Southern-bred Mary-Louise Parker, from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, was born on August 2, 1964, the youngest of the family's brood. She showed potential in her teens and majored in acting in her college years, graduating from the North Carolina School of the Arts. She decided to test the waters in New York, and after work on the off-Broadway stage in the late 1980s, made her Broadway debut with "Prelude to a Kiss" in 1990, where she won the Theatre World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and a Tony nomination. Films and TV quickly followed. She provided both poignant and amusing moments as the token femme friend to a group of gay men in the AIDS drama Longtime Companion (1989), but really caught fire with her feisty, standout performance in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), holding her own against such female powerhouses as Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates and Mary Stuart Masterson. Dubbed by some as the "long-suffering girl next door", she played such noble miserables and cast-asides in Grand Canyon (1991), Naked in New York (1993), Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Boys on the Side (1995), in which she was the AIDS victim this time, and Let the Devil Wear Black (1999). Preferring quality over quantity, she perfected her craft with offbeat roles in independent features and did not abandon her theater roots. She copped a slew of acting prizes for her stage work in "How I Learned to Drive" (1996) and, most notably, "Proof" in 2000, wherein she won nearly every award there is to attain, including the prestigious Tony. Her marquee name still does not command what it should, but a picture or production with Mary-Louise Parker in it usually guarantees a strong critical reception. Unmarried, she did enter into a longtime companionship with actor Billy Crudup after the twosome appeared opposite each other in the 1996 play "Bus Stop". They went their separate ways in 2003.