Eileen Heckart

A celebrated character actress of stage, film and TV, Heckart's disarming laugh, almost gangly frame and large eyes have lent themselves to the portrayal of overbearing mothers, career women, villainous dames, and a ... Read more »
Born: 03/29/1919 in Columbus, Ohio, USA


Actor (46)

Cybill 1992 - 1993, 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Love & War 1992 - 1994, 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Murder One 1992 - 1994, 1996 - 1998 (Tv Show)


The First Wives Club 1996 (Movie)

Catherine MacDuggan (Actor)

The Five Mrs. Buchanans 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


The 65th Annual Academy Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


Annie McGuire 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)


Heartbreak Ridge 1986 (Movie)

Little Mary (Actor)

Alice 1976 - 1985 (TV Show)


Partners in Crime 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)


The Recovery Room 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)


Trauma Center 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)


F.D.R. -- The Last Year 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)


Out of the Blue 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)


Backstairs at the White House 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)


The Mary Tyler Moore Show 1970 - 1977 (TV Show)


Burnt Offerings 1976 (Movie)

Roz (Actor)

The Hiding Place 1974 (Movie)

Katje (Actor)

Zandy's Bride 1974 (Movie)

Ma Allan (Actor)

All the Way Home 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)


Butterflies Are Free 1972 (Movie)

Mrs Baker (Actor)

No Way to Treat a Lady 1968 (Movie)

Mrs. Brummel (Actor)

The Tree 1968 (Movie)


Up the Down Staircase 1967 (Movie)

Henrietta Pastorfield (Actor)

My Six Loves 1962 (Movie)

Ethel Swenson (Actor)

Heller in Pink Tights 1960 (Movie)

Lorna Hathaway (Actor)

Playhouse 90 1956 - 1960 (TV Show)


Hot Spell 1958 (Movie)

Fan (Actor)

Bus Stop 1956 (Movie)

Vera (Actor)

Miracle in the Rain 1956 (Movie)

Grace Ullman (Actor)

Somebody Up There Likes Me 1956 (Movie)

Ma Barbella (Actor)

The Bad Seed 1956 (Movie)

Mrs Daigle (Actor)

A Doll's House (TV Show)


Breathing Lessons (TV Show)


Seize the Day (TV Show)


Stuck With Each Other (TV Show)


Suddenly, Love (TV Show)


Sunshine Christmas (TV Show)


The Big Black Pill (TV Show)


The Blue Men (TV Show)


The Victim (TV Show)


Ultimate Betrayal (TV Show)


White Mama (TV Show)



A celebrated character actress of stage, film and TV, Heckart's disarming laugh, almost gangly frame and large eyes have lent themselves to the portrayal of overbearing mothers, career women, villainous dames, and a host of sympathetic, beloved parts. Perhaps best remembered for her Broadway and film portrayal of Mrs. Daigle, the bereaved mother of Patty McCormack's first victim in "The Bad Seed" (1956), her Broadway and film portrayal of Mrs. Baker, the mother with overbearing concern for her blind son in the Broadway and film versions of "Butterflies Are Free" (1973) and her several appearances as Mary's "Aunt Flo" on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".

Heckart has worked continuously in all three media since hitting New York in 1943. After understudying many roles on Broadway, playing small parts, and appearing with stage companies out of NYC during the 1940s, Heckart became a Broadway star by creating the role of Rosemary Sidney in "Picnic", for which she won an Outer Critics Circle Award. The next year, she created the role of Mrs. Daigle in the original stage production of "The Bad Seed". Heckart was brought to Hollywood by Warner Brothers to recreate the role in the 1956 film version for which she earned her first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. That same year she had also appeared in "Miracle in the Rain" and "Bus Stop".

