Mary Mara, a character actress who appeared on television shows including “Nash Bridges,” “Dexter” and “ER” in a career that spanned more than 30 years, has died in upstate New York. She was 61.
The death was announced by the New York State Police, who said that Ms. Mara’s body was found on Sunday morning in the St. Lawrence River near Cape Vincent, NY, near the Canadian border, and that a preliminary investigation suggested that she had drowned while swimming.
She lived in Cape Vincent.
Ms. Mara was born on Sept. 21, 1960, in Syracuse, NY, to Roger Mara, the former director of special events for the New York State Fair, and Lucille Mara, an accountant. Her brother, Roger, who was a puppeteer, told The San Francisco Examiner in 1996 that he and Mary were encouraged by their mother’s flair for the dramatic.
After graduating from Corcoran High School in Syracuse, Ms. Mara studied at San Francisco State University and later earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the Yale School of Drama. Her career she dabbled in theater, most notably in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Twelfth Night,” alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, in 1989.
That same year, she had her first onscreen credit, in the television movie “The Preppie Murder,” based on the true story of a young woman’s murder in New York. In 1992 she appeared in “Love Potion No. 9″ and “Mr. Saturday Night,” in which Billy Crystal starred as a veteran stand-up comedian. Ms. Mara played his estranged daughter.
Her other films included the 2008 horror movie “Prom Night.”
She was perhaps best known for her recurring roles on “ER,” in which she played a patient, Loretta Sweet, from 1995-96, and on “Nash Bridges,” in which she played Inspector Bryn Carson from 1996-97.
She once said she thought her character had been overshadowed by the male detectives played by Don Johnson and Cheech Marin on the latter show.
“It is a male-dominated show with Don and Cheech the principals,” she told The Post-Standard of Syracuse in 1999. Although the show’s writers “started to write for me really well about halfway through the season,” she added, the producers “were afraid I would stand out too much.”
Ms. Mara later appeared on “Dexter,” “Ray Donovan,” “Bones,” “Star Trek: Enterprise” and other shows. Her last credit was in the 2020 movie “Break Even.”
In a statement, Ms. Mara’s manager, Craig Dorfman, described her as “electric, funny and a true individual.”
Her survivors include a stepdaughter, Katie Mersola, and two sisters, Martha Mara and Susan Dailey, according to Variety.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.