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The Curious Case of Marsha Mason


sewhite2000
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Last night's mini-marathon of Marsha Mason-starring movies scripted by her then-husband Neil Simon got me thinking about this actress.  I would say she's virtually forgotten today, but she was clearly insanely loved by her peers back in the day - she received four Best Actress Oscar nominations in eight years, the last three all coming for Simon-scripted roles in just a four-year period. Following the three films written by Simon featured last night, she made one more with him, 1983's MAX DUGAN RETURNS (I assume not being shown during the month-long Simon tribute because it's a Fox film) and then had only one more leading role in her film career opposite Clint Eastwood in 1986's HEARTBREAK RIDGE. According to imdb, she appeared in only seven more films between 1987 and 2004 - all of them supporting parts - and hasn't been in a theatrical film since then, though she has worked frequently on television. She's now just about to turn 73.

 

I'm not sure how many other four-time Oscar nominees have so completely disappeared from the public consciousness. Her split with Simon may have been what she wanted in her personal life, but it seems to have almost instantly ended her days of movie stardom. Virtually no one else ever wanted in a leading role again.

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Last night's mini-marathon of Marsha Mason-starring movies scripted by her then-husband Neil Simon got me thinking about this actress.  I would say she's virtually forgotten today, but she was clearly insanely loved by her peers back in the day - she received four Best Actress Oscar nominations in eight years, the last three all coming for Simon-scripted roles in just a four-year period. Following the three films written by Simon featured last night, she made one more with him, 1983's MAX DUGAN RETURNS (I assume not being shown during the month-long Simon tribute because it's a Fox film) and then had only one more leading role in her film career opposite Clint Eastwood in 1986's HEARTBREAK RIDGE. According to imdb, she appeared in only seven more films between 1987 and 2004 - all of them supporting parts - and hasn't been in a theatrical film since then, though she has worked frequently on television. She's now just about to turn 73.

 

I'm not sure how many other four-time Oscar nominees have so completely disappeared from the public consciousness. Her split with Simon may have been what she wanted in her personal life, but it seems to have almost instantly ended her days of movie stardom. Virtually no one else ever wanted in a leading role again.

  THE CURIOUS CASE OF MARSHA MASON

Does she age progress backwards?

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Last night's mini-marathon of Marsha Mason-starring movies scripted by her then-husband Neil Simon got me thinking about this actress.  I would say she's virtually forgotten today, but she was clearly insanely loved by her peers back in the day - she received four Best Actress Oscar nominations in eight years, the last three all coming for Simon-scripted roles in just a four-year period. Following the three films written by Simon featured last night, she made one more with him, 1983's MAX DUGAN RETURNS (I assume not being shown during the month-long Simon tribute because it's a Fox film) and then had only one more leading role in her film career opposite Clint Eastwood in 1986's HEARTBREAK RIDGE. According to imdb, she appeared in only seven more films between 1987 and 2004 - all of them supporting parts - and hasn't been in a theatrical film since then, though she has worked frequently on television. She's now just about to turn 73.

 

I'm not sure how many other four-time Oscar nominees have so completely disappeared from the public consciousness. Her split with Simon may have been what she wanted in her personal life, but it seems to have almost instantly ended her days of movie stardom. Virtually no one else ever wanted in a leading role again.

I wondered about that as well, sewhite2000.  Was it by choice, or did the parts just dry up?  My favorite of the three was Only When I Laugh, as I liked her in a rougher-edged role.  Well, maybe one day all will be revealed. 

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Interesting thread. I think some performers are simply a product of their times. After their generation gets older, and it's another generation's turn, they are pushed off to the side. That's one of the hard realities of the entertainment industry. So unless she became a sought-after supporting player or character actress willing to do memorable cameos-- she fades from view. 

 

If she had stayed married to Neil Simon, her work as a lead in high profile pictures may have continued longer than it did. We can say the same about Mia Farrow, whose film career dropped off significantly when she broke up with Woody Allen.

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She is one helluvan actress....both dramatically and comedically. She's one of those "I know it's Marsha Mason in a role, but I still believe her" as we're voyeuristically watching her in real life situations.

