Louise Lasser

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Louise Lasser
File:Louise Lasser Mary Hartman 1976.JPG
Lasser as Mary Hartman, 1977.
Born (1939-04-11) April 11, 1939 (age 79)
New York, New York City, United States
Occupation Actress, television writer
Spouse(s) Woody Allen
(m. 1966; div. 1970)

Louise Lasser (born April 11, 1939) is an American actress and television writer. She is known for her portrayal of the title character on the soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She was married to Woody Allen and appeared in several of his early films.

Personal life

Lasser was born in New York City, the daughter of Paula and S. Jay Lasser, a tax expert.[1] Her family is Jewish.[2] She studied political science at Brandeis University.[3] She was married to Woody Allen from 1966 to 1970. She lives in Manhattan and teaches acting technique at HB Studio.

Early career

Lasser was the understudy for Barbra Streisand in the Broadway musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale. She also appeared on the soap opera The Doctors and television commercials. She appeared in the Woody Allen films Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971), and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), as well as being one of the voices for his earlier spoof dubbing of a Japanese spy movie, What's Up Tiger Lily? (1966). She also appeared in comedies such as Such Good Friends (1971) and Slither (1973). In 1973, she appeared in the episode "The Roller Coaster Stops Here" of the NBC romantic anthology television series Love Story.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Lasser became a household name for starring as the neurotic, unhappy housewife Mary Hartman in the serialized parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The show aired five nights a week in 1976–1977. Lasser decided to leave the series after 2 seasons (325 episodes). The serial was rebranded as Forever Fernwood and continued on for 26 weeks.

In 2000, Lasser appeared on a panel with her former cast members at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills (taped for the museum archives). Lasser was interviewed about the series in the bonus features in the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Complete Series DVD box-set from Shout Factory which was released December 2013.[4]

Other roles and appearances

On July 24, 1976, Lasser hosted Saturday Night Live at the end of the first season. Her performance is best known for her opening monologue in which she has a Mary Hartman-esque meltdown and locks herself in her dressing room. She is then coaxed out by Chevy Chase/Land Shark.[5] There is an urban legend that Lasser was banned from the show because of this, which she flatly denies;[6] however, producer Lorne Michaels kept the episode from appearing in syndicated reruns.[7]

Lasser wrote the telemovie Just Me and You (1978), starring in it alongside Charles Grodin. She had a recurring role as Alex's ex-wife on the hit series Taxi and starred in the 1981–82 season of It's a Living, playing waitress Maggie McBurney.[4]

Lasser had a recurring role as Victor Erlich's Aunt Charise, a neurotic comic character on St. Elsewhere in the mid-1980s. Her 1980s film appearances included In God We Tru$t (1980), Crimewave (1985), Blood Rage (1987), Surrender (1987), Rude Awakening (1989), and as the mother of the main character in Sing (1989).[4]

Her 1990s films included Frankenhooker (1990), The Night We Never Met (1993), Sudden Manhattan (1996), Layin' Low (1996), and as the mother of the three main female characters in Todd Solondz's film Happiness. She appeared in Mystery Men (1999) as the mother of Hank Azaria's character. She also had a role in Darren Aronofsky's film Requiem for a Dream (2000), and co-starred with Renée Taylor in National Lampoon's Gold Diggers (2003). Lasser acted in 2 episodes of HBO's Girls as a Manhattan artist for the series' 3rd season (2014).[4]

She is currently a member of faculty at HB Studio, where she teaches acting technique.[citation needed]


  1. "Woody Allen: Rabbit Running". Time. July 3, 1972. 
  2. Peter Filichia (October 23, 2006). "Jeez, Louise". TheaterMania.com. 
  3. Louise Lasser Biography, Yahoo! Movies; accessed August 12, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Louise Lasser at the Internet Movie Database
  5. IMDB (2012). Saturday Night Live: Season 1, Episode 23 – Louise Lasser/Preservation Hall Jazz Band (1976).
  6. Claire, Barliant. "An Interview With Louise Lasser: TV, Depression, and SNL". The Toast. Retrieved 2015-01-17. 
  7. Hill, Doug; Weingrad, Jeff (2011). "14: When Do We Tape?". Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. Untreed Reads. ISBN 9781611872187. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 

External links