Mary Pat Gleason, a prolific character actress and writer whose work included A Cinderella Story and Mom, has reportedly passed away at the age of 70. The news was confirmed by Gleason's manager, who told Variety that "she was a fighter until the end". Born on February 23, 1950, in Lake City, Minnesota, her acting career first began while attending high school in St. Paul, where she starred in a well-received Theater St. Paul production of Once Upon a Mattress. Her onscreen career first began in 1982, with an appearance in an episode of the NBC soap opera Texas. She then went on to play Jane Hogan on the long-running soap opera Guiding Light from 1983 to 1985. She served as a writer on two of the series' episodes and ultimately won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team for that work in 1986.
Her career in the '80s also included episodes of Full House, Murphy Brown, Quantum Leap, and an appearance in Troop Beverly Hills. In the decades since, she made appearances on Saved by the Bell, Murder, She Wrote, Friends, Step by Step, Suddenly Susan, Will & Grace, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Family Matters, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Middleman, Up All Night, 1600 Penn, Motive, Baby Daddy, Grey's Anatomy, Partners, Mama's Family, and 2 Broke Girls. She also had a recurring role as Mary on the CBS sitcom Mom.
On the film side, she made appearances in films like Basic Instinct, The Crucible, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Traffic, Bruce Almighty, 13 Going on 30, Bottle Shock, A Cinderella Story, The Island, Killing Kennedy and Nina. She gained a whole new generation of fans in the 2004 film A Cinderella Story, where she played Eleanor, a waitress at the film's diner. She also portrayed Professor Foxtrot in CollegeHumor's WTF 101 web series.
Gleason also was an advocate for mental illness causes, and spoke candidly about her struggles with bipolar disorder.
"You can’t heal what hides in shame in the dark. It must be drawn into the light," Gleason wrote in a 2017 post on The S Word. "I believe your wound is your gift. I believe bipolar disease is my gift. But I have to see it that way. Otherwise your wound is just a wound. If we remove the shame around mental illness, if we can speak of it in public without fear of being punished, perhaps we have a chance of finding a cure."
Her final credits included the Netflix original film Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, the 2019 horror film Chain of Death, and the upcoming inspirational drama Pencil Town."
Our thoughts are with Gleason's friends, family, and fans at this time.
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