Many of the articles are from clippings that do not feature the name of the publication or of the writer in some cases. I have included this information wherever available.
This Is the Place, The Country Says of Mary Kay, the Slick Hick on “Mary Hartman”
By Robert Windeler
When ballplayers sniff stardom, they declare themselves free agents. When TV performers make it, they cut an LP. Telly Savalas perpetrated Who Loves Ya Baby, soap queen Mary Stuart did Don’t Look Back, and now comes the album Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers, by Mary Kay Place, who plays that Job-like foil to the heroine in “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” This time, though, the result is not the usual self-indulgent waxy buildup in the record racks. Mary Kay is a natural-born Jill of all trades, and both the LP and its big single, “Baby Boy,” are irresistible instant hits on the country charts.
Marvels “Mary Hartman” creator Norman Lear: “If Mary Kay told me she could build the Brooklyn Bridge in Palm Springs, I’d believe her—there’s nothing she can’t do.” To be sure, just eight years ago she was one of Lear’s production secretaries. Now, at 29, she is an established writer (her first “M*A*S*H” script was an Emmy-nominee) as well as a rising singer-actress playing opposite Robert DeNiro and Liza Minnelli in the upcoming New York, New York. “She’s done it all,” says Lear, “in probably a record amount of time.”
He’s not the only person in town who takes Place seriously. Back-up voices on her first album include virtuoso volunteers Dolly Parton, Anne Murray, and Emmylou Harris, no less. And the musicians? “Just fellas,” kids Mary Kay. Actually, they’re Emmylou’s rightly named Hot Band, some of whom also tour with Elvis Presley. In explaining her seemingly too-much, too-soon career rise, Mary Kay cracks, “I have a very limited attention span.”
She’s an Okie but not one to get stuck in Muskogee. Mary Kay spent her first 21 years in Tulsa among folks from whom she borrowed many of Loretta Haggers’ mannerisms. Her dad, currently head of the University of Tulsa’s art department, contributed the country patois. He’s a CB freak whose handle is “Big Nasty.” Mom, (who says, “I’m proud of what Mary Kay’s doin’ but it’s no more important than what anyone else is doin’”) is an elementary school teacher who waggles her forefinger in conversation—a Loretta mannerism. A cousin from Abilene, where Mary Kay used to summer, was the origin of her TV expression, “Well now, sugar, I’ll tell you something…” Place was not a totally detached observer of her youth. She was a cheerleader for the Nathan Hale High School Rangers. Then, after majoring in drama at the U of Tulsa (where she learned to soften her twang), Mary Kay set off for Hollywood, “never doubting I would be involved in this business.” She was first cast as Fleegle the Dog on a local TV kiddie show, but had no stomach for “running around town with a grocery bag of 8x10 glossies like some starlet” and getting into “a lot of casting couch hassles.” So she wound up a secretary on the “Maude” set, and after reading and typing “a million scripts and finding a lot of them not that funny, I figured out how to do it myself.”
By then, she says, “It was feasible for women to write,” and, with collaborator Linda Bloodworth, she scored on the prestigious Lear and MTM series as well as on a Lily Tomlin special. Mary Kay first got onto the other side of the camera co-composing a song with which she serenaded Archie Bunker. The title: “If Communism Comes A-Knockin’ at Your Door, Don’t Answer [It].” I think I went into acting,” she cracks, “because writing is the hardest thing in the world.” Right now, though, she’s working on her first solo script. “It’s about a woman growing up in the area I did,” she says. “The women’s coming-of-age stories I know about all have the girl in prep school somewhere, and I don’t even know anybody who went to prep school.”
“The busier I get,” declares Mary Kay, “the more homebody I get.” Which means that these days she yearns for some time with her pooch, Wanda Nell, in their modest rented house in West Hollywood. She’s been looking to buy, Place notes, except that in L.A. “you can’t get a matchbox for under $5 million.” Her man for the last six months, so far not live-in, is writer-director Bill Norton. “He’s helped me preserve my sanity since the summer, when everything started to happen at once,” says Mary Kay. “Marriage is an institution I support and children are something that interest me, but I would like things to slow down a bit before I get into any of that. I have fanatical ideas about child raising and discipline, and I want to be sure I’m going to be able to be around enough to carry them out.”
There’s another substitute source of comfort right now—her circle of professional friends, whom Place describes as “the up-and-coming producers and writers mainly, not the little Hollywood starlets. We’ve all been together since we were secretaries and mail boys, and now we all seem to be on the verge of making it.” Then, with a finality that should chill the old order, Renaissance lady Place concludes, with a sweet smile and a soft twang: “We’ve been driven and inspired by our friends in the business, but we’re also stimulated by negative example. When you see the people who have the real power in this town, then you realize there’s no limit to what you can do.”
