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,