While she had begun appearing on TV in its earliest days, and had worked in many episodes of live anthology series during the 50s, after "The Bad Seed," Heckart had more offers for both the big and small screen, but her heart still belonged to the theatre. "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1957) firmed her place as a Broadway star; yet she squeezed in appearances in such films as "Hot Spell" (1958) and "Heller in Pink Tights" (1960), both for Paramount. In 1965, she created the role of Mrs. Banks in the Broadway production of "Barefoot in the Park," while also appearing in episodes of such TV series as "Gunsmoke" and "The FBI". "Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn" and "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," both for PBS in 1966 won Heckart a host of television awards. She continued to create roles in Broadway comedies and dramas, including Mrs. Baker in "Butterflies Are Free" a 1969 effort which she recreated in the 1972 film version. As the overprotective mother of a blind son, Heckart held her own against Goldie Hawn and Edward Albert and was rewarded with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. It was two years before Heckart appeared in her next film, "Zandy's Bride" (1974) but in between she starred in plays not only on Broadway, but in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Instant TV recognition for Heckart came in 1975 when she was cast as Mary Richards' Aunt Flo Meredith, a name-dropping, globe-trotting, groundbreaking female reporter on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show". Aunt Flo burst into the WJM newsroom and into the series' audience's hearts, especially when she had an on-again, off-again relationship with Lou Grant (Ed Asner) in subsequent seasonal appearances. Heckart's appearances on the Moore series triggered a spurt in her TV "Q" rating, and she was cast as a regular on "Out of the Blue", an ABC series in and as Eleanor Roosevelt in the NBC miniseries "Backstairs at the White House" (both 1979). Heckart's take on the First Lady was like none other audiences had seen -- uppercrust, to be sure, but urban, vibrant, buoyant, and with a rousing edge of middle-aged sexuality. It was perhaps the first time one could believe Eleanor Roosevelt had actually slept with Franklin, and not just been his saintly "eyes and legs." In 1980, Heckart reprised her role as Aunt Flo, but this time in a fully dramatic way, as a weary reporter on the press bus during a gubernatorial campaign on "Lou Grant" It was one of the first times a sitcom character had been used in a dramatic series on TV. Heckart again tried regular series TV with "Trauma Center" (ABC, 1983) and "Partners in Crime" (NBC, 1984) but with little luck. She was again in support of Mary Tyler Moore on the one-season "Annie McGuire" (CBS, 1988-89). Heckart waited several years before taking another stab at sitcom success as the sharp-tongued mother-in-law on "The Five Mrs. Buchanans" (CBS, 1994). Still, despite additional TV-movie and feature film appearances, and unlike many of her contemporaries who abandon theatre once past middle age for the easier workloads of TV and film, Heckart returned to the grease paint and the live audiences whenever she had a chance, including 1995's "Northeast Local" opposite Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Anthony LaPaglia.


John Harrison Yankee Jr

born on August 1, 1920 married from June 26, 1943 until his death on February 23, 1997

Leo Heckart

divorced Heckart's mother c. 1921 son went to live with him

Esther Heckart

divorced from Heckart's father retained custody of Heckart remarried four additional times

Luke Yankee

born c. 1960

Mark Yankee

born c. 1952

Philip Yankee

born c. 1954 works on a cruise line stage managing theatrical presentations


American Theatre Wing

New York , New York 1944 - 1948

Ohio State University

Columbus , Ohio 1942



Returned to the Off-Broadway stage playing an elderly woman with Alzheimer's disease in "The Waverly Gallery"; announced this would be the last time she would act


Cast as Diane Keaton's mother in the film comedy "The First Wives Club"


Co-starred in the CBS sitcom as one of "The Five Mrs. Buchanans"


Appeared regularly as Mary Tyler Moore's mother in "Annie McGuire" (CBS)


Made one-shot return to films in "Heartbreak Ridge"


Series regular as mother-in-law to Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson on the short-lived "Partners in Crime" (NBC)


Played nurse Amy Drecker on the ABC medical series "Trauma Center"


Reprised role of Flo Meredith on episode of CBS' "Lou Grant"


Portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in NBC miniseries "Backstairs at the White House"


Debut as TV series regular "Out of the Blue" (ABC)


Returned to Broadway in "Ladies at the Alamo,"


Last film for a decade, "Burnt Offerings"


First appearance as Mary's Aunt Flo Meredith on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"


TV-movie debut, "The Victim," ABC


Won Oscar reprising her turn as the overprotective mother of a blind man in "Butterflies Are Free"


Played the featured role of Mrs. Baker in "Butterflies Are Free" on Broadway


Created role of Lottie Lacey in "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs"


Earned Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination reprising her stage role in "The Bad Seed"


Film debut in "Miracle in the Rain"


Created the role of Mrs. Daigle in "The Bad Seed" on stage


Co-starred as Rosemary Sidney in the Broadway production of "Picnic"


Made TV debut in now lost live program


Member of the company, The Shorewood Players, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Broadway debut as understudy and assistant stage manager, "The Voice of the Turtle"

Played recurring role of mother to attorney James Wyler (Anthony LaPaglia) in the ABC drama "Murder One"

Bonus Trivia


Heckart was pledge president, rush chairperson and president of her sorority, Phi Beta, at Ohio State University.


She received an honorary doctor of laws from Sacred Heart University in 1973.


Received an honorary doctorate from Ohio State University in 1981.


Received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Niagra University in 1981.