Mary Kay Place–the brain in her head!
Mary Kay Place may play that daffy dum-dum, “Loretta,” on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” but she’ll have you know she is far from a dummie off the tube.
As a matter of fact, when a recent interviewer chatted with Mary Kay a couple of hours and, after the interview was over, complimented the rising star on being “much brighter” than he had originally suspected, Mary blushed a deep, beet red–and then confessed that’s been a problem all her life:
“I once had a journalism teacher back in Oklahoma, a Mrs. Elson,” she said. “She was aggressive and wonderful and she wrote me off the first day I was in class as a cheerleader, a rah-rah-rah Susie Creamcheese. She started giving me trouble and that got my back up. But then she and I became good friends later. I was bound and determined, you see, to prove to her that you could be a cheerleader and still have a brain in your head…and be interesting as well!”
We’re sure lots of current—and former—cheerleaders will find Mary Kay’s comments not only “interesting”—but downright “intellectual” as well!
“Mary Hartman’s” Mary Kay Place
– her singing’s no joke!
Mary Kay Place, who plays “Mary Hartman’s” “Southern-fried” friend, “Loretta Haggers,” on the popular syndicated soap opera, sets the record straight about her pop country singing on the show. It seems a number of Mary Kay’s fans began to notice that the 29-year-old actress-song and script writer’s voice was improving as the series progressed and were wondering if maybe they were losing their minds right along with “Mary Hartman.” But Miss Place puts all rumors to rest when she states: “I’ve been singing better since the early shows because bad singing is strictly a one-time joke and can get awfully irritating to the audience.” Right on, Mary Kay. And we might add Miss Place’s improved singing on the “Mary Hartman” set has paid off with Columbia Records recently signing her to a recording contract. No “sour note” that!
Mary Kay Place: Unwelcome in Beverly Hills!
Being a star is not as glamorous as it often looks—even when the star is Mary Kay Place, who gets to play the always “glamorous” Loretta Haggers on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
Off the screen, Mary Kay must admit she occasionally has a bit of a problem with her own personal glamour. “When I’m wearing sweat pants and socks and look like a creep,” reveals Ms. Place, “I can be sure that someone will come up to me and say: ‘Aren’t you Loretta Haggers?’ But when I’m seeking recognition, then no one knows me!
“Like the other day—my car conked out in Beverly Hills and nobody would let me into their house to phone for help. I went to one home where the guy had three Cadillacs in the driveway. I told him who I was and that I had an important engagement in the Dinah Shore show that day. So what did he say? He told me his phone was ‘out of order!’ I had to walk for blocks to a gas station!”
So much for all the advantages of “stardom,” Beverly Hills style…
Mary Kay Place: She’s “The Real Thing”!
“I find it difficult to cry on cue,” says Mary Kay Place, the actress who plays “Loretta Haggers” on TV’s “Mary Hartman” and who also does a lot of crying in New York, New York when Robert DeNiro leaves her for the charms of Liza Minnelli. “Well, they had to shoot the scene several times and I just didn’t have any tears left. Then I remembered one time reading that Valerie Perrine faked crying in Lenny because her tears had dried up. I faked it too—and I’m certain that no one will be able to tell the difference from the real thing!” At least not in Hollywood, Mary Kay, where “real emotion” is about as rare as, say, a “real person.”
Mary Kay Place-Moving into the Top Spot
“Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” star has become a recording sensation as well as a movie star in New York, New York with Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro
Mary Kay Place started out a few years ago in Hollywood as a secretary at Tandem Productions, the producers who put out “Mary Hartman (2)” as well as “All in the Family” and other top-rated shows. She shortly thereafter moved up to a writer and then co-star status in the hit soap opera spoof.
“Loretta is nicer than I am,” concedes Mary, who portrays country-western singer Loretta Haggers on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” But adds Mary quickly, “I am a lot smarter and not as naïve.” Ms. Place was born in Tulsa and attended the University of Oklahoma. She shares, with her character Loretta, a rural background and a strong faith in God. And also that love of country music.
She has written all of the music for Loretta’s songs on the series as well as many of the lyrics. She has co-written episodes of “M*A*S*H” and the “Mary Tyler Moore” show, and is not working on a screenplay.
