Mary Kay Place was first critically acclaimed for her role as country singer Loretta Haggers on the hit comedy series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, for which she won the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy. Since then she has been in 37 feature films including Bound for Glory, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, Private Benjamin, Starting Over, The Big Chill, Captain Ron, Alexander Payne’s Citizen Ruth, Lisa Kruegar’s Manny and Lo (for which she received a Best Supporting Female nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards), Frances Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker, John Water’s Pecker, Girl, Interrupted, Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich, Sweet Home Alabama, Nine Lives, and the soon to be released film on IFC, Lonesome Jim, directed by Steve Buscemi.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Place moved to Los Angeles after graduating from the University of Tulsa. After working for the Maude head writers at Norman Lear’s Tandem Productions, Place began co-writing (with Linda Bloodworth) for numerous TV series, including M*A*S*H (Emmy nomination, 1973) The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Phyllis. She also acted in episodes of All In the Family, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show before beginning Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
She wrote over 75 songs for her Mary Hartman character and recorded three albums for Columbia Records including the Grammy-nominated Tonite! At the Capri Lounge.
Her other television appearances include Saturday Night Live (as Host); Fernwood 2-Night; Martin Mull’s The History of White People in America (Ace nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy); Emmy Award winning Mom’s On Strike; PBS special, Talking With, directed by Kathy Bates; the provocative cable miniseries, Tales of the City; and the series Thirtysomething, My So Called Life, Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, The West Wing (as Surgeon General Millicent Griffith), Numbers, and Grey’s Anatomy.
Mary Kay has also worked as a director in television on episodes of Baby Boom, Dream On, Arliss, Friends, and other programs.