The Good Place‘s Ted Danson is famously known for portraying the ex-baseball playboy Sam Malone on the classic NBC hit Cheers. But that’s not his only claim to fame. Danson has had an illustrious career full of starring roles in shows like Becker, CSI, Bored to Death, and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, which he co-stars in with his real-life wife Mary Steenburgen.
Steenburgen is an award-winning actress who’s starred in films like Stepbrothers, Parenthood, Elf, The Help, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Here are five fast fact you need to know about the Oscar-winning Steenburgen.
1. Steenburgen Was Discovered by Jack Nicholson
While waiting in the reception room of Paramount’s New York office, Steenburgen had a life-changing run-in with the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest actor. Nicholson was seeking actresses for a film that would become his second directorial feature, the western-comedy Goin’ South. Steenburgen was about to leave a meeting with a casting director when she heard the actor’s booming voice.
“As I was leaving I hear a voice saying ‘Are you waiting to see me?’ and I realize it was Jack Nicholson…he walked over to the desk, picked up a script, and handed it to me. He just kept me reading and reading. We read every scene in the movie two or three times,” Steenburgen explained in the clip above.
After a screen test in Los Angeles, she won the part (and her big break), co-starring with actors like Christopher Lloyd, John Belushi, and Nicholson himself. That lucky run-in kickstarted her 40-year career that’s still thriving to this day.
2. Steenburgen is an Oscar and Golden Globe Winner for Her Role in Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard
In 1980, Steenburgen won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Lynda West Dummar in Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard. The movie was inspired by real-life Utah gas station owner Melvin Dummar, who was listed as the beneficiary of $156 million in a will allegedly handwritten by Howard Hughes. She also won a Golden Globe for the same role.
Additionally, Steenburgen was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank and a BAFTA TV Award for Tender is the Night. More recently, she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture with her ensemble for The Help.
3. Steenburgen Met Second Husband Danson On the Set of Pontiac Moon
After divorcing actor Malcolm McDowell in 1990 (the two have two children together), Steenburgen met her second husband, Danson, on set of the movie Pontiac Moon. Directed by Peter Medak, the film tells the story of Washington Bellamy, a pigheaded science teacher in a small town in California. It was a difficult time for Danson who had just bid Cheers farewell after 11 seasons and had recently divorced his second wife, producer Casey Coates, who he shares two daughters with.
“I was a mess-and-a-half,” the actor told AARP The Magazine. “I thought, I’m incapable of being in a relationship. But I was working on myself. Ironic how life works in those moments. Once you throw your arms up and surrender, a lot of times things come your way.”
The two met in 1993 and married in 1995.
4. Danson and Steenburgen Have Appeared Together On Screen Multiple Times
The husband and wife duo starred as fictionalized versions of themselves in Larry David’s HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, but that’s not the only time Danson and Steenburgen have appeared together.
During the 1996-1997 TV season, the two starred in CBS’s Ink about two newspaper journalists, allegedly inspired by the film His Girl Friday. Though the series survived a full 22-episode season, it was canceled in 1997.
They also starred together in the NBC television miniseries Gulliver’s Travels in 1996. Danson starred as the titular Lemuel Gulliver, an Englishman who returns after nine years abroad to tell strange stories of flying islands and intelligent horses. Steenburgen played Gulliver’s wife, Mary.
5. Steenburgen Was A Cast Member of the Recently Canceled The Last Man on Earth and ‘It Still Hurts to Talk About It’
On the Will Forte-created show The Last Man on Earth, Steenburgen played Gail Klosterman, a chef and former restaurant owner from North Carolina, who finds solace with fellow survivor, Erica. The show, a post-apocalyptic comedy about a group of survivors, was canceled last year after four seasons.
“It still hurts to talk about it…I will always be slightly in mourning for it,” the actress said.
After Last Man wrapped, Steenburgen starred in Book Club with Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Candice Bergen, and also appeared in an episode of The Conners.