February 8, 1953
Mary Steenburgen was born in Newport (Jackson County) to Maurice Steenburgen, a freight train conductor, and Nellie Mae Wall Steenburgen, a school secretary. Steenburgen is one of Arkansas’s most celebrated actors, as well as an advocate for many social and political causes. Noted for roles in cinema, television, and stage, she has portrayed a wide range of characters, from the president’s mother, Hannah Nixon, in Nixon (1995) to schoolteacher Clara Clayton in Back to the Future III (1990) to seductress Betty Carver in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). She has won many awards, including an Academy Award for her portrayal of Lynda Dummar in Melvin and Howard (1980).