Estelle Parsons

Estelle Parsons Headshot

Actress • Singer

Birth Name: Estelle Margaret Parsons

Birth Date: November 20, 1927

Age: 96 years old

Birth Place: Marblehead, Massachusetts

The first female political reporter on network TV during her five-year stint with "The Today Show" (NBC) in the early 1950s, Estelle Parsons made her Broadway debut as a reporter in the Ethel Merman musical "Happy Hunting" (1956) and later won a Theatre World Award in the title role of "Mrs. Dally Takes a Lover" (1962).

Although she had acted in the feature "Ladybug, Ladybug" (1963), it was her second film (and first Hollywood movie) role as the shrewish Blanche Barrow in Arthur Penn's landmark "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) that established her credentials as a wonderful screen character actress. Hysterical with bullets whizzing by and grief-stricken after the shoot-out that blinded her in one eye and left her husband Buck (Gene Hackman) dead, she unwittingly provided law enforcement with the info that would lead to the demise of Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde (Warren Beatty). Her tour de force performance earned that year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and her next outing as Joanne Woodward's schoolteacher colleague in Paul Newman's directing debut, "Rachel, Rachel" (1968), garnered another Academy Award nomination in the category.

Parsons acted opposite Jackie Gleason in the uninspired film version of Woody Allen's play "Don't Drink the Water" (1969), then portrayed Hackman's sister and Melvyn Douglas' daughter in Gilbert Cates' sensitive adaptation (written by the playwright) of Robert Anderson's "I Never Sang for My Father" (1970).

After supporting Barbra Streisand in "For Pete's Sake" (1974), Parsons made only small screen appearances during the late 70s and 80s (i.e., in episodes of CBS' "All in the Family," as Bess Truman in the 1979 NBC miniseries "Backstairs at the White House" and portraying teacher Clare Block in the 1988 CBS-movie "Open Admissions") before returning to features as Mrs. Truehart in "Dick Tracy" (1990), which reteamed her with Warren Beatty, who both starred and directed.

Since then, she has turned up as Louise in Herbert Ross' extremely likable "Boys on the Side" (1995), as Queen Margaret in Al Pacino's inventive documentary about acting Shakespeare "Looking for Richard" (1996) and as Old Lady McCracken in the disappointing remake of "That Darn Cat" (1997).

Parsons never abandoned the stage, carving a niche with quality performances like her Tony-nominated turns as the title characters of Tennessee Williams' "The Seven Descents of Myrtle" (1968) and Paul Zindel's "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" (1971) as well as the dictatorial schoolteacher of "Miss Margarida's Way" (1977). She branched into directing with NYC productions of "Voices" (1978) and "Antony and Cleopatra" (1979), and adapted, co-directed and performed the seven monologues that comprised Dario Fo and Franco Rame's "Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo" (1983).

In the mid-80s, producer Joseph Papp selected her to direct a company of young actors in Shakespearean roles in an effort to bring the Bard to NYC schoolchildren. One of her more recent theatrical triumphs was as Winnie in Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," which she performed in a variety of venues.

But her recurring role as Bev Harris, the busybody mother of Roseanne and Jackie, on the ABC sitcom "Roseanne" (1989-97) has undoubtedly provided the greatest exposure of her distinguished career.

Credits

The ConnersStream

Guest Star
Beverly
Series
2018
93%

Diane

Actor
Mary
Movie
2018

Grace and FrankieStream

Guest Star
Babe
Series
2016
90%

She's the Best Thing In It

Self
Movie
2015

Seewatchlook - O que Você Vê Quando Olha o que Enxerga?

Actor
Movie
2014

Seewatchlook - O que Você Vê Quando Olha o que Enxerga?

Actor
Show
2013

Wilde Salomé

Actor
Movie
2011

The Good WifeStream

Guest Star
Nana Joe
Series
2009
93%

Empire FallsStream

Actor
Bea
Miniseries
2005

Strip Search

Actor
Roberta Gray
Movie
2004

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Guest Star
Rose Rinato
Series
1999
78%

Freak City

Actor
Mrs. Stanapolous
Movie
1999

The Love Letter

Actor
Beatrice Corrigan
Movie
1998

That Darn Cat

Actor
Old Lady McCracken, Rucluse Widow
Movie
1997

Theater Talk

Guest
Show
1996

Looking for Richard

Actor
Queen Margaret/Herself
Movie
1996

Boys on the Side

Actor
Louise
Movie
1995

Touched by an AngelStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

Inside the Actors Studio

Guest
Talk
1994

FrasierStream

Guest Star
Opal
Series
1993
95%

FrasierStream

Guest Voice
Celeste's Mother
Series
1993
95%

A Private Matter

Actor
Mary Chessen
Movie
1992

RoseanneStream

Actor
Bev Harris
Series
1988
76%

RoseanneStream

Guest Star
Beverly "Bev" Harris
Series
1988
76%

Open Admissions

Actor
Clare Block
Movie
1988

Guests of the Nation

Actor
Show
1981

Come Along With Me

Actor
Mabel Lederer/Angela Motorman
Movie
1981

The Gentleman Bandit

Actor
Marjorie Seebode
Movie
1981

Archie Bunker's Place

Guest Star
Series
1979

The UFO Incident

Actor
Betty Hill
Movie
1975

Foreplay

Actor
1st Lady/Barmaid
Movie
1975

A Memory of Two Mondays

Actor
Agnes
Show
1974

For Pete's Sake

Actor
Helen Robbins
Movie
1974

The Gun and the Pulpit

Actor
Sadie Underwood
Movie
1974

Terror on the Beach

Actor
Arlene Glynn
Movie
1973

Two People

Actor
Barbara Newman
Movie
1973

Terror en la Playa

Actor
Movie
1973

All in the FamilyStream

Guest Star
Series
1971

I Walk the Line

Actor
Ellen Haney
Movie
1970

The Front Page

Actor
Mollie Malloy
Movie
1970

I Never Sang for My FatherStream

Actor
Alice
Movie
1970
100%

Watermelon Man

Actor
Althea Gerber
Movie
1970

Love, American Style

Actor
Bernice
Series
1969

Don't Drink the WaterStream

Actor
Marion Hollander
Movie
1969

The Dick Cavett ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1968

Rachel, RachelStream

Actor
Calla Mackie
Movie
1968
92%

Bonnie and ClydeStream

Actor
Blanche
Movie
1967
90%

Ladybug, Ladybug

Actor
JoAnn's Mother
Movie
1963

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

Guest
Talk
1962

What's My Line?Stream

Actor
Game Show
1950

What's My Line?Stream

Guest
Game Show
1950

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