News Column

Oklahoma-style 'Inside the Actors Studio' to feature Mary Kay Place

April 28, 2013


April 28--When Tulsa acting legend Mary Kay Place considers the idea of an Oklahoma popular culture museum, she can't help but think of all the people, young and old alike, who could learn how Oklahomans have made their mark in the field of entertainment.

"Our state has turned out so many different artists of all types, from film to music to painting to you name it, that it is truly inspiring to me, and I think it is to many people in Oklahoma," Place said in a telephone interview Thursday.

One of those artists is Place, who will be the subject of an Oklahoma-style "Inside the Actors Studio" event May 5 at the Oklahoma History Center.

She will talk about her many films including "Private Benjamin" and "Being John Malkovich" and TV appearances including the HBO series "Big Love."

This event held in conjunction with the "Oklahoma@the Movies" exhibit at the Oklahoma City museum is free to attend, but reservations must be made for the 350 seats available.

An RSVP may be made by emailing Nicole Harvey at for the 7 p.m. event next Sunday evening, with doors opening at 6 p.m. for those wishing to tour the "Oklahoma@the Movies" display.

The Emmy-winning star of film and television will also be announcing her personal donation intended for future display at OKPOP, the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture that is proposed for the Brady Arts District in downtown Tulsa.

She has previously said she considered her "classic moments ... one in film and one in TV" to be her appearance in the Oscar-nominated picture "The Big Chill" and her Emmy-winning portrayal of country singer Loretta Haggers in the 1970s sitcom "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

Naturally, these are the two credits that inspire her current donation to the planned museum, she said, without divulging too many details.

"There's this knitted sweater from 'The Big Chill' that I wore a lot in the film, and I'm not sure why I saved it, but I'm glad I did," she said, keeping it inside in what she describes as "my designated closet, where I keep a few of the unusual things and some vintage clothes."

Place said a key element about honoring Oklahoma culture at the proposed OKPOP -- and it's what she would tell any legislator considering funding for the museum, she said -- is that it's "not about celebrity."

It's about honoring the work itself and how our culture changes, said the Tulsa native who attended Nathan Hale High School and the University of Tulsa, where her father, Brad Place, taught for many years.

"When people write songs and screenplays and the words about a particular time and place -- and it's always about the storytelling -- and then when you have schoolchildren of all ages come to visit, it's a teaching opportunity about how we've evolved as a culture," Place said of the potential of OKPOP.

"Think of (the cable TV show) 'Mad Men' and see how much more conscious we are now since that period. Works of art allow us to engage in a conversation about these stories and how living today compares with a different time."

Place said she was thrilled to learn about a new, important part of Oklahoma culture earlier this year.

She told of her attendance at a pre-Grammy Awards show at the Troubador club in West Hollywood, where she was inspired listening to one of the Grammy nominees: John Fullbright, the 25-year-old Okemah musician nominated for best Americana album.

"This young man was so amazing and so grounded and authentic and I was so excited that he was from Oklahoma and on the national scene," Place said.

"Later I read an article about him and honing his craft, and I was really impressed with his talent and sophistication, and I think there are all kinds of people who have this gift," she said.

"That is what I think is inspiring to young people in Oklahoma who have creative dreams."

Michael Smith 918-581-8479


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