- Sold books at Doubleday while attending the first-year program at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.
- Cofounded and acted with the improv-comedy troupe Cracked Tokens, which performed skits for the halfway houses of NYC's Bureau of Alcoholism.
- Was discovered by Jack Nicholson in the reception room of Paramount's New York office. He later cast her as the lead in his second directorial effort, the 1978 Western Goin' South.
- Along with Alfre Woodard, founded Artists for a Free South Africa in 1989.
- Met second husband Ted Danson in 1994 on the set of the reviled road pic Pontiac Moon.
- Actively participates in charity work, supporting the ASPCA, Heifer International, Oceana and the Young Storytellers Foundation.
- Won two awards for her involvement in social and charitable causes: a Desert AIDS Project Award in 1995 and Liberty Hill Foundation's prestigious Upton Sinclair Award a year later.
- Was appointed the national spokesperson of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 1997.
- 1981, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Winner
- 1988, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee
- 1998, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
- 1986, Genie Awards — Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 1982, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2011, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Winner
- 1979, Golden Globe — New Star of the Year - Actress: Nominee
- 1980, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Winner
- 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- Nell Steenburgen — Mother
- Lilly McDowell — Daughter
- Maurice Steenburgen — Father
- Nancy Kelly — Sister
- Malcolm McDowell — Ex-husband
- Ted Danson — Husband
- Charles McDowell — Son
- Katherine Danson — Stepdaughter
- Alexis Danson — Stepdaughter
- Attended Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas, United States
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