Mary Steenburgen

Soft-spoken and endearing, Mary Steenburgen first achieved a measure of fame with her debut role in the Jack Nicholson-directed Western "Goin' South" (1978), before winning raves and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Melvin's flustered but caring wife in Jonathan Demme's "Melvin and Howard" (1980). She starred alongside Steve Martin and an all-star ensemble cast in the Ron Howard family comedy "Parenthood" (1989), prior to falling in love with time-traveling Doc Brown in "Back to the Future III" (1990). She had a rare turn as an unlikable character when she reteamed with Demme for the heart-wrenching drama "Philadelphia" (1993), acting opposite Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks. After a small, but memorable role in Oliver Stone's political docudrama "Nixon" (1995), she later began what would be a steady string of appearances as herself - along with her celebrated husband Ted Danson - on the hit comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ). Increasingly cast in the role of family matriarch, Steenburgen infused these roles with an effervescence and wit that resulted in fully realized, eminently likable characters. She brought something extra to the role of James Caan's neglected wife in the Will Ferrell Christmas comedy "Elf" (2003), and showed an inordinate amount of patience as Ferrell's mother in "Step Brothers" (2008). Pulling off a feat few actresses could manage, Steenburgen successfully transitioned from charming waif to elegantly mature actress over the course of 30-plus years, without any signs of slowing down.