Estelle Parsons

30 Nov 2016


Estelle Parsons in Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s production of The Velocity of Autumn. Photo by Tony Powell.

"I never really felt like an actor. I felt like a person who was really interested in exploiting my one opportunity of being alive."

Actress Estelle Parsons has found success on stage, screen and television, often playing characters who can best be described as fanatical or neurotic. She started out as a production assistant and then a staff writer on NBC's Today show, where she was eventually promoted to feature producer. Parsons launched her acting career on stage in the late 1950s. She earned Tony nominations for Best Actress for her performances in The Seven Descents of Myrtle (1968), And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little (1971), and Miss Margarida's Way (1978), and she recently earned a featured actress Tony nomination for Mornings at Seven (2002). Parsons made her film debut with a small role in Ladybug, Ladybug (1963), and four years later she won an Oscar for her portrayal of Blanche in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). She earned a second Oscar nomination in 1968 for playing a religious fanatic in Rachel, Rachel. Parsons has appeared in many made-for-television movies and is also well known for her role as Roseanne's mother in the popular TV series Roseanne from 1988 to 1997.

While in Philadelphia to perform August: Osage County with the Arden Theatre Company in April 2010, Parsons met with local theater professionals at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to talk about acting. Abigail Adams, artistic director of People's Light & Theatre Company, moderated the discussion.