Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon

Active - 1989 - 2023  |   Born - Sep 16, 1964 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

Another Saturday Night Live cast member who has taken her act to the big screen, Molly Shannon is probably best known to TV and film audiences as Mary Katherine Gallagher, the hapless, armpit-sniffing Catholic school girl she originated on SNL and then brought to multiplexes everywhere as the heroine of Superstar.

Born in Shaker Heights, a posh suburb of Cleveland, on September 16, 1964, Shannon developed a proclivity for performing at an early age and dreamt of being famous. After receiving a Catholic school education, she earned a B.F.A. in drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Circle in the Square Studio. Armed with her diploma, she headed West to L.A., where she proceeded to struggle in relative poverty and almost complete obscurity for the next nine years. Although she occasionally found bit parts in film and on such TV series as Seinfeld, Shannon mainly supported herself with odd jobs and waitressing. Finally, in 1994, she got her big break when she won a spot on Saturday Night Live. After making her debut during the 1995 season, Shannon became exceedingly popular with audiences, thanks to her impersonations of the likes of Monica Lewinsky, and Courtney Love.

In 1998, Shannon joined fellow SNL cast members Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan to appear in the disastrous A Night at the Roxbury; the following year, she brought her own alter ego to the screen in Superstar. The film earned drastically mixed reviews, although it did fare somewhat better than any number of other SNL film adaptations. Also in 1999, Shannon played Drew Barrymore's newsroom colleague in Never Been Kissed and had a supporting role alongside Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, and Lisa Kudrow in Analyze This. She subsequently starred alongside Jim Carrey in Ron Howard's 2000 screen adaptation of The Grinch.

She continued to work primarily in comedies including Wet Hot American Summer, Good Boy, American Splendor, Scary Movie 4, Little Man, and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. After a small part in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, she starred in the Mike White film Year of the Dog, and appeared in the big-budget sequel Evan Almighty. She had a short-lived sitcom, Kath & Kim, before appearing in a number of animated films including Igor, Snow Buddies, and Hotel Transylvania. In 2012 she could be seen opposite her old SNL castmate Will Ferrell in the Spanish-language comedy Casa de mi Padre.

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  • Survived an automobile accident at the age of 4 that killed her mother, one of her sisters and a cousin.
  • Took improv classes at NYU with Adam Sandler, whose last season on Saturday Night Live was her first.
  • Came to fame on SNL with characters like Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher and "licensed joyologist" Helen Madden.
  • Appeared in Sheryl Crow's 1997 video for "A Change Would Do You Good."
  • Has an uncredited cameo role in the 2001 Jack Black film Shallow Hal, as Hal's mother.
  • In 2010, she joined the Broadway cast of Promises, Promises as barfly Marge MacDougall.
  • In 2011, published a children's book, Tilly the Trickster, with a title character who is, in Shannon's words, "an imperfectly perfect role model," based on her own kids, who like to play (harmless) tricks. ("Embrace the silliness and fun of life," Shannon suggests.)