Mary Leddy was Frank Sheeran’s first wife. An Irish immigrant, she married Frank after he returned from World War II. They would have three daughters together before divorcing. Frank would go on to marry his second wife, Irene, and have a fourth daughter.
Mary gave birth to MaryAnne Sheeran first, followed by sisters Peggy and Dolores. Frank’s fourth daughter with Irene was Connie Sheeran.
In the new Netflix-Scorcese film The Irishman, Mary gets very little screen time. However, she played a monumental role in Frank’s life throughout his early professional years, and was beside his side when he first became involved in illegal activity.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mary & Frank Came Together After He Boxed With a Kangaroo
There are several memorable aspects of Frank’s life that were left out of The Irishman. One such moment, as detailed in I Heard You Paint Houses, was when Frank went to a carnival that offered $100 to anyone who could last three rounds of boxing with a kangaroo.
As he relays the tale, he said in part, “Actually, my attention was a pretty Irish girl sitting in the stands with the sweetest smile on her face. I was trying to show off for her. Her name was Mary Leddy, and I had seen her in the neighborhood, but I had never spoken to her.”
Frank said he was taken down to city jail after fighting the kangaroo, but was let out shortly after. He said, “I headed straight for Mary Leddy’s house [after I was let out], knocked on her door, and asked her out.”
Frank described Mary as a “real strict Catholic,” with the “prettiest Irish face” he had ever seen. He said on their first date that he had made up his mind that “this was the girl I was going to marry.”
2. In the Early Years of Their Marriage, Mary Worked as a Secretary
Mary worked for the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy as a secretary in the early years of her marriage to Frank. The young married couple lived with Mary’s famiily for several years while they saved money for their own place, Frank said.
He explained, “[When I finally had a steady paycheck] and [we had] a baby on the way, Mary was finally able to give notice at her job, and we were able to afford our own place to live in. We rented a house in Upper Darby. We paid half the rent in exchange for Mary taking care of the landlady’s daughter during the day.”
Mary and Frank’s first daughter was MaryAnne. After MaryAnne came Peggy, then Dolores.
3. Mary & Frank Divorced in 1968; He Would Go on to Marry a Woman Named Irene
In I Heard You Paint Houses, Frank stated his regret for the way he treated his first wife and his three oldest daughters. He noted how “the whole thing changed” when he started spending time “downtown” and getting to know Italian food drivers.
He said, “I feel very bad about it now. I wasn’t an abusive father, but I started getting a little neglectful, and Mary was too good a woman, too easy on me. Then, at some point, I just joined that other culture and I stopped coming home. But I brought cash over every single week. If I did good, Mary did good. I was a selfish bastard…I didn’t give the kids enough time. I didn’t give my wife enough time.”
Frank and Mary divorced in 1968; she would never marry again. He would go onto marry his second wife, Irene. He said of her, “It was different when I married my second wife, Irene, and I had my fourth daughter. By then I was with Hoffa and the Teamsters, and I had steady money coming in and I was older and home more.”
Mary Sheeran, nee Leddy, died on April 6, 2005. She was living in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the time of her death.
Per her obituary, Mary left behind her daughters, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren at the time of her death.
4. Mary Never Believed Her Husband Killed Jimmy Hoffa., Says Daughter Dolores
According to her daughter, Dolores, Mary never believed her husband killed Jimmy Hoffa. Dolores said, “I suspected my father was behind Jimmy’s death but I never asked him directly. My mother disagreed. She said he and Jimmy were as thick as thieves but my gut instinct told me otherwise.”
I Heard You Paint Houses was released in 2004, a year before Mary died. In the book, Sheeran confesses to murdering Hoffa. Mary never made a public statement about those confessions. Dolores did say to The Daily Mail, “I know now that he killed his friend Jimmy. He had no choice, he was acting on orders. If he hadn’t done it, he would have been killed.”
5. Mary Is Played by Aleksa Palladino in The Irishman
In the Netflix-Scorcese behemoth The Irishman, Mary’s character is played by actress Aleksa Palladino. Though the movie was released to rave reviews, one of the only repeated criticisms of the film was the lack of depth within the female characters, particularly of Mary and Peggy.
Tom Deignan for Irish Central wrote, “It’s too bad that a three and a half hour movie couldn’t find much time for the Irish immigrant woman that would have Sheeran’s three children. Their first meeting alone — a boxing kangaroo is involved — would have made a great movie scene.”
It’s true that Mary, tragically, plays a minor, virtually silent role in the film, as do all of her daughters. Peggy, who is played by Anna Paquin, has one of the more impactful female roles in the film, and she only says a handful of words.