Biography

A former dancer and New York theater star, Marsha Mason never quite reached the heights of stardom suggested by her early film career. Still she remains a respected supporting and occasional leading Hollywood actress and has four Oscar nominations to prove it. In film, Mason started out playing bit parts. She also appeared on television in such series as Dr. Kildare. She had her first substantial film role in Hot Rod Hulaballoo (1966). Her first big break came after she traveled to San Francisco to appear in an American Conservatory Theater production of Private Lives directed by Francis Ford Coppola. While on the West Coast she played a supporting role in Paul Mazursky's Blume in Love (1973). It was her stage work, however, that led filmmaker Mark Rydell to cast her as a pregnant single mother who prostitutes herself in Seattle in Cinderella Liberty (1973). She beat out Barbra Streisand, the studio's choice, for the role and won her first Academy Award nomination. Her second nomination came from her portrayal of a divorced chorine trying to support herself and her daughter while dealing with a series of failed romances in Neil Simon's comedy-drama The Goodbye Girl (1977). She and Simon were married at the time and the famed playwright wrote the part especially for her. Mason's co-star, Richard Dreyfuss, won a Best Actor Oscar. Simon wrote the screenplay for the film responsible for Mason's third Oscar nomination, Chapter Two (1979), which was an autobiographical account of their courtship. He also penned the part that landed her a fourth nomination, Only When I Laugh (1981). Through the '80s, Mason seemed to concentrate more on television movies, such as Love Canal (1982) and Surviving (1985), and her feature-film appearances became sporadic. In 1991, she starred in the short-lived sitcom Sibs. In 1997, Mason became a semi-regular on the popular NBC sitcom Frasier, playing the love interest of Kelsey Grammar's father, John Mahoney. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi