Blythe Danner rejected fame, becoming one of the Seventies' most elusive celebrities

She costarred with Alan Alda in a movie before becoming one of Hawkeye’s lovers on M*A*S*H, but it’s possible her shyness stalled her stardom.

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When Blythe Danner appeared in the 1976 M*A*S*H episode "The More I See You," she played one of Hawkeye’s old flames who he becomes dismayed to learn has married since he saw her last.

For M*A*S*H star Alan Alda, this guest episode with Blythe Danner was a reunion. The pair of award-winning actors had previously starred together in a movie called To Kill a Clown in 1972.

For Danner, the Seventies was a wild time where anything seemed possible after she won a Tony in 1970 for her spectacular performance in the dramatic play Butterflies Are Free.

After winning the Tony, Danner started being offered meatier roles, both onstage and onscreen, but behind the scenes, Danner may not have been ready for the sudden onslaught of attention her new fame had won her, especially when it came to doing interviews.

Danner became uncomfortable with the press after some less-flattering portrayals of her as not-so-bright appeared in magazines, to the point where she rarely did interviews at all.

In 1974, The Daily News convinced Danner to set the record straight on why she stopped doing interviews.

"Privacy is the most important thing to me, particularly if you’re working," Danner said. "I believe in promoting my films, but I always like keeping a lot to myself. I truly dislike sharing anything with anyone except my family."

This shyness to share, she said, came in part from feeling insecure as the youngest of three children at home.

"I’ve always felt a little insecure," she said, admitting that she found it particularly painful to watch herself acting onscreen.

"I can’t bear to see myself on the screen, yet I force myself to go see my films," Danner said. "It’s part of the educative process."

On top of not liking to watch herself in movies or TV shows, Danner didn’t really enjoy her looks, saying, "I certainly don’t look at myself as being pretty or beautiful. I can look 'pretty' if I’m fixed up in a certain way, with a good makeup job or with certain camera angles or hairstyles. But, if you stop to think what angles will make me look at my best or when I am homely, you would never get to the crux of the matter. You’d worry what you look like all the time."

She certainly looked pretty to Hawkeye, who spends the entirety of Danner’s M*A*S*H episode feeling heartbroken having lost her character as the potential love of his life.

Critics in the Seventies expected Danner to become a massive star based on her distinct looks and exceptional talents, but Danner instead became a steady, prolific actor who wouldn’t win her first Emmy until 2006.

It’s possible shying away from media attention hampered her rise to fame, but Danner did not regret the decision.

In her interview from 1974, Danner explained that winning awards mattered less to her than she expected, explaining that it was in motherhood where she experienced deep enthrallment, not at awards ceremonies picking up shiny trophies.

"After I did 'Butterflies,' all those wonderful things began happening to me," Danner said. "Everyone kept saying, 'Aren’t you thrilled about winning the Tony?' I kept thinking, 'Yes, it’s wonderful to have that acknowledgement,' but I didn’t really feel that truly deep gut kind of enthrallment."

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MichaelSkaggs 12 days ago
Not pretty? Miss Danner may want to look in the mirror and see what we see.
jonnieking 13 days ago
Always loved Blythe Danner. Just beautiful. A great actress, classy, she's aged well, and she's got such a great voice ! Her voice is so cool she could melt the hubcaps off of a '53 Buick at 20 paces !!!
Zip 15 days ago
She also had a distinct voice. A voice you remember. I still can her her talking to Hawkeye about why she had to move on, when he obviously hadn't.
AlF 15 days ago
Beauty comes from within. There are externally "unattractive" people who radiate positivity, happiness, and beauty, and there are physically attractive people who radiate ugliness, wickedness, and hatred.
KathleenB 15 days ago
Loved her in The Prince of Tides. When the Nick Nolte character thought of leaving her for a New York psychiatrist, played by Barbra Streisand, I thought of the old Paul Newman line about his wife, Joanne Woodward. Wasn't it something like, "Why would I go out for hamburger when I have steak at home?"
cperrynaples KathleenB 15 days ago
RIGHT! And honestly wouldn't MOST straight men prefer Blythe over Barbra...LOL! One more movie to recommend: Loving Molly from 1974! You'll be surprized when you see how much she looked like her daughter in that movie!
ttenchantr 15 days ago
She also played Will's mother on "Will & Grace" and was twice nominated for an Emmy for it.
Andybandit 15 days ago
Gwyneth paltrow look just like her.
OldTVfanatic Andybandit 15 days ago
I can’t stand Gwyneth Paltrow.
Moody Andybandit 14 days ago
She may look like her mom but her mom has way more class.
Andybandit 15 days ago
She is a great actress. I liked her in Mash.
Peter_Falk_Fan 16 days ago
I thought she was great in the "Columbo" episode 'Étude in Black'.
LoveMETV22 16 days ago
That was a good episode of M*A*S*H. She was really good in Meet the Parent's as Jack's wife
and Meet the Fockers. It would've been interesting to see how her career may have progressed had she not been as elusive or shy.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 16 days ago
Yes she did stop her career for a while, but it was not shyness rather it was raising her children that caused it! Get the facts straight, guys!
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 16 days ago
Who said anything about stopping her career, big difference between progressing and stopping?
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 16 days ago
Checking the wealth of information on both Wikipedia and IMDb. She was a very busy woman with no gaps or minimal gaps between stage, film and television from 1965-2006. Even after 2006-present, she has remained quite active in the industry. Doesn't appear she paused her career when Gwyenth and Jake were born. But MeTV's writer did clearly say she enjoys motherhood more than award ceremonies and shiny trophy's
WordsmithWorks 16 days ago
This was one of my favorite "M*A*S*H*" episodes, despite it being another Hawkeye-centric story. Danner was great in it. She was/is really an under-rated actress. Also great as Will's mom in "Will and Grace."
I said it before and I'll say it again: The MeTV staff don't know their stuff! How can they write a post about Blythe Danner and suggest she was an one-trick pony? Go to her IMDB page and find a wealth of information about her 50-year career!
nd1irish cperrynaples 16 days ago
Why so angry with the MeTV writers? They are giving you FREE articles. If you don’t like ‘em stop reading them. You’re like a person who goes to the same restaurant every day and complains about the food and service every day.
Loved her as Will’s mother.
Pacificsun nd1irish 15 days ago
I am a huge supporter of the MeTV Writers and compliment them frequently (as do many others here). I know how hard writing is, from doing it myself. But a good way to start in terms of creating a profile for any actor is checking their credits and bio, and wiki doesn't hurt either. From there you go on for additional sources, try to build a profile and see how much of it can be corrobrated. I love these stories because so many times it motivates me to look up more about the subject and topic. We'd never get any of this easy feed if it weren't for following the MeTV website.

Thank you to all the MeTV Writers!!
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 15 days ago
I agree. MeTV does an excellent job composing their stories. It would be nice when they quote a source of information specifically a newspaper article and the like if they put a clip of the article in the story (they do sometimes) instead of a link to the source. Personally I don't want to subscribe to newspaper sites to read the info. Other than that they do an impressive job of sharing information that most just wouldn't think of. Their Quizzes are fun too.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 15 days ago
I certainly agree.
That's the beauty of our day of correspondence, which is in those easy reference links!
Boomer cperrynaples 15 days ago
I don’t see ANYWHERE in the MeTv story that says Blythe was a one trick pony style of actress. Then you imply it’s a regular thing for MeTv blog writers to do never mind your other comments. If you dislike MeTv so much and or their blog writers, then push on Karen and keep your negativity to yourself. It’s a very simple process, if you don’t like what they are writing (which seems quite evident), then don’t read it and just go on with your life. Lastly, not saying she was Gwenyths mother was omitted because it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the crux of the story. On top of that, why describe her as another actors mother when she is well accomplished on her own right. SMH🤦🏻‍♂️
Runeshaper 16 days ago
Blythe Danner sounds like a talented individual (-:
cperrynaples Runeshaper 16 days ago
She certainly is! Please read my post below!
cperrynaples 16 days ago
They left out a lot of stuff about Danner! First of all, how could they not say she's Gwynith{SP?} Paltrow's mother? I still remember the SNL where Paltrow did her whole monologue in an English accent and Danner came out to remind her that she's not British! And how about the TV version of Adam's Rib where she did Hepburn opposite Ken Howard's Tracy? Many people thought they were a real couple! In the words of Gomer Pyle, "Shame, Shame, Shame"!
Moody cperrynaples 16 days ago
The role I remember her most from is in Brighton Beach Memoirs with Bob Dishy & Jonathan Silverman. I thought she was great in that movie. The only other movies of hers that I can remember are the Meet the Parents movies with Robert De Niro.
cperrynaples Moody 16 days ago
Yes, and they are not that old! She's still working!
One more thing: Danner and Howard first worked together in "1776" where they played the Jeffersons [the ones from Montecello and not the East Side...LOL!] !
daDoctah cperrynaples 16 days ago
Was going to mention seeing her on Adam's Rib, but you beat me to it. She was also shyly adorable in the original Westworld.

And when Gwyneth made "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", it's the first time I ever thought mother and daughter resembled each other beyond just being willowly blondes. There was one shot in particular where Gwyneth is lit and made up to look *exactly* like her mother.
cperrynaples daDoctah 16 days ago
Mistake here: She wasn't in Westworld, but rather the sequel Futureworld with Peter Fonda and Yul Brynner!
Michael cperrynaples 15 days ago
When I saw this, I instantly thought about her daughter, and that she starred in a series in the seventies. It was Adam's Rib, I had forgotten the title, and was before her MASH appearance.

She had a long career, including a recurring role in another series.

She's instantly recognisable.
Runeshaper cperrynaples 15 days ago
Thanks for all of the extra facts! Super interesting (-:
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