Maureen Stapleton was not stupid. She was very bright actually but she was also a woman with issues.
Only someone with a very narrow understanding of intelligence would ever call Maureen stupid.
Stage actors particularly the ones who give successful performances regularly are usually highly intelligent. Being a great stage actor requires BOTH a great intuitive ability and an analytical ability. You can be a bit of a dolt and have a director guide you but if you see someone consistently do interesting work onstage they are probably very bright.
I knew Maureen and I have worked with Meryl. Both are highly intelligent women. Meryl is much more guarded but compared to some of the loons I have dealt with, she is pretty down to earth. Meryl does most of her work before she gets on set, she is rather calculating and I have seen other actors put off by what could be described as a kind of upstaging. The remake of Manchurian Candidate is an example of her desperately trying to get the focus of the film on her. Most of her directors are complicit in this agenda and she can appear overdone on screen as a result of this.
Meryl is highly inventive but she calculates every move and she is expert at manipulating directors. Actually, her reputation pre-manipulates directors into wanting her approval and she exploits that to the max.
The thing most people don't know about her is she is VERY competitive with other actors. She doesn't like this about herself and doesn't like for other people to notice it so she makes a show of being a "regular gal" But she plays for keeps when it comes to the work.
Meryl makes a show of being humble but she really isn't. She isn't overly arrogant either but her favorite role is playing "humble star"
Maureen was, in my mind, a much fuller more interesting actress than Meryl is or maybe wants to be because Maureen was spontaneous and allowed herself and others the room to create. She could be crazy but she had a kind of vulnerability and intelligence that was mesmerizing when she was on.
She was not, however, by any measure stupid.
I think the poster who said Ben Walker was in a position to benefit from Meryl's BBQ's was giving a somewhat tongue in cheek metaphor there, not to be taken literally as one poster seems to have done.
The poster who said being Meryl's son in law is a career advantage is right on target for reasons already given here.
Meryl is many things that would surprise her fans but she is not stupid. Mamie is simply not an actress, or at least a very limited one. Meryl has to know that. Grace is actually a little better but nowhere near the level girls her age who actually trained and got an agent on their own merits are.
People here might not be aware that Meryl's agent at CAA took both girls on and he is accountable to momma bear for what he can do for them.
I like Meryl [don't really know Don, but he seems fine] but while she isn't who she seems to be, she is far from stupid.
r121, you are a little frightening with your habit of hanging around stage doors. Mamie's performance in that play was pretty dreadful, so she was probably on target looking at you like you had an agenda.