Mary Grady, a former longtime resident of Three Rivers and one of Hollywood’s premiere child talent agents, died of natural causes on Thursday, January 7, 2021, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. She was 96. Obituary | Mary Grady
Born Mary Biaggina Castellino in Petaluma, California, Mary was a child performer and a lyric soprano who at 17 was offered an opportunity to train at the Pasadena Playhouse. She declined and, in 1942, married her high school boyfriend Lou Agrati. Obituary | Mary Grady
The couple’s first child, son Don, was born in 1944. By age 10, Don could play several musical instruments so when Mary saw an advertisement in a local newspaper that Walt Disney Studios was holding auditions for young singers and dancers, she took Don on the audition. He soon was cast as one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club. When the series ended after four seasons, Don Grady was cast as middle child Robbie on the warm-hearted sitcom My Three Sons.
By that time, Mary, now divorced, had sought additional income to support her family, which also included daughters Marilou and Lani. She found work as a children’s talent agent, and Dorothy Shaw, a casting director at Warner Bros. Studios, became a mentor. After working at two more agencies, Mary opened her own agency in 1960, Mary Grady Agency (now MGA), and soon established herself as a leading agent for child actors. Obituary | Mary Grady
Clients who were given early career starts by Mary and would go onto adult stardom included Paul Walker, Penny Marshall, Nick Nolte, Tim Van Patton, Michael Clark Duncan, and the Daytime Emmy-winning actress Ellen Wheeler. A much-abridged list of her clients includes Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair), Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on the Prairie), Erin Moran (Happy Days), Brandy (Moesha), Tony O’Dell (Head of the Class), Morgan Brittany (The Dream Merchants), Butch Patrick (The Munsters), Kristie Swanson (Buffy and The Vampire Slayer), Dustin Diamond (Saved By The Bell), Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes), Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen (Full House), Jeremy Jackson (Baywatch) and Mary McDonough (The Waltons).
Mary’s star clients also included two of her own children: Don Grady, an original Mouseketeer who later played Robbie on My Three Sons, and Lani O’Grady, who portrayed Mary on Eight Is Enough. Both preceded their mother in death: Don in 2012 and Lani in 2001. Obituary | Mary Grady
“Mary Grady was one of the first pioneers and a legend in Hollywood for representing amazing young actors,” said her friend and talent agent, Cindy Osbrink. “She had an incredible zest for life and was always ready to have fun. She would fight to the end for what she believed in, powered by her huge heart. She was a huge role model in my life as a caring agent but more important on how to live life.”
Mary resided in Three Rivers for 25 years, purchasing a riverfront home in the 1970s. The beach house was built in the 1920s and today is owned by Mars Roberts, who since 2008 has operated Rio Sierra Riverhouse there. Family times in Three Rivers will always be the best memories, and Mary will always be remembered by her family as “the most amazing Mom and Gammy FIRST!”
Mary is survived by daughter Marilou; son-in-law Merl; daughter-in-law Ginny; grandchildren Kelly, Joey, and Tessa; and great-grandchildren Everly and Emma.
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