 

Ah, aging is a tragedy. Glad her talent is captured on film.

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It may be that she wished to square the curve. Aging actresses typically are cast into smaller and smaller roles until they disappear. It may be that she wished to leave the industry while her name was still in main credits.

 

It may be also that she found the work/reward ratio for movies to be higher than she liked at her age. Many television roles can be done in a few days while movies require longer time with occasional days with no scenes to perform.

 

I like her very much in the roles which I have seen. It is sad to say that I doubt she would be able to top any of those performances and it remains very true that you care only as good as your last role.

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Do you mean square the circle?

 

Begin at zero and wax to peak and then wane to zero. "To square the curve" means to take graphed line to zero instantly rather than suffering slow deterioration.

 

It could be a circle only if one believes in reincarnation. ;)

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I was not familiar with Marsha Mason's film work until the recent Neil Simon spotlight on TCM, but when I was watching something about her looked familar to me.

 

After a little research I discovered that she was the actor who played Martin Crane's girlfriend Sherry on a few episodes of the TV series FRASIER. Frasier and Niles found her annoying but pretended to like her because Martin loved her.  

Ep81.jpg

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She was really good in that role and was good in the Neil Simon's movies that aired on TCM.

I saw parts of CHAPTER TWO and ONLY WHEN I LAUGH.

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I first developed a "crush" on Ms. Mason when I saw 1973's CINDERELLA LIBERTY .  Thought she had one of the more LUMINOUS smiles among all her contemporaries, and she STILL has a very nice smile, as I AM a regular fan of the TV show THE MIDDLE, and occaisionally do see her on that show( but, NOT enough for ME).  The worst movie I ever sat through, and mostly because she was IN it, was a stupid attempt at comedy/fantasy called DROP DEAD FRED cast as Phoebe Cates' mother.  My wife LOVED that dumb flick for some reason.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Last night's mini-marathon of Marsha Mason-starring movies scripted by her then-husband Neil Simon got me thinking about this actress.  I would say she's virtually forgotten today, but she was clearly insanely loved by her peers back in the day - she received four Best Actress Oscar nominations in eight years, the last three all coming for Simon-scripted roles in just a four-year period. Following the three films written by Simon featured last night, she made one more with him, 1983's MAX DUGAN RETURNS (I assume not being shown during the month-long Simon tribute because it's a Fox film) and then had only one more leading role in her film career opposite Clint Eastwood in 1986's HEARTBREAK RIDGE. According to imdb, she appeared in only seven more films between 1987 and 2004 - all of them supporting parts - and hasn't been in a theatrical film since then, though she has worked frequently on television. She's now just about to turn 73.

 

I'm not sure how many other four-time Oscar nominees have so completely disappeared from the public consciousness. Her split with Simon may have been what she wanted in her personal life, but it seems to have almost instantly ended her days of movie stardom. Virtually no one else ever wanted in a leading role again.

MAX DUGAN RETURNS was great film. It's weird. I thought she was very good, yet she owes much of her career to nepotism. (Neil Simon)

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I first developed a "crush" on Ms. Mason when I saw 1973's CINDERELLA LIBERTY .  Thought she had one of the more LUMINOUS smiles among all her contemporaries, and she STILL has a very nice smile, as I AM a regular fan of the TV show THE MIDDLE, and occaisionally do see her on that show( but, NOT enough for ME).  The worst movie I ever sat through, and mostly because she was IN it, was a stupid attempt at comedy/fantasy called DROP DEAD FRED cast as Phoebe Cates' mother.  My wife LOVED that dumb flick for some reason.

 

 

Sepiatone

Funny, I also had a "crush" on Marsha Mason back in the 70's, probably also because of the luminosity factor that you mention. But I never thought much of her movies.  No particular reason, just gut instinct.

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The worst movie I ever sat through, and mostly because she was IN it, was a stupid attempt at comedy/fantasy called DROP DEAD FRED cast as Phoebe Cates' mother.  My wife LOVED that dumb flick for some reason.

 

The late Rik Mayall in DDF gives perhaps the worst "comedy" performance in history

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