Alice Hirson - Keeps nurturing her gifts!

Alice Hirson - Keeps nurturing her gifts!

First Published: September 2001
Alice Hirson | "Full House" (1987)

Alice Hirson | "Full House" (1987)

Stephen Elliott, Alice Hirson | "Eminent Domain" Matrix Theater (1983) **
Norbert Weisser, Stephen Elliott, Alice Hirson | "Eminent Domain" Matrix Theater (1983) **
Candace Cameron (Bure), Alice Hirson | "Full House" (1987) *
Alice Hirson | "Being There" (1979)
Alice Hirson | "Matlock: Diary of a Perfect Murder" (1986)
Ellen DeGeneres, Alice Hirson | "Ellen" (1994)
Ellen DeGeneres, Alice Hirson | "Ellen" (1994)
Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Gilborn, Alice Hirson | "Ellen" (1994)
Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Gilborn, Alice Hirson | "Ellen" (1994)
Alice Hirson | Working Actor
Alice Hirson | Working Actor
Alice Hirson | Working Actor
Alice Hirson | Working Actor
Alice Hirson | Working Actor
Alice Hirson | Working Actor

Alice Hirson was born on March 10, 1929 in New York City as Alice C. Thorsell. She is an actress, known for "The Glass House", "Being There" and "Revenge of the Nerds". She is the widow of actor Stephen Elliott see August 2001 whom she met while both were appearing on Broadway in "Traveller Without Luggage" in 1964. She has two sons from her first marriage to writer Roger O. Hirson; David Hirson a playwrite, and Christopher Hirson.

Alice is a character actress best known for playing Ellen DeGeneres' mom on the comedienne's sitcom, "Ellen" from 1994-1998, and was a guest star on Full House (1987) as Danny Tanner's mother. She was the very first character to appear on screen in the first episode of that series see videos below.

Alice has had a long and sustaining career as a Working Actor. She has performed in all mediums from stage, to large and small screen. Her range spans the full gamut from comedy to serious drama.

Her roots are rather auspicious as her launch into the craft was rather immediate but then the realities of sustaining a career suddenly became all to real.

Rather than continue with our traditional bio presentation, we felt it appropriate to present the transcript of her closing remarks before the 1997 graduating class of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts/West held at the Academy Plaza Theater. Ms. Hirson is an alumni of that institution.

Alice's comments were preceded by the principle address given by Tom Poston. Here is the transcript of her June 14, 1997 speech........

quote-leftThank you, I'm a little intimidated by some of the things Tom [Poston] said before. but I'm going to barrel in there anyway. I just want to share with you, really, a story about what happened to me almost directly after my graduation from the Academy a hundred years ago. [Laughter] Mike Thoma (I hope I don't get to sloppy and sentimental here), who was one of my dearest friends and classmates, had already gotten a job at the New Angora Playhouse in Pennsylvania, and it was an Equity theatre. He called me up, all excited, and he said, "Go borrow some money, get the bus and come on up here, because there's an opening for an apprentice here, and you'll get your Equity card by the end of summer". And so I did that. I borrowed some money from my mother and dad again, took the bus to New Angola, arrived there one evening, and the next morning I was put to work right away painting scenery and watching the rehearsals for the opening show, which was to be "For Love Or Money", and it was with real, professional New York actors -- I mean, it was thrilling.

And so, as luck would have it (and I know you're not going to believe this -- you're really not going to believe this), one morning, three days before they were to open, the leading lady did not appear for rehearsals, and there was a note in her dressing room that just said, "i've gone back to New York." [Laughter] And I've always thought that perhaps Mike put something in her tea. [Laughter] But my hero, Mike, my beautiful Mike, went to the producers and the director, and he said, "Now, look, I know she hasn't got experience and I know she's a tad young for the part, but believe me, she can play that part." Well they, I guess, had no choice, and Mike was very persuasive, and also they only had three days. So Mike sat up with me for three days and nights working on those lines, rehearsing with me, and then came the opening night. And I kid you not, I thanked Mr. Jehlinger, Miss Strauss, Mr. Richards, every one of those wonderful people that I've worked with at the Academy, for preparing me for this momentous thing that was happening to me. And I opened, and it was, believe me, magical. I mean, it was everything you ever think it's going to be. It was magical. A star was born -- truly! [Laughter]

