^ PATRICK HEALY (February 18, 2010). "Up Close With Keir Dullea and Marsha Mason". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ KEN JAWOROWSKI (April 6, 2010). "That Old Equation: Dad + Son = Clash". The New York Times. 
  10. ^
  11. ^

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