Marsha Mason Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (3)

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Birth NameMarsha Helena Mason
Height 5' 3¾" (1.62 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Marsha Mason has a wonderful, extremely engaging "feel good" quality about her, an innate warmth that makes you root for her whether she's playing a stubborn single mom, brittle prostitute, or strung-out alcoholic. She was a resoundingly respected and popular film actress of the 1970s and 1980s whose career skyrocketed in the bittersweet comedies/dramas of award-winning Neil Simon. Earning a string of leading lady Oscar nominations within a short span of time (three of them, courtesy of husband Simon), Marsha's movie career suffered a major fall-out when the famed couple parted ways in 1983 -- most probably due to her almost exclusive, amazingly successful association with him.

The elder of two sisters born to James Joseph Mason and Jacqueline Helena (Rachowsky) Mason in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 3, 1942, Marsha was raised, for a time, in Crestwood, Missouri, before moving to Webster Groves (a suburb of St. Louis) and graduating from Nerinx Hall High School. There, she attended Webster University and, after receiving her degree, moved to New York where she began taking acting classes and finding some work in TV commercials in-between regular job-hunting.

Marrying fellow struggling actor Gary Campbell in 1965, Marsha made an inauspicious movie debut with the forgettable Hot Rod Hullabaloo (1966). Focusing intently on stage work, she made her professional debut in 1967 with "The Deer Park" at the Theatre de Lys and, the next year, joined the cast as a replacement in the established hit comedy, "Cactus Flower", at the Royale Theatre. Subsequent work came her way both on- and off-Broadway ("It's Called the Sugar Plum", "The Indian Wants the Bronx", "Happy Birthday, Wanda June", "Richard III"). She later hooked up with San Francisco's prestigious American Conservatory Theatre and appeared in an enviable number of their productions ("The Merchant of Venice", "Private Lives", "You Can't Take It With You", "A Doll's House", "Cyrano de Bergerac", "The Crucible").

Daytime soaps played a vital part during this period of time (1969-1972), playing a hooker-turned-vampire on the popular Dark Shadows (1966) series and winning regular roles on Where the Heart Is (1969) and Love of Life (1951). Divorced after five years from actor Gary Campbell in 1970, the pert-nosed, dark-haired beauty met Neil Simon, a recent widower, when he cast her in his 1973 original Broadway production of "The Good Doctor". They had a whirlwind romance and married with a few weeks.

1973 was an excellent year in other ways in that Marsha won the second femme lead in Blume in Love (1973), starring George Segal and Susan Anspach, and then beat out such stars as Barbra Streisand for the coveted role of the hooker opposite James Caan's sailor in the realistic drama Cinderella Liberty (1973). The chemistry was electric between the two and Mason earned her first Oscar nod. Following a leading stage role in "The Heiress" (1975) and playing "Roxane" in a TV version of Cyrano de Bergerac (1975), Marsha earned two more Neil Simon-driven Oscar nominations with The Goodbye Girl (1977), opposite Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss, and Chapter Two (1979), which reunited her with James Caan and was based on Mason and Simon's own relationship.

Simon would offer his wife Oscar-worthy material one more time with Only When I Laugh (1981), as an alcoholic trying to stay on the wagon for daughter Kristy McNichol. This would be Marsha's fourth Academy Award nod. The couple's last film project together came in the form of Max Dugan Returns (1983), which was a major misfire.

Following Marsha's divorce from Simon, her film product decreased rapidly in quantity as well as quality. With the exception of the Clint Eastwood vehicle, Heartbreak Ridge (1986), she made no other films in the 1980s. While her film output did increase in the 1990s, none of them -- Stella (1990), Drop Dead Fred (1991), I Love Trouble (1994), Nick of Time (1995) and 2 Days in the Valley (1996) -- did anything to jump-start her waning cinematic career.

Over the years, Marsha maintained by focusing on TV and stage work. More recent theatre credits have included "The Night of the Iguana", "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (another popular Simon work in which she appeared opposite Richard Dreyfuss in London), "Wintertime", "Steel Magnolias", "I Never Sang for My Father", "All's Well that Ends Well" and the Simon play "California Suite", some of which played Broadway.

On the small screen, Marsha starred in her own short-lived series Sibs (1991) and appeared in an Emmy-nominated recurring role on the series, Frasier (1993), as a love interest for Martin Crane. She has also appeared in a number of TV-movies, including one as Judy Garland's mother, "Ethel Gumm", in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001), and has guest-starred on such series as "Seinfeld," "The Education of Max Bickford," "Lipstick Jungle," "Army Wives," "The Good Wife," "Madame Secretary." Her more recent recurring parts have been on the comedy series The Middle (2009) and Grace and Frankie (2015).

