Nancy Marchand

Nancy Lou Marchand (June 19, 1928 – June 18, 2000) was an American actress. She began her career in theatre in 1951. She was perhaps most famous for her television portrayals of Margaret Pynchon on Lou Grant and Livia Soprano on The Sopranos.

Nancy Lou Marchand
Marchand with Ed Asner and Mason Adams in Lou Grant in 1977
Born(1928-06-19)June 19, 1928
DiedJune 18, 2000(2000-06-18) (aged 71)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
Years active1951–2000
Paul Sparer
(m. 1951; died 1999)

Early years

Marchand was born in Buffalo, New York, to Raymond L. Marchand, a physician, and his wife, Marjorie Freeman Marchand, a pianist. She was raised Methodist.[1] She graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1949.[2] She studied theatre at the Herbert Berghof Studio[3] in New York City.


An accomplished member of the Actors Studio,[4] Marchand made her Broadway debut in The Taming of the Shrew in 1951. Additional theatre credits include The Merchant of Venice, Love's Labour's Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, Forty Carats, And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, The Plough and the Stars, The Glass Menagerie, Morning's at Seven, Awake and Sing!, The Octette Bridge Club, Love Letters, Man and Superman, The Importance of Being Earnest, The School for Scandal, The Balcony, for which she won a Distinguished Performance Obie Award, and Black Comedy/White Liars, for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play. She was nominated four times for the Drama Desk Award, winning handily for Morning's at Seven. She won a second Obie for her performance in A. R. Gurney's The Cocktail Hour.

On daytime television, Marchand created the roles of Vinnie Phillips on the CBS soap opera, Love of Life and Theresa Lamonte on the NBC soap, Another World. She also memorably starred as matriarch Edith Cushing on Lovers and Friends, a short-lived soap opera.

On prime time television, Marchand was renowned for her roles as patrician newspaper publisher Margaret Pynchon on Lou Grant—winning four Emmy Awards as Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series for her performance—and matriarch Livia Soprano, mother of Tony Soprano, on the HBO series The Sopranos, which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. She appeared in many anthology series in the early days of television, including The Philco Television Playhouse (on which she starred in Marty opposite Rod Steiger), Kraft Television Theatre, Studio One, and Playhouse 90. Additional television credits include The Law and Mr. Jones, Spenser: For Hire, Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Coach, and Night Court. She played Hester Crane, mother of Frasier Crane, on an episode of Cheers.

Marchand's feature film credits include Ladybug Ladybug, Me, Natalie, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, The Hospital, The Bostonians, Jefferson in Paris, The Bachelor Party (1957), Brain Donors, Reckless, The Naked Gun, Sabrina, Dear God, and From the Hip (1987).


Marchand suffered from both lung cancer and emphysema and died on June 18, 2000 in Stratford, Connecticut, one day before her 72nd birthday. Her character's death was written into the third season story line of The Sopranos. Her husband of 48 years, actor Paul Sparer, had died the previous year, also from cancer. The couple had three children: Katie, an actress, David (Rosebud), a lawyer, and Rachel Sparer Bersier, an opera singer. Marchand was posthumously inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[5]



Year Title Role Notes
1957 The Bachelor Party Mrs. Julie Samson
1963 Ladybug Ladybug Mrs. Andrews
1969 Me, Natalie Mrs. Miller
1970 Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Nurse Oxford
1971 The Hospital Mrs. Christie
1984 The Bostonians Mrs. Burrage
1987 From the Hip Roberta Winnaker
1988 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Mayor Barkley
1991 Regarding Henry Headmistress Uncredited
1992 Brain Donors Lillian Oglethorpe
1995 Jefferson in Paris Madame Abbesse
1995 Reckless Grandmother
1995 Sabrina Maude Larrabee
1996 Dear God Judge Kits Van Heynigan


Year Title Role Notes
1950 Studio One in Hollywood Jo March 2 episodes
1951 Lux Video Theatre Joan Episode: "Forever Walk Free"
1951–1958 Kraft Theatre Abby 9 episodes
1953 Studio One in Hollywood Miss Marmon Episode: "The Hospital"
1953 The Philco Television Playhouse Clara Episode: "Marty"
1953 Lux Video Theatre Phyllis Episode: "Two for Tea"
1954 Pond's Theater Charlotte 4 episodes
1957 Studio One in Hollywood Eleanor Episode: "Rudy"
1957 The United States Steel Hour Gen Arnold Episode: "Windfall"
1957 Shirley Temple's Storybook Queen Episode: "The Sleeping Beauty"
1958 Playhouse 90 Sylvia Sands Episode: "Free Weekend"
1959 Armstrong Circle Theatre Mrs. Howard Jones Episode: "Miracle at Spring Hill"
1959 Playhouse 90 Mrs. Yarbrough Episode: "The Hidden Image"
1959 NBC Sunday Showcase Mrs. Clegg Episode: "The Indestructible Mr. Gore"
1959 R.C.M.P. Gerta Boyd Episode: "Little Girl Lost"
1959 The Bells of St. Mary's Sister Michael TV movie
1960 Play of the Week Margaret 2 episodes
1960 The Law and Mr. Jones Dorothy Episode: "The Long Echo"
1961 The Defenders Mrs. Crile Episode: "The Attack"
1962 Naked City Esther Lindall Episode: "The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish"
1964 The Defenders Rhoda Banter Episode: "Hollow Triumph"
1972 Look Homeward, Angel Madame Elizabeth TV movie
1976 Another World Theresa Lamonte Unknown episodes
1977–1982 Lou Grant Margaret Pynchon 99 episodes
1977 Soldier's Home Mrs. Krebs TV movie
1983 Sparkling Cyanide Lucilla Drake TV movie
1984 Cheers Dr. Hester Crane Episode: "Diane Meets Mom"
1986 Spenser: For Hire Emily Garden Episode: "In a Safe Place"
1986 North and South, Book II Dorothea Dix 6 episodes
1990–1992 Coach Marlene Watkins 2 episodes
1992 Law & Order Mrs. Barbara Ryder Episode: "Blood Is Thicker"
1992 Night Court Louise Cahill 2 episodes
1993 Crossroads Aunt Dorothy Episode: "The Nickel Curve"
1994 Homicide: Life on the Street Lorraine Freeman Episode: "All Through the House"
1999–2000 The Sopranos Livia Soprano 21 episodes, (final appearance)

Awards and nominations

Year Organization Category Series Result
1978 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Lou Grant Won
1979 Nominated
1980 Won
1981 Won
1982 Won
1994 Tony Awards Best Actress in a Play The White Liars & Black Comedy Nominated
1999 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series The Sopranos Nominated
1999 Viewers for Quality Televisions Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series Nominated
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Won
2001 Nominated


  1. "Nancy Marchand". FilmReference. 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
  2. Alumni
  3. HB Studio Alumni
  4. Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 279. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  5. "Theater family comes together to celebrate Hall of Fame honorees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
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