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Frances Hardman Conroy (born November 13, 1953) is an American actress and a mainstay of American Horror Story. She portrayed the older version of Moira O'Hara on the first season, subtitled Murder House, Shachath, the Angel of Death, in Asylum, councilor witch Myrtle Snow in Coven, and socialite Gloria Mott in Freak Show. After being absent from the show in its fifth entry, Conroy portrayed an actress re-enacting Mama Polk for the in-universe show My Roanoke Nightmare in the sixth season, Roanoke. She returned with another dark role as cultist Bebe Babbitt in Cult.

Ryan Murphy once again confirmed Frances Conroy's return to the show in its eighth season, titled Apocalypse.[1] She took a particularly notable role in the season despite being credited in a special guest capacity, reprising her roles of Myrtle Snow from Coven and Moira O'Hara from Murder House.

For her roles in Murder House and Coven, she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Background

Conroy was born in Monroe, Georgia, the daughter of Ossie Hardman (née Ray) and Vincent Paul Conroy. Her father, who was of Irish descent, was a business executive and her mother also worked in business. During the 1971–72 school year she was a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she was a member of the Mermaid Players and appeared in college theatrical productions. She moved to New York City to study drama at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Juilliard School. She was a member of Juilliard's Drama Division Group 6 (1973–1977) which also included Kevin Conroy, Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Sansom Harris, and Robin Williams.

Career

During the 1970s, Conroy performed regularly with regional and touring theatrical companies, most notably "The Acting Company", and appeared as "Desdemona" in a production of Othello (with Richard Dreyfuss and Raul Julia) at the Delacorte Theatre. One of her first film appearances was as a Shakespearean actress in Woody Allen's, Manhattan (1979). She made a very well-received Broadway debut in 1980, acting in Edward Albee's The Lady From Dubuque.

In 1992, Conroy became friends with playwright Arthur Miller, leading to her involvement in many of his productions on both stage and screen. During this time, she appeared on television, mini-series, and made-for-TV movies, where she met and married fellow actor Jan Munroe.

She is best known for her role as "Ruth Fisher" on Six Feet Under, which earned her a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award.

Along with many guest appearances on television in the mid-2000s, Conroy was cast in a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother, as Barney Stinson's mother Loretta Stinson.

In 2019, Conroy co-starred in the film Joker (with Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro) an origin story film of the Batman supervillain The Joker. Conroy portrayed the title character's mother Penny Fleck, a role for which she was recommended for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Frances Conroy in American Horror Story

In 2011, she was cast in a new drama series for FX entitled American Horror Story: Murder House. Conroy was one of two actresses, the other being Alexandra Breckenridge, playing the housekeeper and maid named Moira O'Hara of the Murder House. When the season came to an end in 2011, it was announced that the show was intended to be an anthology series, in which each season would be completely different with new characters each season. During this time, Conroy was nominated for a fifth Primetime Emmy Award for the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie category.

For the second season, subtitled Asylum, Conroy re-joined the cast playing The Angel of Death in a multi-episode arc. And in 2013, Conroy once again was cast in the third season, Coven, this time part of the main cast, playing Myrtle Snow, a member of the Witches Council in New Orleans, Louisiana as well as Fiona Goode's rival. She was subsequently nominated for a sixth Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Conroy was also in the fourth season entitled Freak Show, as Gloria Mott, again in the main cast, a wealthy woman whose son wishes to join the titular troupe. Hotel marks Conroy's first absence from the show, but she later returned in the sixth season of the series; Roanoke, in a special guest capacity, as the cruel matriarch of the Polk family, Mama Polk, in the re-enactment half of the season. In the seventh season of the series, Cult, Frances appears once again as a special guest star, as Bebe Babbitt, a sinister extremist lurking in the shadows of cult leaders.

She returned to the eighth season of the series, entitled Apocalypse, reprising her roles as Myrtle Snow from Coven as well as Moira O'Hara from Murder House. Despite being credited as a special guest star, Conroy played a notable role.

Conroy has appeared in seven of the nine seasons of the show, with Hotel and 1984 marking her only absences from the series.

Notes

  • Frances Conroy's characters are antagonistic to Jessica Lange's. The first example is given by the maid Moira O'Hara, who was forced into an affair by Constance Langdon's husband, Hugo, leading to animosity between the two women even after Moira and Hugo were both shot dead by Constance. Although not hostile as Shachath in the second season, Conroy also played an new inmate antagonistic towards Sister Jude. Later in season three, the two actresses portrayed the rival witches, Myrtle Snow, and Fiona Goode. In the fourth season, American socialite Gloria Mott was blatantly contemptuous towards Fräulein Elsa Mars. Conroy and Lange have both expressed a special bond in working together.

Appearances

Murder House

Asylum

Coven

Freak Show

Roanoke

Cult

Apocalypse

Gallery

References

  1. Ryan Murphy Confirms the Return of Beloved AHS Repertory Company for S8:Apocalypse on Twitter (@MrRPMurphy) (2018-08-07).
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