Estelle Parsons

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Estelle Margaret Zimroth (Parsons)

Birthplace: Lynn Hospital, Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Eben Parsons, Esq. and Elinor Ingebore Parsons
Wife of Private
Ex-wife of Richard Gehman
Mother of Private; Private and Private
Sister of Elaine Ruggles

Occupation: Actress, director, writer
Managed by: Kenneth Kwame Welsh, (C)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Estelle Parsons

Estelle Margaret Parsons (born November 20, 1927) is an American stage, film and television actress, Today Show television presenter, and occasional stage director. She received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). In 2004, Parsons was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

brief biography

From imdb

The charming, witty, and immeasurably gifted Estelle Parsons was born November 20, 1927 in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Elinor and Eben Parsons. She attended the Oak Grove School for Girls in Maine, and later graduated from Connecticut College in 1949. She worked as a singer with a band before she became the first Women's Editor on Today (1952). She left the program in 1955. her claim to fame was her Oscar-winning performance as Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). The following year, she garnered an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Rachel, Rachel (1968). On television, she is best remembered as Beverly Lorraine Harris, Roseanne and Jackie's zany, manipulative and pretentious mother on Roseanne (1988). In 2003, her character was honored with a TV Land Award for Favorite Classic TV In-Law. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Vario


  • parents: Eben Parsons, Elinor Ingeborg Mattsson
  • Spouse(s)
    • Richard Gehman (1953–1958; divorced); 2 children
    • Peter Zimroth (1983–present); 1 child

family trivia

She is a descendant of Gov. John Endicott. Her father owned his son's leather great chair

From STAGE TO SCREENS: Chats with Estelle Parsons, Mary McCormack and Bryan Batt By Michael Buckley 27 Jul 2008:

In a 2007 article that Parsons' daughter Abbie wrote, under the byline of A.G. Britton (who plans to expand the piece into a book on her mother), it's explained that the actress (who did not believe in researching roles) extensively researched Blanche Barrow, after Penn offered her the part of Clyde's sister-in-law — even down to discovering that the real Blanche wore English jodhpurs. (The ones Parsons wore for her Oscar-winning role came from wardrobe, and originally had been worn by Barbara Stanwyck in some Warner Bros. movie.)
"Eben (Britton) is the name of one of my grandsons. He's a six-foot-seven offensive linebacker, and weighs 300 pounds. He's supposed to go in the NFL next year." (Since Parsons seemingly can do anything, she may coach.)


Born November 20, 1927, in Lynn (one source says Marblehead), MA; daughter of Eben and Elinor (maiden name, Mattson) Parsons; married Richard Gehman (a writer), December 19, 1953 (divorced August, 1958); married Peter L. Zimroth (alawyer), January 2, 1983; children: (first marriage) Martha, Abbie (twins);(second marriage) Abraham (adopted). Addresses: Contact: 924 West EndAve., Suite T5, New York, NY 10025-3543.; Agent: Writers & Artists Agency, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Famous Works


