Mary Pat Gleason, known for a long career on TV and for her Daytime Emmy win as part of the Guiding Light writing team, has died of cancer at age 70.
Gleason's death was announced by her Mom co-star Mimi Kennedy (b. 1948) on Twitter. She wrote:
“I’m saddened to learn that Mary Pat Gleason (Mary on @MomCBS ) passed away. From her nephew 'Her curtain closed at 10:20 Tuesday evening.' I’m sure she was met with Thunderous applause and a great party backstage. My love to you Mary and to your loved ones.”
On Facebook, Ron Fassler wrote:
“Mary Pat Gleason, one of the dearest and sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure to know, passed away last night at age seventy. She has 174 credits on her IMDB page (with one unreleased film still to come), but she was so much more than a wonderful actress: she was one of a kind. So caring, so funny, and so delicious to be around, that I find it hard to imagine a world without her shining presence and smiling face. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved her (all one million of you). Let's all raise a glass to her this evening as one and offer a final toast and a fond farewell in her memory. ❤️”
Born February 23, 1950, in Lake City, Minnesota, Gleason got her start in local theater ahead of becoming an instantly recognizable comic character actress. Among her long list of TV credits, which began in 1980, she appeared on Full House (1987), Mama's Family (1988), Murphy Brown (1989), Who's The Boss? (1990), Empty Nest (1990), Saved by the Bell (1990), Murder, She Wrote (1991), Coach (1993), Friends (1994) and many others.
She was Jane Hogan on Guiding Light (1983), the show for which she won her writing Daytime Emmy, and until last year was Mary on Mom (2014-2019).
Her movie credits were as diverse as her characters were memorably named, including "Party Mother" in Easy Money (1983), "Kindly Troop Leader" in Troop Beverly Hills (1989), "Juvenile Officer" in Basic Instinct (1992) and "Dusty Mullet Lady" in Earth to Echo (2014). She also had a prominent role in 2004's A Cinderella Story.
Among her last projects were Sierra Burgess Is a Total Loser (2018) for Netflix and the 2019 series WTF 101 for College Humor.
In 2006, she starred in her one-woman show Stopping Traffic, which she wrote and the urging of her close friend Michael Patrick King (b. 1954), of Sex and the City (1998-2004) fame. She said in an interview that the show, which features her struggle with bipolar disorder, was something she was almost too scared to commit to — and it was so overwhelming she attempted suicide:
“I spent the opening night of my show in the locked psych ward of UCLA. The only person who showed up for that performance was Michael Patrick King. I saw him kind of winding his way down the hallway, holding a card in his hands, and he was saying, 'This could be funny… or this could be awful.'
“I opened the card and on it was a picture of beautiful marble cat’s eyes. Inside it read… 'Did somebody lose their marbles?'
“For a moment, I was shocked. Then we both laughed ‘til we cried.
“With that card, Michael lifted the shame of my attempted suicide. With our shared laughter he set me free again.”
Rest in peace, dear lady.