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Mary McDonnell

Mary McDonnell made her impressive debut on the New York stage in Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child. Subsequent stage work includes appearances in A Doll's House, Savage in Limbo, O Pioneers!, A Weekend Near Madison and The Heidi Chronicles. She received an Obie for her performance in Still Life. Her breakthrough film role came as the boardinghouse owner in John Sayles' acclaimed Matewan (1987). McDonnell received much critical praise in Dances with Wolves (1991) as Stands with a Fist, a white woman raised by a tribe of Sioux Indians who becomes charmed by a disgruntled Civil War veteran (played by Kevin Costner). She received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for that role and earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for another John Sayles film, Passion Fish (1992). Other memorable screen credits include playing Kevin Kline's unhappy wife in Lawrence Kasdan's Grand Canyon, as the First Lady in the blockbuster hit Independence Day and, most recently, as Jake Gyllenhaal's mother in the psycho-thriller, Donnie Darko.

Her illustrious small-screen career had humble beginnings as four-year-old Claudia Colfax on CBS's long-running soap, AS THE WORLD TURNS. While she has appeared in many made-for-television movies, including Woman Undone and a remake of 12 Angry Men, she's probably best known for her recurring role as Dr. Chris Carter's absentee mother on ER; the performance earned her a 2002 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Mary McDonnell Facts

BirthdayApril 28, 1952 (71)
BirthplaceWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
Height5' 8" (1m73)  How tall is Mary McDonnell compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Donnie Darko
Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series
You Can Thank Me Later
Dances with Wolves
Major Crimes: Season 4
Battlestar Galactica:The Mini-Series
Born Free
Continue » Find more details on the Mary McDonnell Movies page