She is a feminist, and a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. Mary Kay is for the ERA because she believes in equality for all. The ERA may affect areas we don’t even know about now. The most basic issue is equal pay for equal work. Mary Kay knows plenty of bright women at home in Oklahoma who work for practically nothing. She also feels the credit laws will be changed because of the constitutional amendment. Nonetheless, some women are frightened that the ERA might mean they will be drafted, or that the family institution will be threatened. Of course that isn’t true. Even if women were drafted, they would probably enjoy the military as much as their Israeli sisters. Mary Kay feels that some women will still stay home while others will go out to work.
Her new record album, Tonite! At the Capri Lounge: Loretta Haggers is an album she made despite the knowledge that the record people were after her because of her fame from the series. “Baby Boy” the song from “MH2” starts the album off on a humorous note, but it soon becomes obvious that Mary Kay is serious about the LP. She practices her singing in the car, in the bedroom, in the bathtub—you name it, she sings there!
In New York, New York she sings four songs, one in a duet with DeNiro. Although Mary Kay does not want to spoil the fun for us “MH2” watchers by saying what’s in the plot this season, she does admit that we might see some more success in Loretta’s career. This year we will certainly see more success in the career of Mary Kay Place.
Mary Kay Place:
She shot to stardom as Loretta Haggers on the TV show “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and its successor, “Forever Fernwood,” but now she’s making it big in the country music field.
After three years as country singer Loretta Haggers on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and “Forever Fernwood,” Mary Kay Place is leaving television to pursue a music career. She got the role of Loretta after producer Norman Lear heard her sing an original composition, “If Communism Comes Knockin’ At Your Door, Don’t Answer It,” on “All In The Family.”
“Baby Boy” is the country/western hit single that launched Loretta’s career on the show, and the recording offers poured in! Her first album was called Tonite! At the Capri Lounge: Loretta Haggers and her second album, Aimin’ to Please, is doing nicely on c/w charts.
Mary Kay grew up in Oklahoma listening to country music and singing it, too, but at first she was afraid to be in front of an audience. She managed to sing as Loretta, and then she learned to relax and sing as Mary Kay. When a friend introduced her to Brian Ahern, producer for country giants Emmylou Harris and Anne Murray, Mary Kay’s recording career began to take off.
“Brian believed in me and encouraged me to record. Emmylou’s band backed me up on the session. They played like they backed me every night,” she said. Mary Kay’s career blossomed and she co-starred with Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli in New York, New York. After filming her last episode of “Fernwood” in February, Mary Kay began touring with a band and making personal singing appearances. Watch for her in your area!
May 30, 1977
They became kissin’ colleagues when Dolly Parton sang back-up for Mary Kay Place’s debut LP, Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers. So when the touring Nashville monument laid over in L.A. lately, the Tulsa-born “Mary Hartman” second banana was on hand to give her a big Oklahoma hello. Although both are into crossovers these days—Parton into more pop-based music, and Place into moving pictures—Dolly is not about to dress down for the image switcheroo. “I’m not gonna wear some chic gown and stylish hairdo,” whoops Parton. “That would be like seein’ Liberace in overalls and combat boots.”
TV Star Annual Magazine
If you’ve got the PLACE, MARY KAY’S got the time!
Better known as “Loretta Haggers: on the never-a-dull-moment “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” series, Mary Kay Place is involved in enough projects to probably fill and satisfy the lives of three people! From TV acting (she has also appeared in such series as “All in the Family,” “M*A*S*H,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”), to film acting (Bound for Glory—the Woody Guthrie story, and New York, New York, a Martin Scorsese film), to script writing (for television series; “Rhoda,” “Phyllis,” “Maude,” to name a few), and to music (she recently released an album on Columbia entitled Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers), Mary Kay is a woman who must detest sitting around doing nothing, as much as most us dislike not having free time to do just that! It looks like Mary will continue to be active; she’s already thinking of the next project—to record another album; this time as Mary Kay Place and not Loretta Haggers.
“The next one’s going to be Mary Kay…without the wig!” she promises.
Country Music Magazine
Saturday Night’s Alright for Spoofin’—Willie and Mary Kay Country-Up TV
Leave it to Willie Nelson to find some new turf to conquer. After capturing Austin, Nashville, and most of the rest of the country, what could be more appropriate than late-night television? So Willie sneaked into New York last December for a spot on NBC’s “Saturday Night” show. Guest hostess was none other than Mary Kay Place a Willie fan from way back and his most recent duet partner. Willie sounded [sic], doing “Whiskey River” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” as well as joining Mary Kay for “Something to Brag About.” Afterwards, they retired to the Lone Star Café, where Willie played until it was time to close up the honky tonks. A good time was had by all.