We have just lost one of the most prolific character actresses of our time, as A Cinderella Story and Mom star Mary Pat Gleason has passed away. Her manager confirmed that the veteran performer died after a long battle with cancer on June 2, noting Gleason "was a fighter to the end." She was 70 years old.
Mary Pat Gleason was born on Feb. 23, 1950, in the Minnesota town of Lake City. Before her career in movies and television would begin in the '80s, Gleason was performing on stage in high school, notably starring in a Theater St. Paul production of Once Upon a Mattress. Decades later, she would return to the stage to play herself in an Off-Broadway production of Stopping Traffic at the Vineyard Theatre in New York.
Chances are, Gleason would be recognized by many of us from her many memorable one-off appearances on a wide variety of famous television programs over the years. She has over a hundred TV credits dating back to Texas in 1982, with another of her early roles including Jane Hogan on the long-running TV series The Guiding Light. In addition to appearing on the show, Gleason also worked on the Guiding Light writing team, and she won a Daytime Emmy Award with her fellow writing staff in 1986 for Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team.
There are many, many other places you might recognize Gleason from as well. Some of Gleason's other numerous TV credits include roles on such series as Full House, Murphy Brown, Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Family Matters, Sex and the City, Mama's Family, and 2 Broke Girls. Additionally, she starred on the CollegeHumor web-series WTF 101 as Professor Foxtrot.
Gleason is also well known for her role on the comedy series Mom with Allison Janney and Anna Faris. Her character, an Alcoholics Anonymous member named Mary, appeared in multiple episodes, often delivering bizarre anecdotes at the AA meetings. The character was written out of the series during its seventh season when Mary died of a brain aneurysm, though Mary will forever remain one of the brightest spots of the series.
Gleason also appeared in several dozen movies over the course of her career as well. This includes playing memorable character roles in movies like Basic Instinct, Bruce Almighty, Intolerable Cruelty, 13 Going on 30, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Gleason also played the waitress Eleanor in 2004's A Cinderella Story in another one of her most memorable roles. More recently, she appeared as a high school guidance counselor to the main characters in the 2018 movie Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.
It's never easy to say goodbye to someone with so much talent who had seemed so full of life, and our thoughts go out to those who knew Gleason at this difficult time. There's no doubt that she's brought a lot of joy and laughter to an untold amount of people over the years, and she'll forever be missed and appreciated. May she rest in peace. This news comes to us from Variety.