Stage Appearances

  • Reporter, Happy Hunting, Majestic Theatre, New York City, 1956
  • Nightcap at the Showplace (also known as Jerry Herman's Nightcap), New York City, 1958
  • Whoop Up, 1958
  • Cleo, The Most Happy Fella, North Shore Music Festival, Beverly, MA, 1958
  • Demi-Dozen, Upstairs at the Downstairs, New York City, 1959
  • Pieces of Eight, Upstairs at the Downstairs, 1959
  • Ollie, Beg, Borrow, or Steal, Martin Beck Theatre, New York City,1960
  • Mrs. Coaxer, The Threepenny Opera, Theatre de Lys, New York City,1960
  • Mrs. Peachum, The Threepenny Opera, Los Angeles and San Francisco,CA, both 1960
  • Nellie Forbush, South Pacific, Chautaugua, NY, 1961
  • Lasca, The Automobile Graveyard, 41st Street Theatre, New York City, 1961
  • Put It in Writing, Royal Poinciana Playhouse, FL, 1962
  • Lula Roca, Hey You, Light Man!, Theatre by the Sea, Mantunuck, RI,1962
  • Mrs. Dally, Mrs. Dally Has a Lover, Cherry Lane Theatre, New YorkCity, 1962
  • Lizzie, Next Time I'll Sing to You, Phoenix Theatre, New York City, 1963
  • Hortense, Come to the Palace of Sin, Theatre de Lys, 1963
  • Gertrude Eastman-Cuevas, In the Summer House, Little Fox Theatre,New York City, 1964
  • Felicia, Ready When You Are, C. B., Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City, 1964
  • Major Barbara, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati, OH, 1965
  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park,1965
  • Mrs. Goldman, Suburban Tragedy (one-act play), and Shirley, Princess Rebecca Birnbaum (one-act play), both part of Monopoly, Stage 73 Theatre, New York City, 1965
  • Laureen, Malcolm, Shubert Theatre, New York City, 1966
  • Doris, The East Wind, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, NewYork City, 1967
  • Virginia, Galileo, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, 1967
  • Myrtle, The Seven Descents of Myrtle, Barrymore Theatre, New YorkCity, 1968
  • Honor and Offer, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 1968
  • Janice Krieger, A Way of Life, American National Theatre and Academy, New York City, 1969
  • Aase, Peer Gynt, Delacorte Theatre, New York City, 1969
  • Leocadia Begbick, Mahagonny, Anderson Theatre, New York City, 1970
  • Catherine Reardon, ... And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Morosco Theatre, New York City, 1971
  • Milly, People Are Living There, Forum Theatre, New York City, 1971
  • Oh Glorious Tintinnabulation, Actors Studio, New York City, 1974
  • Mert, Mert and Phil, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, 1974
  • The Norman Conquests, Morosco Theatre, 1975-1976
  • Edna Wrath, The Reason We Eat, Hartman Theatre, Stamford, CT, 1976
  • Dede Cooper, Ladies of the Alamo, Martin Beck Theatre, 1977
  • Miss Margarida, Miss Margarida's Way, Public Theatre, New York City, then Ambassador Theatre, New York City, 1977
  • Man Is Man, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1978
  • Martha, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Buffalo Studio Arena, Buffalo, NY, 1978
  • Ruth, The Pirates of Penzance, Uris (now Gershwin) Theatre, New York City, 1982
  • Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo (solo show), Public Theatre, 1983
  • Martha Mitchell, The Unguided Missile, American Place Theatre, NewYork City, 1989
  • Baba Goya, 1989
  • Denny, Shimada, Broadhurst Theatre, New York City, 1992
  • Extended Forecast, La MaMa, New York City, 1993
  • Felicity, The Shadow Box, Circle in the Square Uptown Theatre, NewYork City, 1994-1995
  • Deja Revue, McGinn/Cazale Theatre, New York City, 1995
  • Grace and Glorie, Roundabout Theatre, New York City, 1996
  • Winnie, Happy Days, Lincoln Center, 1996
  • Fannie Mae Gossett, The Last of the Thorntons, Signature Theater Company, New York City, 2000-2001
  • Cora Swanson, Mornings at Seven, Lyceum Theater, New York City, 2002
  • Also appeared in Forgiving Typhoid Mary, The Skin of Our Teeth, and Twice Removed.

Major Tours

  • Elizabeth Dale, A Sense of Humor, western U.S. cities, 1983-1984

Stage Work

  • Director, Voices, St. Clement's Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Director, Antony and Cleopatra, Interart Theatre, New York City, 1979
  • Codirector, Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo (solo show), Public Theatre, New York City, 1983
  • Director, Salome: The Reading, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, 2003

Film Appearances

  • JoAnn's mother, Ladybug, Ladybug, United Artists, 1963
  • Blanche, Bonnie and Clyde, Warner Bros., 1967
  • Calla Mackie, Rachel, Rachel, Warner Bros., 1968
  • Marion Hollander, Don't Drink the Water, Avco-Embassy, 1969
  • Althea Gerber, Watermelon Man (also known as The Night the Sun Came Out), Columbia, 1970
  • Ellen Haney, I Walk the Line, Columbia, 1970
  • Alice, I Never Sang for My Father, Columbia, 1970
  • Barbara Newman, Two People, Universal, 1973
  • Helen, For Pete's Sake (also known as July Pork Bellies), Columbia, 1974
  • First lady/barmaid, Foreplay (also known as The President's Women), Cinema National, 1975
  • Mrs. Kupchak, The Lemon Sisters, Miramax, 1990
  • Mrs. Trueheart, Dick Tracy, Buena Vista, 1990
  • Louise the psychic, Boys on the Side, Warner Bros., 1995
  • Queen Margaret, Looking for Richard, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 1996
  • Old Lady McCracken, That Darn Cat, Buena Vista, 1997