And in the audience, unbeknownst to me, was a very big New York agent -- and I know you're not going to believe this either -- Stephen Draper and Olga Lee, who were really big New York agents. And they came backstage and they signed me that night. I finished the season in New Angora, and with my Equity card in my hand I went back to take Broadway by storm. I mean, what was all this talk at the Academy graduation about how hard it was going to be? [Laughter] I mean, it was a cinch. It just, whoosh Just like that! Overnight! Well, I guess that Broadway hadn't really heard about me in New Angola, Pennsylvania. Because I think my next appearance was at F.A.O. Schwartz selling toys, so I could pay the rent. And everything they sent me on I was rejected for. But thank God I had the courage to stick with it. I know that some of you out here will probably, maybe, become stars overnight; it does happen. But for most of us, it's a thing of going through getting jobs, not getting jobs, being rejected. Just please, please -- always -- just please remember: every gift you've been given here at the Academy, keep nurturing it. Like a dancer has to work everyday, you have to work every day. Just keep remembering, working, watching people. Keep reading, doing., Don't sit home feeling sorry for yourself, and don't wait for the phone to ring. Take extra jobs, do what you can. I was lucky enough to get a soap opera which afforded me not only to be able to do theatre as well, but also to raise a family, to be a person, to keep in touch with all of my wonderful friends -- and they are still my friends -- from the Academy. And except for the pride I feel in my sons, I am proudest to be standing here today in front of all of you -- I hope I don't get too sentimental -- but to stand here in front of you and say, "Here I am," today, this old lady who's still working and still intends to work, and doing something that I've always loved doing most. And I wish for you the very same. I wish that you will have all of the good luck that I had, and that you will find the joy that I have had in this very, very tough but very, very wonderful life that we've chosen. God bless you. [Applause and cheers]

Alice Hirson's advice [from above] to the aspiring actor:

please remember: every gift you've been given, keep nurturing it. Like a dancer has to work everyday, you have to work every day. Just keep remembering, working, watching people. Keep reading, doing, Don't sit home feeling sorry for yourself, and don't wait for the phone to ring. Take extra jobs, do what you can.


Talent Agency

BRS / Gage Talent Agency
6300 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1430
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: 323-857-6666
Fax: 323-857-0368
Representatives: Amy Abell-Rosenfield, David Shaul, Sarabeth Schedeen

Talent Agent Voice

Arlene Thornton & Associates
12711 Ventura Blvd. Ste 490
Studio City, CA 91604
Phone: 818-760-6688
Fax: 818-760-1165
Representative: Arlene Thornton (
Alice Hirson's Credits

 2019 Will & Grace (TV Series) 
Justice Ginsburg 

- Supreme Courtship (2019) ... Justice Ginsburg (voice)

2014 Night Vet (Short)

 2014 Murdered: Soul Suspect (Video Game)
Additional Voices (voice)

 2008-2012 The Secret Life of the American Teenager (TV Series)

- Hedy's Happy Holiday House (2012) ... Mimsy
- I Do and I Don't... (2012) ... Mimsy
- Hole in the Wall (2011) ... Mimsy
- Ben There, Done That (2010) ... Mimsy
- The Big One (2009) ... Mimsy
 2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Video Game)
Addict / Agnis / Alexia Vici / ... (voice)

 2011 Men of a Certain Age (TV Series)

- A League of Their Owen (2011) ... Connie
- Let the Sunshine In (2011) ... Connie

 1974-2011 One Life to Live (TV Series)
Eileen Riley Siegel

- Episode #1.1414 (2011) ... Eileen Riley Siegel
- Episode #1.1396 (2011) ... Eileen Riley Siegel
- Episode #1.1307 (2011) ... Eileen Riley Siegel
- Episode #1.1158 (2011) ... Eileen Riley Siegel
- Episode #1.1140 (2011) ... Eileen Riley Siegel
 2010 Bathtub Picnic (Short)
 2010 StarStruck (TV Movie)
Grandma Olson
 2009 Slice of Water (Short)

 2008 Cold Case (TV Series)
Judy McShane

- Glory Days (2008) ... Judy McShane

 1996-2006 7th Heaven (TV Series)
Jenny Jackson / Deceased Jenny Jackson

- Christmas! (2006) ... Deceased Jenny Jackson
- Moving Ahead (2006) ... Jenny Jackson
- We Do (2003) ... Jenny Jackson
- V-Day (2001) ... Jenny Jackson
- In Praise of Women (1999) ... Deceased Jenny Jackson
 2006/II The Lost
Mrs. Griffith

