Despite a career dating back to the earliest days of television, Estelle Parsons has never contended for an Emmy Award. At age 90, the Oscar-winning actress (“Bonnie and Clyde,” 1967) is about to break that dry spell as she is a frontrunner to win Best Comedy Guest Actress for her turn as Beverly Harris, the irresistibly insufferable mother of Roseanne Connor (Roseanne Barr) and Jackie Harris (Laurie Metcalf) on “Roseanne.”
She recurred in this role throughout the nine seasons of the show’s original run but was overlooked by TV academy voters. The ratings for the revival of “Roseanne” have been red-hot and Parsons was showcased in two of the best-reviewed episodes. In “Darlene v. David,” Beverly arrives at the Connors’ front door, admitting she has just been kicked out of her nursing home for having too many sexual flings with fellow residents. It is Parsons’ second appearance on the show, however, in “No Country for Old Women,” that really gives the actress a chance to shine.
In that episode, Beverly is forced to bounce from home to home, from Roseanne’s to Becky (Lecy Goranson)’s and finally to Jackie’s, as the family quarrels over who will take care of her. Disheartened, Beverly half-heartedly attempts suicide and is saved by Jackie, who agrees to take her in.
Of Parsons’ appearance in “Darlene v. David,” David Greene of IndieWire wrote: “Of course, David (Johnny Galecki) wasn’t the only character to make a long-awaited return in this episode: Estelle Parsons, everyone! Having Bev come back in the midst of a parenting-heavy episode made for a solid fit. As granddaughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert) faced some difficult decisions, to have the Bev whirlwind come through seems like a healthier way to show that there is more than one way to parent than Roseanne’s water-sink torture session from a few weeks ago.”
In her review of “No Country for Old Men,” Danette Chavez of The A.V. Club said Parsons “has always crackled as the Harris family matriarch” and “hasn’t lost any of her moxie as Bev.”
In addition to her Oscar for “Bonnie & Clyde,” Parsons received another Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for “Rachel, Rachel” (1968). The actress earned Tony Award nominations for her turns in “The Seven Descents of Myrtle” (1969); “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little” (1971); “Miss Margarida’s Way” (1977); “Morning’s at Seven” (2002); and “The Velocity of Autumn” (2014).
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