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Estelle Margaret Parsons (born November 20, 1927) is an American theatre, film and television actress, and occasional theatrical director.

After studying law, Parsons became a singer before deciding to pursue a career in acting. She worked for the television program Today and made her stage debut in 1961. During the 1960s, Parsons established her career on Broadwaymarker before progressing to film. She received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and was also nominated for her work in Rachel, Rachel (1968).

Parsons worked extensively in film and theatre during the 1970s and later directed several Broadway productions. More recently her television work includes a role in the award-winning sitcom Roseanne. Nominated on four occasions for a Tony Award, in 2004 Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Early life

Parsons was born in Lynn, Massachusettsmarker. in the Lynn Hospital, the daughter of Elinor Ingebore (née Mattson), who was a native of Swedenmarker, and Eben Parsons. She attended the Oak Grove School for Girls in Maine. After graduating from Connecticut Collegemarker in 1949, Parsons initially studied law at Boston Universitymarker, and then worked as a singer with a band before settling on an acting career in the early 1950s.


Moving to New York Citymarker, she worked as a writer, producer and commentator for The Today Show. She began performing Off-Broadway in 1961, and received a Theatre World Award in 1963 for her performance in Whisper into My Good Ear/Mrs. Dally Has a Lover (1962).

Parsons has received Tony Award nominations for her work in The Seven Descents of Myrtle (1968), And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little (1971), Miss Margarida's Way (1978), and Morning's at Seven (2002). She played the Widow Begbick in the American premiere of the WeillBrecht opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1970), and performed as Mrs. Peacham to Lotte Lenya's Jenny in Threepenny Opera on tour and in New York City. She also played "Ruth" in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance on Broadway in 1981. From June 17, 2008, through May 17, 2009, she played the role of "Violet Weston" in August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. She will continue playing the role during the show's national tour beginning July 24, 2009, in Denvermarker.

As a director, Parsons has a number of Broadway credits, including a production of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and As You Like It in 1986. Off-Broadway, she directed Dario Fo's Orgasmo Adulto Escapes From the Zoo (1983). She also served as the Artistic Director of the Actors Studiomarker for five years, ending in 2003.

Her film career includes an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and a nomination for Rachel, Rachel (1968). She also received a BAFTA Award nomination for her role in Watermelon Man (1970), and appeared in I Never Sang for My Father (1971), Two People (1973), A Memory of Two Mondays (1974), For Pete's Sake (1975), Dick Tracy (1990) and Boys on the Side (1995). She was also the original choice to play the part of Pamela Voorhees in the 1980 film Friday the 13th; the part later went to Betsy Palmer.

On television, Parsons played the part of Roseanne and Jackie's pretentious mother, Beverly, on the 1988-1997 sitcom Roseanne. Her other television credits include appearances in The Patty Duke Show, Frasier, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, All In The Family, Archie Bunker's Place, Open Admissions‎, the TV-movie The UFO Incident: The Story of Betty and Barney Hill (opposite James Earl Jones), and the PBS production of June Moon. In 1957 Parson's played opposite Phil Silvers on The Phil Silvers Show, Episode 76 - Bilko's Double Life.

In 2004, Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Personal life

Her grandson is Jacksonville Jaguars starting right tackle Eben Britton.


  1. The Passion of estelle parsons
  2. Estelle Parsons Biography (1927-)
  3. Estelle Parsons Biography - Yahoo! Movies

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