 2003 Just Shoot Me! (TV Series)
Helen Korsh

- The Last Temptation of Elliot (2003) ... Helen Korsh

 2000-2002 Baby Blues (TV Series)
Mrs. Johnson

- The Bad Family (2002) ... Mrs. Johnson (voice)
- Rodney Has Two Daddies (2000) ... Mrs. Johnson (voice)
- Bizzy Moves In (2000) ... Mrs. Johnson (voice)

 2001 Judging Amy (TV Series)
Alison Loomis

- Surprised by Gravity (2001) ... Alison Loomis
 2001 The Glass House
Mrs. Morgan

 2001 NYPD Blue (TV Series)
Karen Redding

- In the Wind (2001) ... Karen Redding
 2000 Psyko Ferret (TV Movie)
Old Lady Veinous (voice)

 2000 Godzilla: The Series (TV Series)
Peg Chapman

- Wedding Bells Blew (2000) ... Peg Chapman (voice)

 1999 ER (TV Series)
Mrs. Anderson

- Last Rites (1999) ... Mrs. Anderson

 1994-1998 Ellen (TV Series)
Lois Morgan

- Vows (1998) ... Lois Morgan
- Ellen: A Hollywood Tribute: Part 2 (1998) ... Lois Morgan
- Hospital (1998) ... Lois Morgan
- The Funeral (1998) ... Lois Morgan
- All Ellen, All the Time (1997) ... Lois Morgan

 1990-1996 Murphy Brown (TV Series)
Bootsie Sherwood

- All in the Family (1996) ... Bootsie Sherwood
- Goin' to the Chapel: Part 2 (1990) ... Bootsie Sherwood
- Goin' to the Chapel: Part 1 (1990) ... Bootsie Sherwood
 1993 Stepmonster (Video)

 1993 Law & Order (TV Series)

- Right to Counsel (1993) ... Jewel

 1992 Home Fires (TV Series)

- Sibling Revelry (1992) ... Grandma
- A Bench Too Far (1992) ... Grandma
- Fathers and Sons (1992) ... Grandma
- Marriage by the Book (1992) ... Grandma
- Madonna and Child Reunion (1992) ... Grandma

 1991 Dear John (TV Series)
Mrs. Morris

- Brothers (1991) ... Mrs. Morris
 1990 Psycho IV: The Beginning (TV Movie)
Mother (voice)

 1990 Equal Justice (TV Series)
Mrs. Williams

- The Price of Justice (1990) ... Mrs. Williams

 1990 Mancuso, FBI (TV Series)

 1989 The Big Picture
Mrs. Chapman

 1987-1988 Houston Knights (TV Series)
John's Wife

- For Caroline (1988)
- Houston's Hero (1987) ... John's Wife

 1982-1988 Dallas (TV Series)
Mavis Anderson

- Malice in Dallas (1988) ... Mavis Anderson
- Farlow's Follies (1988) ... Mavis Anderson
- The Best Laid Plans (1988) ... Mavis Anderson
- Brotherly Love (1988) ... Mavis Anderson
- Anniversary Waltz (1988) ... Mavis Anderson

 1987 Full House (TV Series)
Claire Tanner

- Unaired Pilot (1987) ... Claire Tanner (uncredited)
- The Return of Grandma (1987) ... Claire Tanner
- Our Very First Show (1987) ... Claire Tanner

 1986-1987 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (TV Series)
Mrs. Hooter / Judge Rosenstiel

- Bride of Boogedy (1987) ... Mrs. Hooter
- A Fighting Choice (1986) ... Judge Rosenstiel
 1987 Blind Date
Muriel Bedford

 1987 Starman (TV Series)
Ida Schwartzman

- Barriers (1987) ... Ida Schwartzman

 1986 Crossings (TV Mini-Series)
Eleanor Roosevelt

- Episode #1.2 (1986) ... Eleanor Roosevelt

 1986 If Tomorrow Comes (TV Mini-Series)
Mrs. Stanhope

- Episode #1.1 (1986) ... Mrs. Stanhope

 1986 Matlock (TV Series)

- Diary of a Perfect Murder (1986) ... Hazel

 1986 Foley Square (TV Series)
Mrs. Dobbs

- The Star (1986) ... Mrs. Dobbs

 1985 The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (TV Series)

- It's a Wonderful Scoob (1985) ... (voice)
 1985 Slickers (TV Movie)
Dear Clinton

 1985 Hotel (TV Series)
Helen Riley

- Skeletons (1985) ... Helen Riley
 1984 Mass Appeal
Mrs. Hart
 1984 Revenge of the Nerds
Mrs. Lowe

