Molly Helen Shannon (born September 16, 1964) is an American comic actress best known for her work as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2001 and for starring in the films Superstar and Year of the Dog. More recently, she starred in NBC's Kath & Kim from 2008 to 2009 and on the TBS animated series Neighbors from Hell. Throughout Shannon's career she has appeared in a number of films in supporting roles.
Shannon was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on September 16, 1964, to an Irish American Catholic family. Her mother, Mary Margaret "Peg" (nÃ©e Keating), was a teacher, and her father, James Francis Shannon, was a sales manager. Shannon was involved in a car accident when she was four years old which killed her mother, younger sister, and cousin. Shannon attended St. Dominic School in Shaker Heights for grade school, and Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio. She attended New York University, where she studied drama and graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1987.
Before Saturday Night Live, Shannon had a struggling career in movies, her most notable being a supporting role as Meg in the 1989 horror film remake of The Phantom of the Opera with Robert Englund. In 1991, she had a brief appearance in the second season of Twin Peaks, and in 1993, she appeared with minor roles in three episodes of In Living Color, the first in a fake TV commercials with Chris Rock (played by Shawn Wayans), the second in a sketch with Jim Carrey, playing LAPD Sergeant Stacey Koon and third being a parody of Star Trek.
Shannon's major break came in February 1995, when she was hired as a featured player on Saturday Night Live to replace Janeane Garofalo after Garofalo left mid-season due to creative differences. Shannon was one of the few cast members to be kept (along with David Spade, Norm Macdonald, Mark McKinney and Tim Meadows) when Lorne Michaels overhauled his cast and writers for season 21 (1995-1996).
She appeared in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Summer of George," where she played Sam, the co-worker who drove Elaine Benes crazy because she did not swing her arms while walking. She also appeared in Sheryl Crow's video for the song "A Change (Will Do You Good)" and played the recurring role of loony neighbor Val Bassett, Grace Adler's nemesis, on Will & Grace, appearing in five episodes over the sitcom's eight-season run. In 1998, she played the role of Emily Sanderson in the film A Night at the Roxbury, featuring Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan who were also cast members of SNL at the time.
In 1999 Shannon starred in Superstar, a feature film based on her most famous SNL character, Mary Katherine Gallagher, the awkward Catholic school student who aspires to be a musical superstar.
Shannon left SNL in 2001, surpassing Victoria Jackson as the show's longest-serving female cast member (she has since been surpassed by Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, and Amy Poehler). In 2003, she appeared in the romantic comedy My Boss's Daughter and the television remake of The Music Man.
In 2004 she starred in a short-lived Fox network television series Cracking Up with actor Jason Schwartzman. That same year, she guest starred in an episode of Scrubs and starred as Mrs. Baker in the film Good Boy!. In 2006, Shannon was featured in the Sofia Coppola directed movie Marie Antoinette as Aunt Victoire. The next year, Shannon guest starred on ABC's Pushing Daisies, and appeared in the film Evan Almighty. Shannon also made a rare move to drama, appearing in the critically acclaimed film Year of the Dog in 2007.
Shannon hosted Saturday Night Live on May 12, 2007, making her the second former female cast member to host (after Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and the first one to have been a cast member for Lorne Michaels (Louis-Dreyfus was a cast member under Dick Ebersol).
In 2008, Shannon starred as Kath in the US version of the hit Australian sitcom Kath & Kim.
In early 2010, Shannon was cast in a recurring role on the Fox television series Glee as Brenda Castle, an astronomy and badminton teacher who has a rivalry with main character Sue Sylvester.
She returned to Saturday Night Live for a special Mother's Day episode on May 8, 2010, and also the October 2010 reunion special "Women of SNL".
Shannon replaced Katie Finneran in the role of Marge McDougall in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises on 12 October 2010, and remained through its closure on 2 January 2011 along with co-stars Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth.
Shannon's first children's book, Tilly the Trickster, was released September 1, 2011.
As of Spring 2012, she has replaced Pauley Perrette as the spokesperson for Expedia.
She was a guest, along with Denis Leary, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on June 9th, 2015.
Shannon married artist Fritz Chesnut on May 29, 2004. They have two children: daughter Stella (b. 2003), and son Nolan (b. 2005).
Saturday Night Live characters
- Mary Katherine Gallagher, Shannon's best known character. An odd, outcast student at a Catholic school who enjoyed performing in the choir and school plays. Shannon starred in a 1999 feature film based on the character.
- Sally O'Malley, a proud 50-year old dancer with a bouffant hairdo, who wore tight red pants and proclaimed how much she loved to "kick, stretch and kick!"
- Circe Nightshade, co-host of "Goth Talk" (with Chris Kattan).
- Miss Colleen, co-host of "Dog Show" (with Will Ferrell).
- Elizabeth, one of the "Southern Gals".
- Helen Madden, an overly exuberant self-proclaimed "Joyologist", who appeared on talk shows with the trademark catchphrase "I love it, I love it, I love it!"
- Veronica Kilvere, an airhead fashion model who hosts the "Veronica & Co." talk show.
- Janette Blow, wife of Joe Blow (played by Colin Quinn) on "The Local News" public-access television cable TV talk show.
- Terri Rialto, co-host of the NPR radio show "Delicious Dish" (with Ana Gasteyer).
- Margaret Healy, a woman who enjoys doing lots of voices and accents.
- Jeannie Darcy, an unfunny mullet-haired stand-up comedian, who ended almost every joke with the phrase "Don't get me started, don't even get me started!"
- Molly Shannon at the Internet Movie Database
- The Career Cookbook Molly Shannon Profile
- Maxim Rated Top SNL performer
- ontheinside.info/Molly Shannon