Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mary McDonnell (1952- )

Actress Mary McDonnell is a renowned stage and screen actress with two Academy Award nominations to her credit. She has appeared in several critically acclaimed films, Broadway plays, and television series. She was also born in Wilkes-Barre.

Mary McDonnell was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on April 28, 1952. However, she was raised in Ithaca, New York.

McDonnell began her professional acting career in 1980 as Claudia Colfax on the long-running soap opera As The World Turns. She soon moved to film work in supporting roles in such films as Garbo Talks (starring Anne Bancroft) and Tiger Warsaw (starring Patrick Swayze). Her first major film role was in the 1987 independent film Matewan, directed by John Sayles (Sayles would also direct McDonnell in 1992's Passion Fish, which earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination).

McDonnell has been nominated for two Academy Awards - - Best Supporting Actress for her role as Stands With A Fist in Dances With Wolves (1990), directed by and co-starring Kevin Costner, and Best Actress for Passion Fish (1992), directed by John Sayles and co-starring Alfre Woodard (Betty Applewhite from the hugely popular ABC series Desperate Housewives) and David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck).

McDonnell's other film credits include 1991's Grand Canyon (directed by Lawrence Kasdan and also starring Steve Martin and Kevin Kline), 1992's Sneakers (starring Robert Redford), the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day (starring Will Smith), and 2001's Donnie Darko (starring both Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal).

McDonnell's most recent work has been on two successful television series - she portrayed Eleanor Carter in the 2001-2002 season of ER, and she starred as President Laura Roslin in the Sci-Fi Channell's reimaging of the television series Battlestar Galactica from 2004-2006.

In addition to her work in film and on television, McDonnell has also appeared in a number of Broadway plays including The Heidi Chronicles (1990) and Summer and Smoke (1996).

Several of McDonnell's films, including Dances With Wolves, Passion Fish, Matewan, Grand Canyon, Independence Day, and Donnie Darko, are available on DVD and VHS from several libraries in the Lackawanna County Library System. Seasons One and Two of Battlestar Galactica (as well as the original 2004 miniseries that kicked off the television series), are available though the library catalog.

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