Louise Lasser is an actress best known for playing the titular role on the late-1970s soap-opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She was also married to Woody Allen for several years during the early part of his career, leading to her appearing in such films as Take the Money and Run and Bananas. Though Louise has managed to keep it together over the years, she’s dealt with a lot in her life. Having had a tough upbringing, she has actually been able to use the trauma of her childhood to help her out in her acting career. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Louise Lasser let her personal trauma show on-screen.
Louise Lasser Couldn’t Save Her Mom
Louise Lasser was born in New York City on April 11, 1939. Her father was Jewish, while her mother was not. This caused a culture clash of sorts in the household, and the future star’s parents never really got along. Louise was taught by her mother to shun her Jewish heritage, and it wouldn’t be until she was much older that the actress would finally come to embrace that part of herself. Louise father was an accountant by the name of Sol Jay Lasser who made a modest name for himself during the 1970s and 1980s with a series of books he published dubbed Everyone’s Income Tax Guide. Of course, by this time period, Louise Lasser would also be making a name for herself, as well.
As established, Louise’s parents were not happy, and their problems only got worse and worse as Louise was growing up. The issue came to a head in 1961, when her mother attempted suicide. This attempt would’ve been bad enough, but the event was made even more traumatic by the fact that it was Louise herself who caught her mother in the act. Louise thwarted her mother’s suicide attempt, but she didn’t receive much of a reward for it. The future star’s mother was absolutely furious that her daughter hadn’t allowed her to die, and spent her remaining time on earth abusing her for it. In 1964, Louise’s mother finally accomplished what her daughter had prevented her from accomplishing years prior.
Upon the suicide of her mother in 1964, Louise was devastated. However, she kept moving on with her life. Several decades later, Louise’s father would follow in her mother’s footsteps by taking his own life. By this point, Louise was such an expert at dealing with traumatic situations that she was barely affected. Upon the future star’s coming of age, Louise decided that she wanted to study political science. She ended up doing so for three years at Brandeis University, all the while moonlighting as a singer in coffee shops around Greenwich Village.
Louise Decided to Drop Out of College
It was during her college years that Louise Lasser became increasingly passionate about performing. It had always been obvious that the young woman had a gift for keeping all eyes on her. After three years of studying, Louise decided that she’s rather become a star than a political scientist. She got a notable break when she was given the chance to perform as Barbra Streisand’s understudy in a Broadway musical by the name of I Can Get It for You Wholesale. Around the same time that this was happening, she began appearing on television via commercials, as well as via a small role on the popular soap opera The Doctors.
In the early 1960s, when Louise was an aspiring performer in the New York City art scene dealing with her suicidal mother and trying to decide whether or not she wanted to continue studying political science, she met Woody Allen. At the time, Woody Allen was nowhere near the mainstream celebrity that he would become, but he was on his way.
Louise Lasser and Woody Allen Were Married
Louise and Woody first met in 1961, though Woody was married to his first wife at the time. Because of this, the two didn’t become romantically involved until a few years later. Woody divorced first wife Harlene Rosen in 1962, having married her in 1956. After the divorce, Woody gradually began romantically pursuing Louise, and they were married in 1966. Sadly, their marriage would be even more short-lived than Woody’s first, though there was no bad blood.
Despite the fact that Louise Lasser and Woody Allen were only married from 1966 to 1970, the two worked together a lot and have had a considerable impact on each other’s lives. Woody gave Louise many or her earliest memorable acting role, with her having appeared in the writer/director’s films Take the Money and Run and Bananas. Louise even did voice work in Woody’s directorial debut, which was the ironically dubbed novelty film What’s Up Tiger Lily?
According to Louise, Woody Allen helped her find her own comedic voice. Following their divorce, Louise’s comedic talents would go on to make her a star in her own right thanks to a memorable television role that she would secure for herself in the mid-1970s. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Louise Found Breakout Success in the 1970s
Over the course of the early 1970s, Louise Lasser could be seen all over. She was in films like Such Good Friends and Slither, and she also appeared on such notable television programs as The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. However, it wouldn’t be until 1976 that the actress received the role that would go on to turn her into a household name. That would be the titular role in the soap-opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which aired from January of 1976 to July of 1977. The show took it’s job as a soap-opera parody seriously, airing for five nights a week and yielding well over 300 episodes by the time that it’s two seasons were up. The series became an instant sensation and turned Louise into an icon overnight.
One of the producers of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was Norman Lear, and he has claimed that the series was created with Louise Lasser in mind. According to him, Mary’s first reading of the material nearly brought tears to his eyes. The character of Mary Hartman was meant to be neurotic, with the character having a nervous breakdown by the end of the first season. Of course, with the entire trauma that Louise had experienced in her life, it wasn’t hard for her to act the part. Louise had a big influence on how the character of Mary was written. Though the character was always intended to be neurotic, it was actually Louise’s idea to have the character go through a nervous breakdown.
Real Life Bled Into Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
The first thing that went wrong in Louise’s life during the filming of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is that she was arrested for carrying a miniscule amount of cocaine. The actress was subsequently forced to undergo counseling, though she claimed the substance had been given to her by a fan a few months prior and she had forgotten about it. Mary had actually been arrested after making a scene at a charity auction, where she had refused to leave with a dollhouse that she had her eyes on. It wasn’t until searching the actress’s bags after the arrest that the police found the cocaine. The incident occurred in the spring of 1976, and it would later be parodied on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
Louise was able to laugh the cocaine incident off, and it didn’t have much of an effect on her Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman fame. A few months later, Louise would suffer another embarrassing incident when she was allegedly banned from Saturday Night Live. Early in the show’s run, Louise was brought on to host the second-to-last episode of the first season. From the outside looking in, the appearance was a success. However, it was later revealed that Louise had made a fuss behind the scenes. According to the actress, she had been told she was going to be able to write her own material. When she realized this wasn’t the case, she decided that she didn’t want to perform in several of the skits that had been written for her because they were crude.
Was Louise Banned from SNL?
Many believe Louise was banned from Saturday Night Live, but the actress claims this isn’t the case. According to her, the episode she appeared on never played in reruns because her manager had kindly asked NBC never to play it again because he didn’t like the way it made Louise look. In 1977, Louise quit Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman because she couldn’t take the demanding filming schedule anymore. With that, the iconic show came to an end after two seasons.
The Actress Harnessed Her Trauma in Blood Rage
Louise hasn’t had many iconic roles since giving up the part of Mary Hartman, though she’s still around! Recently, in September of 2022, it was rumored that the actress had passed away at the age of 83. However, it was just a hoax! The most notable work that Louise has appeared in since Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is arguably the cult-classic horror film Blood Rage. The film is about an evil twin, and it’s great schlock. However, the thing that makes the movie stand out is Mary’s incredible dramatic performance, which heightens the material. According to Mary, she used a special acting technique on the film wherein she drew upon the traumatic memories of her past to give an affecting dramatic performance. Given that the actress has suffered through the suicide of both of her parents, she certainly had a lot of trauma to draw from when giving her performance!
Louise Lasser remains best known for her titular run on the mid-1970s soap-opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, though she gave a pretty stunning dramatic turn in the 1987 cult-classic Blood Rage! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Mary Hartman actress Louise Lasser was Woody Allen’s second wife, and that she suffered through the suicide of both of her parents? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!