Mary Woronov was born on December 8, 1943, at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. She was raised by her mother, Carol Eschholz, and her stepfather, Victor D. Woronov, a surgeon, who adopted her. She grew up in Brooklyn Heights and attended Cornell University as a sculpting major.
After a class trip to Andy Warhol's Silver Factory, she joined Warhol's entourage and starred in a number of his underground films and appeared as a go-go dancer in the Velvet Underground's Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows. She left the Factory in the late 1960s and, after recovering from a heavy methamphetamine addiction, spent two years in Europe with a friend.
She supported herself with work in off- and off-off-Broadway theater, then married to director/producer Theodore Gershuny. She appeared in three of his films. After the marriage broke up, Woronov moved to Los Angeles at the invitation of friend Paul Bartel, where she appeared on the daytime soap Somerset and had a memorable role in Bartel's Death Race 2000. Her best and most famous role came in 1982, with the part of Mary Bland in Bartel's black comedy Eating Raoul.
A major cult figure as an actress, she is also an accomplished painter and writer, having published three books.