Mari Jászai (born Mária Krippel) was born on 24 February 1850 in Ászár, Komárom county, as a daughter of a carpenter.
She worked from age 10 as a maidservant, both in Budapest and Vienna, assisting soldiers as a sutling wench in the Battle of Königgrätz. In 1866, aged 16, she fled to the touring company of Gusztáv Hubay in Székesfehérvár, and began to work as an extra. By 1867 she already acted on stages of Buda, and from 1868, in the theatre of Cluj-Napoca.
Playing over 300 roles, she also translated a number of works, including Henrik Ibsen"s John Gabriel Borkman.
The theatre of Tatabánya is named after her, as are numerous public places in Budapest, and one of the premier award of national dramatic artists, the Jászai Mari Award.
Jászai became a member of the National Theatre in 1872, where she remained until her death (except for the 1900 season, working in Vígszínház theatre). A permanent member of the National Theatre since 1901, Mari Jászai became one of the most influential actor in the Hungarian theatrical world.