Renowned stage and screen actress Mary McDonnell graced East Coast stages for two decades before getting her major screen breakthrough in Dances with Wolves (1990). Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on April 28, 1952, McDonnell was raised in Ithaca, New York, and graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia. After a few seasons in regional repertory, she established herself on Broadway with such successful 1980s plays as The Heidi Chronicles. She made her film debut in 1984's Garbo Talks; three years later, she was showered with critical adulation for her portrayal of mining town landlady Elma Radnor in director John Sayles' Matewan. Further adulation and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination followed for McDonnell's portrayal of Stands with a Fist, a white woman raised by the Lakota Sioux, in Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves (1990). One year later, she starred in the PBS "American Playhouse" dramatization of Willa Cather's O Pioneers!, and also did starring work as the wife of an immigration attorney (Kevin Kline) in Lawrence Kasdan's acclaimed Grand Canyon. Her film career has continued with roles in films big and small, ranging from Sayles' excellent Passion Fish (1992) to the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day to Kasdan's Mumford (1999), which cast McDonnell as a dissatisfied housewife with a mail order catalog obsession.