Mary Pat Gleason, who’s appeared in over 150 TV and film projects throughout her storied career in Hollywood, including CBS’ hit series Mom and NBC’s Will & Grace, died on June 2. She was 70.
The news was confirmed by actor and writer Ron Fassler on her Facebook page, where it was stated that her cause of death stemmed from a long battle with cancer. Fassler wrote:
Mary Pat Gleason, one of the dearest and sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure to know, passed away last night at age seventy. She has 174 credits on her IMDB page (with one unreleased film still to come), but she was so much more than a wonderful actress: she was one of a kind. So caring, so funny, and so delicious to be around, that I find it hard to imagine a world without her shining presence and smiling face. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved her (all one million of you). Let’s all raise a glass to her this evening as one and offer a final toast and a fond farewell in her memory.
Gleason’s manager confirmed the news to Variety on Wednesday saying that “she was a fighter to the end.”
While many viewers from her decades of work may not have known Gleason by name, they would most definitely recognize her face. Some of her most memorable roles include playing Madame Oeuf, the French teacher on Saved By By the Bell, Lucille, the compassionate dressing room attendant on Sex and the City, the strict school teacher named Lynette on Desperate Housewives, and Sally, the homeless woman on Will & Grace.
Gleason also starred in this memorable ’90s Mentos commercial as the movie theatre ticket kiosk manager.
Most recently, Gleason was a recurring guest star on Mom alongside Allison Janney and Anna Faris. She appeared on the series as Mary, a member of their Alcoholics Anonymous group in 8 episodes between 2014 and 2019. Her character died in Season 7 after Mary suffered from a brain aneurysm.
Here’s what you need to know about Mary Pat Gleason:
Gleason Won a Daytime Emmy Award for Writing on ‘Guiding Light’
In addition to being a star on the screen, Gleason was talented while working behind the scenes as well. In 1985, Gleason started working as a staff writer on CBS’ long-running soap series, Guiding Light, and in 1986, she earned a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team alongside head writers Pamela K. Long and Jeff Ryder.
Gleason, however, spent the bulk of her career performing in front of the camera. Her long list of TV credits includes guest-starring roles on Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, Two Broke Girls, The Blacklist, Shameless, 1600 Penn, Scandal, Bones, The Middleman, Nip/Tuck, and many more.
Gleason’s Film Career Includes Roles In ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ & ’13 Going on 30′
While Gleason seemed to guest-star on nearly every major network drama and comedy over the past four decades, she also found success on the big screen. In addition to starring alongside Hilary Duff in the classic teen rom-com, A Cinderella Story, she played in Teresa in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with Adam Sandler and Kevin James, and Martha Corey in 1996’s The Crucible.
Her other film credits include Bottle Shock, Intolerable Cruelty, Because I Said So, Bruce Almighty, and 13 Going on 30.
Moving Tributes From Gleason’s Family, Friends & Fans Were Shared on Social Media
Gleason’s niece, Hayley Pittelkow shared a moving post on Facebook on Wednesday. She wrote, “My heart hurts to see you go. I will forever cherish each moment I had with you. Mary Pat you are such an inspiring woman and were filled with nothing but kindness. I remember when I visited you back in August you would buy me watermelon every day because you knew that was my favorite food… or if you were mad at traffic you would just say ‘Oh honey, you need to go’ instead of cussing out the random people like everyone else does.”
“There was not a single bad bone in your body and I always said, ‘Mary Pat is too nice for this cruel world.’ I wish I was there to say goodbye, but I am happy you are no longer suffering. You will forever be one of my biggest inspirations and I will love you forever.”
Actress Kristen Johnson tweeted, “Oh no!!! She was so lovely & funny. You just instantly wanted to be her friend. RIP Mary Pat, standing O’s forever.”