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Louise Lasser (born April 11, 1939) is an American actress. She is known for her portrayal of the title character on the soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She was married to Woody Allen and appeared in several of his films. After hosting an infamous episode of Saturday Night Live, she was banned from performing on the show.

Personal life

Lasser was born in New York City, New York of Jewish heritage, the daughter of tax specialist and writer J.K. Lasser (Jacob Kay Lasser). Lasser studied political science at Brandeis University. She was married to Woody Allen from 1966 to 1969.

Career

Lasser appeared in the Woody Allen films Take the Money and Run, Bananas, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), as well as being one of the voices for his spoof dubbing of a Japanese spy movie What's Up Tiger Lily? She also had a brief cameo in his 1980 film Stardust Memories. She became a household name for starring as the neurotic, unhappy housewife Mary Hartman on the outrageous soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman which aired 5 nights a week in 1976-1977. Lasser also wrote the telemovie Just Me and You (1978), starring in it alongside Charles Grodin. She had a recurring role as Alex's ex-wife on the hit series Taxi and starred in the 1981-82 season of the TV series It's a Living.

In 2000, Lasser appeared on a panel with her former cast members of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills (taped for the museum archives). Her most recent role of note was in the 1999 film, Mystery Men, in which she played the mother of Hank Azaria's character. The year before this she played Mona, the mother of the three main female characters, in Todd Solondz's film Happiness. Lasser also had a role in the film Requiem for a Dream and co-starred with Renee Taylor in National Lampoon's Gold Diggers.

Saturday Night Live

Lasser was the first host to be banned from performing on Saturday Night Live again, after she hosted at the end of the first season on July 24, 1976. Lasser was said to be going through personal problems at the time and was reportedly nearly incoherent throughout the broadcast. Lasser refused to do any skits (except ones where she was by herself or with Chevy Chase). Lasser played up her popular "Mary Hartman" character's neurotic schtick in an opening bit where she has a "breakdown" during the opening monologue, runs and locks herself in her dressing room and is coaxed out by the cast (including "Land Shark").

At one point before the show aired, Lasser told producer Lorne Michaels that she would not go on the air unless a certain sketch was cut. Michaels responded by informing her that if she did so, he would announce on the live broadcast exactly why she was not appearing as planned, and that the show would continue without her. Chase planned to play all of Lasser's parts in a Mary Hartman wig, with Bill Murray (yet to join the cast but in attendance that night) taking Chase's parts.

Ultimately, Lasser did go on. However, this episode was such a disappointment to Lorne Michaels that it was also barred from syndication minus one showing on Comedy Central in 1991 until 2002, when it appeared as a one-hour syndicated episode on E!. It also appears on the Complete First Season DVD boxset in its unedited, as-broadcast form

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