Louise Lasser, Louise Lasser

Louise Lasser will be known for two major things.

One, she was Mary Hartman on the soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. While the Norman Lear show lasted for only over a year with Louise, it is still considered a classic cult television program, helping launch the career of Martin Mull.

The show evolved into Fernwood Forever and then Fernwood 2-Nite eventually American 2-Nite. The latter two were a parody of the talk show format many years before David Letterman.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was known for its extreme deaths such as drowning in chicken soup and being impaled on an aluminum Christmas tree. It was the kind of dark humor 1970s television audiences were not used to.

The second thing is that Louise was married Woody Allen for four years, back when when he made funny films.  She appeared in Take the Money and Run, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But We're Afraid to Ask) and Bananas, and you can hear her voice with the others in the bizarre but hilarious What's Up, Tiger Lily.  Some consider these the best of the Woody Allen catalogue.

After their marriage, Louise was sexually attacked.  On learning about this, Woody Allen was asked about Louise's violation.  He quipped, “I bet it wasn't a moving violation.”

Currently she teaches acting technique at HB Studio.

Here you can see some of the very first episode of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Before Desperate Housewives… Before Soap… Before most actual soap operas became parodies of themselves, Norman Lear's Mary Hartman was the first show to lampoon soap operas. It seems a bit slow and dry now, but there's no denying how smart and funny it is. And when's the last time you saw a character on a soap opera actually watching a soap opera.

And to prove that nothing on television ever really goes away, yes, the next-door neighbor is Mary Kay Ash, who is now playing Brian's mother on The New Normal.


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