Before becoming a star, Mary worked as a booking agent for an airline, a hat-check and cigarette girl at the Roosevelt Hotel, and as a photojournalist.
At the age of nine, Mary was chosen by Count Basie's Orchestra to perform with them for two shows. Together they performed the song "Little Girl Blue."
Mary's record at the Daytime Emmy Awards is as follows:
- 1977 Nominee; Outstanding Actress
- 1976 Nominee; Outstanding Actress
- 1974 Nominee; Best Actress
All were for her work on Search For Tomorrow.
In 1977, Mary narrated the NBC news documentary Determining Force. In 1980, she released her autobiography, which was entitled Both of Me.
Mary was inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame in 1995.
In 1992, Mary started the New York chapter of BookPALS, an organization of working actors who donate time each week reading books to children in New York City public schools. She remained the chapter's chairperson until her death in 2002.
During her life, Mary battled cancer several times. She was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1999 and at the time of her death was suffering from both bone and gastric cancer. In 1988 she also battled breast cancer.
While in high school, Mary worked to entertain the troops with the USO at all the local military bases.
Mary had two children. Cynthia Stuart who was born in 1955, and Jeffrey Krolik who was born in 1956. Her second pregnancy was written into her character Jo's storyline on Search For Tomorrow.
Mary was discovered by producer Joseph Pasternak. Pasternak gave her a screen test and signed her to a contract with MGM Studios, which lead to small roles in over 20 films.
The 1991 TV movie, Face of a Stranger, was based on an article Mary wrote for New York magazine.
In the mid-50, Mary released a children's album. The album has historical significance, as it was the last 10-inch LP ever to be made.
In 1962, Mary was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series in a Lead Role" for her work on Search For Tomorrow. She was the first daytime performer to ever be nominated.
Mary played the role of 'Jo' on Search For Tomorrow for 35 years, the entire length of the show. The apron she wore on the show is on display in Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Museum.
Mary: (on having cancer) Everything is a little more precious when you have a serious illness. Every day is a miracle. You're very grateful.
Mary: I only stayed in Hollywood for three years. Being a starlet wasn't my thing. There's a lot of hanging around pools. Starlets always drape themselves around somebody's swimming pool. I never remembered to shave my legs or I was sunburned or something.
Mary: (her philosophy on life) Why settle for anything less than wonderful!
Mary: My most prized possessions in this world are my children. I can't believe they are actually mine.