 1983 Trauma Center (TV Series)

- Shock Waves (1983)
 1983 Sitcom (TV Movie)
Betty Gooseberry
 1983 Loving (TV Series)
Lisa Helman (1993)

 1983 St. Elsewhere (TV Series)
Anne Overland

- Release (1983) ... Anne Overland

 1977-1983 Quincy M.E. (TV Series)
Professor Emerson / Mrs. Foyt / Jane Davis

- Cry for Help (1983) ... Professor Emerson
- Gentle Into That Good Night (1981) ... Mrs. Foyt
- The Deadly Connection (1977) ... Jane Davis
 1982 Miss All-American Beauty (TV Movie)
Marjorie Butterfield

 1982 General Hospital (TV Series)
Mrs. Van Gelder

- Episode dated 30 November 1982 (1982) ... Mrs. Van Gelder
- Episode #1.5102 (1982) ... Mrs. Van Gelder
- Episode dated 30 April 1982 (1982) ... Mrs. Van Gelder
- Episode #1.4821 (1982) ... Mrs. Van Gelder
 1982 The Rules of Marriage (TV Movie)
Eva Hewlitt

 1981 Barney Miller (TV Series)
Dorothy St. Clair

- The Vests (1981) ... Dorothy St. Clair

 1981 Taxi (TV Series)
Woman Customer

- On the Job: Part 1 (1981) ... Woman Customer

 1981 Flamingo Road (TV Series)
Mary Troy

- A Mother's Revenge (1981) ... Mary Troy
 1980 Private Benjamin
Mrs. Thornbush

 1980 When the Whistle Blows (TV Series)
Dottie Jenkins

- Beauty Pageant (1980) ... Dottie Jenkins
- God's Country (1980) ... Dottie Jenkins
- Wildcatters (1980) ... Dottie Jenkins
 1980 If Things Were Different (TV Movie)
Karen Evans

 1979 Having Babies (TV Series)

- Captive (1979) ... Emily
 1979 Being There
First Lady

 1979 ABC Afterschool Specials (TV Series)
Grace Harris

- A Special Gift (1979) ... Grace Harris

 1979 Paris (TV Series)
Mrs. Dalton

- Friends and Enemies (1979) ... Mrs. Dalton
 1979 Nightwing
Claire Franklin

 1979 The Ropers (TV Series)
Mrs. Eastham

- The Doris Letters (1979) ... Mrs. Eastham

 1978 A Woman Called Moses (TV Series)
Miss Rodham

- Episode #1.2 (1978) ... Miss Rodham
- Episode #1.1 (1978) ... Miss Rodham

 1978 Barnaby Jones (TV Series)
Emily Warren

- Nest of Scorpions (1978) ... Emily Warren
 1978 Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid (TV Movie)
Beth Dozier

 1978 Family (TV Series)
Ruth Green

- Fear of Shadows (1978) ... Ruth Green
 1978 Loose Change (TV Mini-Series)

 1977 The Waltons (TV Series)
Jane Stephens

- The Battle of Drucilla's Pond (1977) ... Jane Stephens
- The Career Girl (1977) ... Jane Stephens
 1977 Having Babies II (TV Movie)
 1977 Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn (TV Movie)
Judge White

 1977 Maude (TV Series)
Ed's Wife

- Maude's Reunion (1977) ... Ed's Wife
 1977 The Death of Richie (TV Movie)
Mrs. Blair
 1972 Particular Men (TV Movie)
Louisa Rayner

 1970 Another World (TV Series)
Marsha Davis

- Episode #1.1658 (1970) ... Marsha Davis
- Episode #1.1619 (1970) ... Marsha Davis
- Episode #1.1617 (1970) ... Marsha Davis
- Episode #1.1616 (1970) ... Marsha Davis
- Episode #1.1614 (1970) ... Marsha Davis
 1970 Somerset (TV Series)
Marsha Davis (1970-1972) (original cast)
 1956 The Edge of Night (TV Series)
Stephanie Martin (1969-1970)
 1952 Anne Bradstreet, Puritan Poetess (TV Movie)
Lucy (as Alice Thorsell)

 1951 Starlight Theatre (TV Series)

- Miss Buell (1951) ... Alice (as Alice Thorsell)

 Photo camera Credits 
Transcript provided by A. Hirson
* © 2010 - American Broadcasting Co.
** © Photos by Judee Gustafson - Matrix Theater Company

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