An actor who came to the fore in prominent supporting roles in film and TV relatively late in life, Pointer did her professional best typecast as concerned wives and mothers, assured career women and the occasional stern villain. Trained for the stage, she first performed in a touring company of "Kiss and Tell"; Broadway work over the years would include original productions and revivals of "The Country Wife", "Condemned of Altona" and "A Streetcar Named Desire". Married to actor turned TV producer-director Jules Irving from 1947 until his death in 1979, Pointer devoted much of her energy to raising their three children, one of whom is actress Amy Irving. Work in TV, in fact, only got underway for Pointer in the early 1970s as she approached age 50. She played a doctor in the daytime soap "Where the Heart Is", a history teacher in "The Failing of Raymond" (1971), Gen. Douglas MacArthur's (Henry Fonda) wife in "Collision Course" (1976) and a deaf parent in the ABC Afterschool Special "Mom and Dad Can't Hear Me" (1978).
Feature film work began for the actress around this time, and with her light, clear eyes, quiet but firm alto voice and highly distinctive, deeply lined face and neck, Pointer graced a series of intense dramas and thrillers. She made her debut in the teen horror film "Carrie" (1976, as the mother of Amy Irving's character) and enjoyed a larger part as Diane Keaton and Tuesday Weld's worried mother in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" (1977). Rarely appearing in comedy, Pointer later acted in "The Onion Field" (1979), "Mommie Dearest" (1981), "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985, as Sean Penn's mother), "Blue Velvet" (1986, as parent to Kyle MacLachlan) and the atypically whimsical "Un-Becoming Age" (1992). She has continued to work with Amy Irving in film ("The Competition" 1980, "A Show of Force" 1990) and TV ("The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics" 1994). She received her greatest visibility via several seasons (1981-83) on the immensely popular primetime TV soap "Dallas", as Rebecca Wentworth, mother of Pam (Victoria Principal) and Cliff (Ken Kercheval). The actress has worked on the TV-movies "Generation" (1985), "Hemingway" (1988) and "Traveler's Rest" (1993), and made guest appearances on series like "The Flash" and "ER".
In 1981, Pointer married actor Robert Symonds, a supporting player active on TV as authority figures and historical personages including Harry S Truman, Benjamin Franklin and Robert E. Lee. She is also the mother of film director David Irving.