Mariette Hartley

Biography: Never the typical ingénue, American actress Mariette Hartley was distinguished by attractively offbeat facial features and a full, throaty voice -- acting tools that enabled her to play a wide spectrum of ages and personalities even when she was barely out of her teens. The granddaughter of behavioral psychologist John B. Watson, Hartley began her training at Carnegie Tech, then studied acting under Eva LeGalleine . Shakespeare was Hartley's forte in her salad days; thus, she was a full-blown professional before the age of 21. Hartley's first film, Ride the High Country (1961), may well have been her best; as the runaway bride of a mentally deficient mountain man, Hartley was permitted to forego cutesiness and glamour, spending most of the film in dusty male western garb. She was so good in this first appearance that MGM literally had no idea what to do with her; the solution was to cast her as a garden-variety damsel in distress in Drums of Africa (1963), which Hartley nowNever the typical ingénue, American actress Mariette Hartley was distinguished by attractively offbeat facial features and a full, throaty voice -- acting tools that enabled her to play a wide spectrum of ages and personalities even when she was barely out of her teens. The granddaughter of behavioral psychologist John B. Watson, Hartley began her training at Carnegie Tech, then studied acting under Eva LeGalleine . Shakespeare was Hartley's forte in her salad days; thus, she was a full-blown professional before the age of 21. Hartley's first film, Ride the High Country (1961), may well have been her best; as the runaway bride of a mentally deficient mountain man, Hartley was permitted to forego cutesiness and glamour, spending most of the film in dusty male western garb. She was so good in this first appearance that MGM literally had no idea what to do with her; the solution was to cast her as a garden-variety damsel in distress in Drums of Africa (1963), which Hartley now regards as her worst film (and it is -- far worse than the more obvious candidate, 1971's The Return of Count Yorga). Then as now, Hartley was better served on TV than in films. Appearing with regularity on such programs as Twilight Zone and Bonanza, Hartley exuded an intelligence and versatility rare in so young an actress. She gained a following with her recurring role on the nighttime soapera Peyton Place (1965), then provided the only bright moments of the misfire satirical sitcom The Hero (1966), in which she played the wife of a bumbling TV cowboy (Richard Mulligan). Her TV work load increased in the '70s, during which time she appeared as futuristic heroine Lyra-a in Gene Roddenberry's TV pilot Genesis II, a role which gained a great deal of press attention due to Hartley's exotic midriff makeup (her character was endowed with two navels). She also won an Emmy for her appearance in a 1978 installment of The Incredible Hulk. A popular talk-show raconteur, Hartley was able to parlay her no-nonsense persona into a series of lucrative camera commercials, in which she co-starred with James Garner. Her easy rapport with Garner led many to believe that she was married to the Rockford Files star, compelling her to make public appearances wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the message "I am NOT Mrs. James Garner" (she was, in fact, married to producer/director Patrick Boyriven). Her high audience "Q" rating led certain TV producers to believe that Hartley would be ideally cast as a news reporter on the 1983 sitcom Goodnight, Beantown. The casting was good, the show wasn't. Nor were follow-ups in this vein, including a foredoomed hitch as co-host of the 1987 revamping of CBS Morning News titled The Morning Program and the very short-lived newsroom-oriented weekly drama WIOU (1990). That the actress took to kidding about her many TV failures only added to her upbeat public image -- an image which masked a surfeit of grief brought on by the alcoholism and suicide of Hartley's father, which formed the basis of her 1990 book Breaking the Silence. Audiences were able to see this serious side of Mariette Hartley in her frequent TV-movie appearances, notably her performance as grieving mother Candy Lightner in M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Mariette Hartley remained busy on films and in television into the '90s; once again, the TV work was more rewarding than the movie assignments, which included such negligible entertainments as Encino Man (1992). Expand

Mariette Hartley's Scores

  • TV
Average career score: 68
Highest Metascore: 76 Saving Grace: Season 2
Lowest Metascore: 60 9-1-1: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
4 tv reviews
Title: Year: Credit: User score:
60 9-1-1: Season 1 Jan 3, 2018 Abby's Mom / Patricia Clark 6.4
tbd The Mentalist: Season 5 Sep 30, 2012 Elise Vogelson 7.8
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 12 Sep 22, 2010 Lorna Scarry 9.6
tbd Cold Case: Season 6 Sep 28, 2008 Gloria Flagstone tbd
68 Grey's Anatomy: Season 5 Sep 25, 2008 Betty 7.2
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 10 Sep 23, 2008 Lorna Scarry 9.2
76 Saving Grace: Season 2 Jul 14, 2008 Emily Jane Ada 5.4
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 8 Sep 19, 2006 Lorna Scarry / Lorna Scarry 9.4
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 6 Sep 21, 2004 Lorna Scarry / Lorna Scarry 9.5
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 5 Sep 23, 2003 Lorna Scarry / Lorna Scarry 8.6
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 4 Sep 27, 2002 Lorna Scarry / Lorna Scarry 9.5
tbd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 3 Sep 28, 2001 Lorna Scarry 8.7
68 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 1 Sep 20, 1999 Lorna Scarry 8.2
tbd North and South: Season 3 Feb 27, 1994 Prudence tbd
tbd Murder, She Wrote: Season 9 Sep 20, 1992 Susan Lindsay tbd
tbd Diagnosis Murder: Season 1 Jan 5, 1992 Kate Hamilton tbd
tbd The Love Boat: Season 7 Oct 8, 1983 Martha Chambers tbd
tbd The Incredible Hulk: Season 2 Sep 22, 1978 Caroline tbd
tbd M*A*S*H: Season 7 Sep 18, 1978 Dr. Inga Halversen tbd
tbd Columbo: Season 7 Nov 21, 1977 Veronica tbd
tbd Little House on the Prairie: Season 2 Sep 10, 1975 Elizabeth Thurmond tbd
tbd Columbo: Season 3 Sep 23, 1973 Eileen tbd
tbd Emergency!: Season 3 Sep 22, 1973 Vera tbd
tbd The Bob Newhart Show: Season 2 Sep 15, 1973 Marilyn Dietz tbd
tbd Gunsmoke: Season 19 Sep 10, 1973 Ellie tbd
tbd Gunsmoke: Season 18 Sep 11, 1972 Fiona Gideon / Fiona tbd
tbd Bonanza: Season 13 Sep 19, 1971 Lola tbd
tbd Gunsmoke: Season 17 Sep 13, 1971 Kate tbd
tbd Bonanza: Season 11 Sep 14, 1969 Jennifer tbd
tbd Star Trek: Season 3 Sep 20, 1968 Zarabeth 7.2