On a rare occasion, the veteran actress has directed both on film and TV. Feeling out of sorts in Hollywood at one stage, Marsha strongly pursued her spiritual side, primarily as a disciple of Swami Muktananda. She later moved to New Mexico in 1993 and she became an owner of an organic farm where she raised herbs and operated a wellness line of bath and body products. She also enjoyed professional race car driving at one point. An insightful, highly revealing autobiography came out in the form of "Journal: A Personal Odyssey" in 2000.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Family (3)

Spouse Neil Simon (25 October 1973 - 7 July 1983)  (divorced)
Gary Campbell (14 February 1965 - 1970)  (divorced)
Parents James Joseph Mason
Jacqueline Helena Mason
Relatives Justyn M. Rakowski (grandparent)

Trivia (18)

Met Neil Simon while rehearsing his play, 'The Good Doctor'. They were married three weeks later. The Simon play 'Chapter Two' was the semi-autobiographical story of his life with Mason. Although Mason was in the screen version of Chapter Two (1979), she never played the role on-stage.
The character she played in Promises in the Dark (1979) (Dr. Alexandra Kendall) was inspired by Los Angeles oncologist, Dr. Alexandra Levine (who is listed in the credits as an advisor).
Attended and graduated from Nerinx Hall High School and Webster University, both in Webster Groves, Missouri.
Passed on the title role in Norma Rae (1979), which won Sally Field a Best Actress Oscar.
Narrator for the recorded queue and boat show for the "Living with the Land" boat ride attraction in Epcot at Walt Disney World, Florida (1992).
Beat out Barbra Streisand for the lead role in the film Cinderella Liberty (1973). Streisand was the studio's choice for the role. Marsha won her first Oscar nomination.
Ex-sister-in-law of Danny Simon.
Attended Nerinx Hall High School, the same small, private all-girls high school in Webster Groves, Missouri that The Office (2005) actress Jenna Fischer also attended.
She was awarded a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame at 6646 Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri on May 19, 2002.
Was cited as one of the most promising movie personalities of 1973 in John Willis' 1974 Film Annual "Screen World" book.
She studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village, New York City.
Currently resides in New York City, and recently completed (2018) building a contemporary home on a hayfield in bucolic Litchfield County, Connecticut.
Currently running her own herbal medicine business called "Resting in the River". Business is both sales and manufacturing of medicine. Medicines are made from her own herb garden in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
While married to writer Neil Simon, she appeared in five movies he wrote: The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), Chapter Two (1979), Only When I Laugh (1981) and Max Dugan Returns (1983). From those five roles, she garnered three Best Actress Oscar nominations, for The Goodbye Girl, Chapter Two, and Only When I Laugh, none of which she actually won.
She's on record in the AFI's book "Private Screenings" as listing Rebel Without a Cause (1955) as her favorite film.
Marsha's father, James Joseph Mason, had English and Irish ancestry. Marsha's maternal grandparents, Justyn M. Rakowski and Jadwiga/Ida Piotrzkowski, were Polish.
Is one of 19 actresses to have received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for a performance where they acted out a labor and/or birth; hers being for Cinderella Liberty (1973). The others in chronological order are Luise Rainer for The Good Earth (1937), Jane Wyman for Johnny Belinda (1948), Eleanor Parker for Caged (1950), Elizabeth Taylor for Raintree County (1957), Leslie Caron for The L-Shaped Room (1962), Shirley MacLaine for Irma la Douce (1963), Vanessa Redgrave for Isadora (1968), Geneviève Bujold for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Ann-Margret for Tommy (1975), Ellen Burstyn for Same Time, Next Year (1978), Jessica Lange for Sweet Dreams (1985), Meryl Streep for A Cry in the Dark (1988), Samantha Morton for In America (2002), Elliot Page for Juno (2007), Gabourey Sidibe for Precious (2009), Ruth Negga for Loving (2016), Yalitza Aparicio for Roma (2018) and Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman (2020).
Owns the Resting in the River Organic Farm located in Abiquiu, New Mexico where she grows medicinal herbs.

Personal Quotes (4)

I always felt rightly or wrongly after being a part of a marriage and a public sort of couple the whole thing sort of felt very strange here. The idea of being a single woman in Hollywood is a very peculiar thing.
[referring to her first film, Hot Rod Hullabaloo (1966)] I hope I won't ever find a piece of film from it.
I realized a lot of my own personal sense of identity was wrapped up in my work. So moving to New Mexico...what was really wonderful was I discovered the work is the work and Marsha is Marsha and a lot of various pieces make up Marsha.
[Interview with Andrea Chambers, June 1985] I thought I wasn't attractive or talented anymore. I cried easily and was depressed and removed. I became emotionally insecure about what the second half of my life would bring. I was angry, scared, frightened and lonely. I had thought the marriage would last forever.

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