Date: Tue, 06 Jun 1995 06:57:35 -0400
From: KONG WAI LEE <kw_lee@vega.concordia.ca>
To: Multiple recipients of list MSM-L <MSM-L@vm.temple.edu>
Subject: Biography

     I've already sent out this article before so some of you may already
have it, but for Claudia and others new to this listserver, here's an
interesting passage.


Wai Kong Lee
Dept. of Computer Science
Concordia university


     Excerpt taken from a book called, Opening Shots, by Damien
Bona.  Reprinted without permission from the publisher.  Do not
retransmit.


     Born in 1967, Mary Stuart Masterson is the daughter of
actor-writer-stage director Peter Masterson and actress Carlyn
Glynn.  Not until 1978, when her father cowrote and codirected,
and her mother starred in and won a Tony for, the Broadway
musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, did Masterson's
family get on firm ground in terms of both bankability and money
in the bank.  Therefore, back in 1974 when Peter Masterson got a
costarring role in the film version of Ira Levin's best-seller
The Stepford Wives, it was a gala occasion.  Since his character
had two young daughters, why waste time trying to find a little
girl who looked as if she might have inherited some of her screen
father's genes when you could have the real thing?  Hiring Peter
Masterson's true-life daughter made perfect sense, and seven-
year-old Mary Stuart headed to Westport for filming.
     Directed by Bryan Forbes, a veteran of British kitchen-sink
movies, The Stepford Wives is science fiction about a suburb
where the women all behave like devoted followers of Marabel
Morgan's The Total Woman, blissfully doing housework, cooking
gourmet meals and living to please their men.  Leading lady
Katharine Ross and her friend Paula Prentiss, both newcomers to
town discover that the village's wives have been replaced by
robots, and Ross finds out that her husband, Peter Masterson,
wants in on the action.  Mildly satiric, both about the women's
movement and what used to be referred to as male chauvinist pigs,
The Stepford Wives might have made a diverting episode of The
Twilight Zone, but stretched to two hours it wears pretty thin.
There's not much more to the movie than its premise, and since
the town's secret was common knowledge in 1975, actually sitting
through the movie became superfluous.  "Something strange is
happening in the Town of Stepford," said the ads, but what Frank
Rich, writing in the leftie magazine New Times, saw was "a
classic example of how Hollywood tries to exploit a 'topical'
issue without ever bothering to find out its substance.
     Mary Stuart Masterson, who received 22nd billing, has very
little to do as Kim Eberhard : going to the supermarket with her
parents, riding on the school bus, hanging out around the
Fairfield Count house and playing-standard little-girl things.
She is basically indistinguishable from Ronny Sullivan, who plays
her sister, Amy (Mary Stuart's hair is slightly longer).  In
fact, the two girls are so peripheral to The Stepford Wives that
we never hear their names until more than 90 minutes into the
movie; up till then they're simply referred to as "the kids,"
"the girls," "Sweetie" or "you guys."  Mary Stuart does have two
dramatic moments.  One is when she can't sleep after the family
has just moved to Stepford, and she says to Katherine Ross of her
stuffed animal, "I think Teddy's gonna cry all night."  The other
is when she and her sister live every child's nightmare : walking
in on an argument between the parents.  "Are you two fighting?"
she inquires.
     She's a cute towheaded child, but there is nothing in her
performance to indicate the extraordinary actress she would grow
up to be, with her seemingly thaumaturgic mixture of fragility
and free-spirited toughness.  But even back then the wheels were
turning.  During one scene, set late at night, director Forbes
asked her to pep up her entrance into a room.  "Why?" she
inquired.  "It will be better," the director explained.  "We want
to see your lovely face." "But it's supposed to be late at night
and I'm supposed to have just woken up," protested the little
actress. "I should be tired!"
     After this one stint in the movies, Masterson's parents
decided she would have a more grounded childhood outside the
limelight, for which she was grateful.  "They helped me stay on
track as a person with my first priority being experience," she
said. "They told me, 'You can't play a person unless you are
one.'"  She did perform in productions at New York's Dalton
School and on Broadway at age 15 in Eva Le Gallienne's version of
Alice in Wonderland, enacting two roles, the Four of Hearts and
the Small White Rabbit.  Masterson was 17 when she returned to
films as Dani, the vulnerable working girl in Heaven Help Us.
Except for an eight-month dry spell after completing the film-
during which she entered New York University to study
anthropology-she hasn't slowed down.  She graced a number of
films of varying quality (At Close Range, Some Kind of Wonderful,
Funny About Love) that had one thing in common: Hardly anybody
came to see them.  As Masterson put it, "I'm lucky not to be
considered box-office poison."  After playing Idgie in 1991's
Fried Green Tomatoes she was anything but.