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Estelle Margaret Parsons (born November 20, 1927) appears on Roseanne and The Conners as Beverly Harris, Roseanne and Jackie's one-time alcoholic, sometimes overbearing mother. Estelle is a seasoned veteran theatre, film and television actress and occasional theatrical director.


Early life and careerEdit

Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, in the Lynn Hospital, Estelle's mother, Elinor Ingeborg (née Mattsson), was a native of Sweden, and her father, Eben Parsons, was of English descent.[1][2][3] She attended the Oak Grove School for Girls in Maine. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1949, Parsons initially studied law at Boston University, and then worked as a singer with a band before settling on an acting career in the early 1950s.

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 Broadway 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).

Moving to New York City, she worked as a writer, producer and commentator for The Today Show. She made her Broadway debut in 1956 in the ensemble of the Ethel Merman musical "Happy Hunting." 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).

Stage careerEdit

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 Weill – Brecht 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 continued playing the role during the show's national tour beginning July 24, 2009, in Denver.

as Director

As a director, Estelle 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 Studio for five years, ending in 2003.

Film careerEdit

Estelle's 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.

TV creditsEdit

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, All In The Family and Archie Bunker's Place (on both series as Blanche Hefner, Barney Hefner's estranged wife), Open Admissions, Frasier, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the TV-movie The UFO Incident: The Story of Betty and Barney Hill (opposite James Earl Jones), and the PBS production of June Moon.


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


External linksEdit

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