Television Appearances


  • Today girl and commentator, The Today Show, NBC, 1953-1954
  • Host and interviewer, Mothers by Daughters, PBS, 1985
  • Beverly "Bev" Harris, a recurring role, Roseanne, ABC, 1989-1997


  • Arlene Glynn, Terror on the Beach, 1973
  • Sadie Underwood, The Gun and the Pulpit, 1974
  • Betty Hill, The UFO Incident (also known as Interrupted Journey), 1975
  • Edwina, Big Henry and the Polka Dot Kid, 1976
  • Marjorie Seebode, The Gentleman Bandit (also known as The Bandit Priest), 1981
  • Mrs. O'Connell, Guests of the Nation, 1981
  • Clare Block, Open Admissions, CBS, 1988
  • Matty Jennings, Everyday Heroes, 1990
  • Mary Chessen, A Private Matter (also known as Miss Sherri and The Sherri Finkbine Story), HBO, 1992
  • Older Doris, "The American Clock" (also known as "Arthur Miller's The American Clock"), TNT Screenworks, TNT, 1993
  • Mrs. Stanapolous, Freak City, Showtime, 1999


  • Bess Truman, Backstairs at the Whitehouse, NBC, 1979


  • Carrie Bernice, "The Gambling Heart," The DuPont Show of the Week,1964
  • "Where There's Smoke," The Nurses, 1965
  • "Alarums and Excursions," The Trials of O'Brien, 1966
  • "Wall of Silence," Medical Center, 1972
  • "Love and the Return of Raymond," Love, American Style, 1972
  • Dolores Mancheney, "Archie's Secret Passion," All in the Family, CBS, 1976
  • Blanche Hefner, "Reunion on Hauser Street," All in the Family, CBS, 1978
  • Blanche Hefner, "Weekend in the Country," All in the Family, CBS,1978
  • Blanche Hefner, "Blanche and Murray," Archie Bunker's Place, 1979
  • Mrs. "Lovey" Howell, Roseanne, ABC, 1994
  • Jennette, "Sandcastles," Touched by an Angel, CBS, 1997
  • Esther O'Neill, "The Fix," 100 Centre Street, Arts and Entertainment, 2001
  • Rose Rinato, "Denial," Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: S.V.U.), NBC and USA Network, 2002
  • Also appeared in Faith for Today, ABC and syndicated; and The Verdict Is Yours, CBS.


  • Mabel Lederer/Angela Motorman, Come along with Me, PBS, 1982


  • The 40th Annual Academy Awards, 1968
  • Hemingway's Spain: A Love Affair, 1969
  • Mollie Malloy, The Front Page, 1970
  • Agnes, A Memory of Two Mondays, PBS, 1974
  • Lucille Sears, June Moon, PBS, 1974
  • That Was the Year That Was, NBC, 1976
  • Today at 40, NBC, 1992
  • The Gospel According to Jesus, Cinemax, 1995
  • Beatrice Corrigan, "The Love Letter," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS,1998
  • The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998

Television Work


  • Production assistant, then feature producer, The Today Show, NBC,1952-1953



Features for Series

  • The Today Show, NBC, 1952-1953

Further Reference



  • American Theatre, July/August, 1996, p. 10
  • Back Stage, June 11, 1993, p. 40; November 25, 1994, p. 39; July 26, 1996, p. 44
  • Back Stage West, August 1, 1996, p. 7

Trivia: Her grandson, Eben Britton, is an offensive lineman for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL.

See also

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Estelle Parsons's Timeline

November 20, 1927
Lynn Hospital, Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States