“I think that we need to look hard at our beliefs and be responsible about how we speak out.”
– Mary Steenburgen (born February 8, 1953)
Mary Steenburgen, who turns 59 today, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lynda Dummar in Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard.
Born Mary Nell on February 8, 1953 in Newport, Arkansas, into a family of Dutch-American heritage, she was interested in arts and literature at a young age and was active in her school drama class. Steenburgen’s “big break” came when none other than Jack Nicholson noticed her in the reception room in the New York office of Paramount Pictures. Nicholson cast her as the lead in the movie, Goin’ South, which he directed. She also had a leading role in the 1979 film Time After Time. Steenburgen played a modern woman who falls in love with author H. G. Wells, played by her first husband-to-be Malcolm McDowell.
Melvin and Howard (1980) was only her third film. Her character, Lynda Dummar, was the wife of a man who claimed to have befriended reclusive eccentric Howard Hughes, and she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Steenburgen has had dozens of roles in television and movies (see her IMDB filmograpghy). She’s now married to Ted Danson and is known as an active humanitarian. According to LooktotheStars.org, she has backed the following causes: AIDS, Animals, Children, Conservation, Education, Environment, Hunger, Literacy, Poverty, Water and supports the ASPCA, Heifer International, Oceana and the Young Storytellers Foundation. Steenburgen, who is a close friend of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, actively supported Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
Celebrity Pictures courtesy of ImageCollect.