Mary McCormack

Active - 1994 - 2020  |   Born - Feb 8, 1969 in Plainfield, New Jersey, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Seemingly coming out of nowhere to essay the difficult role of famed shock-jock Howard Stern's wife in 1997's autobiographical Private Parts, actress Mary McCormack has since gone on to offer memorable performances in such fare as Mystery, Alaska (1999) and K-PAX (2001). A native of Plainfield, NJ, McCormack's interest in performing was piqued at an early age when the aspiring, 12-year-old actress gender-bent her way through a production of Menotti's Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. Since none of the local boys possessed the necessary vocal abilities, McCormack donned a hat and hit the notes needed to carry the play. Subsequently performing in regional theater before continuing her education at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, it was there that McCormack would major in English and painting while continuing to hone her stage skills. After earning her Comparative Arts degree from Trinity, McCormack decided to further her acting career by studying at the William Esper Studio. Performances at such New York theaters as The Atlantic Theater Company were quick to follow, as was her film debut in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Simultaneously appearing on the small screen in the popular crime series Murder One (1995), it wasn't long before Private Parts would offer a stratospheric boost to her onscreen career. A cinematic love letter to Stern's real-life wife, Private Parts offered the burgeoning actress a complex emotional role that proved without a doubt what she was fully capable of. Follow-up roles in such high-profile fare as Deep Impact (1998) and Mystery, Alaska (1999) didn't quite offer McCormack the chance to shine that Private Parts did, though it was obvious to all who viewed her subsequent roles that her star was on the rise. The millennial turnover found McCormack successfully alternating between drama (Madison) and comedy (High Heels and Low Lifes) before once again heading the Hollywood route with a supporting performance in K-PAX. An unconventional role in director Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal was quick to follow, and McCormack was soon beginning preparation for the television miniseries based on Soderbergh's Traffic (which was in turn inspired by 1989 U.K. series Traffik).

She was the female lead in the creepy apocalyptic thriller Right at Your Door, and landed a small part in Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration. In 2008 she landed the lead role on the cable series In Plain Sight and enjoyed the most consistent success of her career.

Movie Highlights

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  • At age 12, she made her stage debut playing a boy in a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.
  • Studied acting at William Esper Studio in New York.
  • Made her feature-film debut in 1994's A Miracle on 34th Street.
  • Breakout movie performance was in 1997's Private Parts, playing Howard Stern's wife.
  • Performed for three New York theaters: the Atlantic Theatre Company, Alice's 4th Floor and Naked Angels.
  • Acted with her brother, Will McCormack, in the 1997 independent film comedy Colin Fitz.
  • Her Tony-nominated turn as Gretchen in the 2008 play Boeing-Boeing drew praise from the New York Times for her "glorious Olympian strut" and "take-no-prisoners stance."
  • During her run as Mary Shannon on the cable crime drama,  In Plain Sight, her character's pregnancy was written into the story. "It's nice I think for women to see an actual pregnant person on TV," she explained; she gave birth to her third daugter in 2011.