1. Born on April 28, 1952, she was raised in Ithaca, NY (home of Cornell University).
2. In addition to acting, she has engaged in synchronized swimming. (Even after all these years, I still can’t believe such a thing exists. Fascinating.)
3. McDonnell has twice been nominated for an Oscar (Dances with Wolves, Passion Fish).
4. She played the title role (although did not originate it) in the Broadway play The Heidi Chronicles.
5. She appeared on two TV series with strikingly similar names, the short-lived E/R and the long running ER.
6. McDonnell received a lot of attention for her role as President (originally Secretary of Education) Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica. She previously played the First Lady in the film Independence Day.
7. She is married to actor Randle Mell, who played the leading male role in a 1980s revival of the agitprop musical The Cradle Will Rock.
8. A Facebook page devoted to the actress is called “Mary McDonnell’s Legs,” in appreciation of her shapely gams.
9. McDonnell currently resides in Pacific Palisades, CA (which in no way connects her with the name of this blog, regrettably.)
10. McDonnell played the role of Alma Winemiller, a repressed spinster, opposite Harry (L.A. Law) Hamlin in a 1996 Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke. (Quite the opposite of her character on Major Crimes and The Closer.)