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Mary Jo Catlett
Mary Jo Catlett with Mrs Puff.jpg
Catlett with her character, Mrs. Puff, at a convention in 2013
Born (1938-09-02) September 2, 1938 (age 85)
Other names Mary Catlett
Occupation Actress
Years active 1962–present

Mary Jo Catlett (born September 2, 1938) is an American actress. She is a main cast member on the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, providing the voice of Mrs. Puff. She is also known for originating the role of Ernestina in the 1964 Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! and for playing Pearl Gallagher, the third housekeeper on Diff'rent Strokes.

Catlett was born in Denver, Colorado, where she performed in a variety of plays and eventually directed a company of Pirates of Penzance. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, she performed in Off-Broadway and Broadway musicals, often taking light-hearted, humorous roles. Since the late 1960s, Catlett has appeared in television shows such as M*A*S*H, The Dukes of Hazzard, and General Hospital. Catlett received Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards in 1978 and 1980, a nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical at the Ovation Awards in 1995, and a Daytime Emmy Award nomination in 1990.

In 1998, Catlett joined the main cast of the then-upcoming cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants as the voice of Mrs. Puff, the title character's driving school teacher, who has become her longest-running and most well-known role. Series creator Stephen Hillenburg had seen Catlett perform on stage and sought her out for the part himself. She quickly accepted and has since voiced Mrs. Puff in every season of the cartoon, in addition to all of the theatrical SpongeBob films and video games. In 2001, she received an Annie Award nomination for her voice-over work as Mrs. Puff.

Early life

Catlett was born in Denver, Colorado, on September 2, 1938, the daughter of Cornelia M. (née Callaghan) and Robert J. Catlett. She has a sister, Patricia Marie, who is a nun with the Dominican Order. Catlett is a Catholic.


In 1974, Catlett originated the role of Mrs. Tiffany in Fashion: or, Life in New York. Her performance was well-received; The New York Times' theater critic Clive Barnes called Catlett and co-star Henrietta Valor "exceptional ... both particular delights," and Jerry Tallmer of the New York Post said that the play's casting was "top-notch, with particular praise from this quarter for Mary Jo Catlett." Catlett would reprise her role in the 1994 revival of Fashion.

Catlett described herself as a character actress. In a 1988 interview with the Orlando Sentinel, she said, "It has been a plus to be a character actress. There are plenty of them out there but far fewer than ingenues and leading ladies, who perhaps eventually become character actresses. But I always was a character actress. I always was round and funny."

the cast of Diff'rent Strokes in 1983

In 1976 and 1980, Catlett received Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for her roles in Come Back, Little Sheba and Philadelphia, Here I Come!, respectively. In 1995, Catlett's role as Madame de la Grande Bouche in Beauty and the Beast earned her a nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical at the Ovation Awards. Catlett became a main cast member on Diff'rent Strokes in its fifth season, playing the third housekeeper, Pearl Gallagher. She also played characters on General Hospital (for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award) and in several episodes of the television sitcom M*A*S*H.

In 1987, Catlett directed a production of Dan Goggin's Nunsense after meeting with Goggin and discussing the character of Sister Mary Regina. It was staged at the Mark Two Dinner Theatre in Orlando, Florida. Catlett decided to play Sister Mary as well, taking on a dual role as both director and performer. She was partially inspired to direct the show after witnessing directors' unfair treatment of her castmates in previous productions. She said, "I have worked with many directors who were tyrannical. You get afraid to do anything because he'll yell, 'Don't do that!' It makes you crazy... as a director, I believe that there can be a democracy."

SpongeBob SquarePants

In 1998, Catlett was cast as the voice of Mrs. Puff, one of the main characters of Nickelodeon's then-upcoming animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. She is one of the show's nine main cast members and has performed in every season, as well as in all of the theatrical SpongeBob films and video games. Mrs. Puff has become her longest-running and most well-known role. Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the cartoon, specifically sought out Catlett to voice Mrs. Puff. He had seen her perform on stage and had a strong vision for Mrs. Puff as a character. Catlett quickly accepted and attended early practice sessions with the rest of the voice cast. Her first official recording as Mrs. Puff took place on August 24, 1998; she recorded dialogue with Tom Kenny as SpongeBob SquarePants and Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick Star in a single booth at Nickelodeon Animation Studio for the episode "Boating School".

In 2001, Catlett was nominated for an Annie Award for her voice-over work as Mrs. Puff, placing in the category "Best Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Production." Kenny was also nominated at the same ceremony, making Catlett and Kenny the first two SpongeBob cast members to be nominated for an award.

As of 2017, voicing Mrs. Puff is Catlett's only regular television role; Catlett described herself as "basically retired" in 2013, since she is good friends with the other SpongeBob cast members, making the SpongeBob recording booth an easy environment that requires less preparation than in-person performances. The About Group's Nancy Basille noted in 2016 that Catlett's "rich, low tones as teacher Mrs. Puff recall other roles she has had," citing Diff'rent Strokes and M*A*S*H as programs on which she had used a similar voice.



Year Title Role Notes
1977 Semi-Tough Earlene Emery
1979 The Champ Josie
1982 The Beach Girls Mrs. Brinker
The Best Little ... in Texas Rita
O'Hara's Wife Gloria
1986 The Mouse and the Motorcycle Kindergarten Teacher
1994 Serial Mom Rosemary Ackerman
2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Mrs. Puff Voice
2006 The Benchwarmers Mrs. Ellwood
2009 Surprise Surprise Winnie Blythman
2014 Let's Be Cops Luigi
Lucky Stiff Old Lady
2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Mrs. Puff Voice
2020 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run Voice
2023 When the Moon Was Twice as Big Elsie Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1975 The Bob Newhart Show Mrs. Engleheart
The Waltons Elvira Roswell
Kojak Verna
1976 How to Break Up a Happy Divorce Soprano
1976–1978 M*A*S*H Becky/Nurse Walsh 3 episodes
1977 Flush Bertha 1 episode
Starsky and Hutch Fifi (Hutch's maid)
1978 Fantasy Island Hooligan Hanreddy/Carlotta Smith 3 episodes
1979 The Dukes of Hazzard Cousin Alice 1 episode
1981 Gimme A Break Betty
Foul Play Stella Finkle
1981–1989 The Smurfs Additional voices Various episodes
1982–1986 Diff'rent Strokes Pearl Gallagher Main cast, seasons 5–8
1986 ALF Mary Jo 1 episode
1987 Murder, She Wrote Mrs. Metcalf
1989–1990 General Hospital Mary Finnegan 2 episodes
1989 Night Court Cynthia Dobby
1993 Bonkers Helga Voice; 1 episode
1994 Saved by the Bell: The New Class Mrs. Bluntley
1996 Quack Pack The Claw's mother Voice 1 episode
1999 Rugrats Doreen 1 episode
1999–present SpongeBob SquarePants Mrs. Puff Voice; main cast
2004 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Witch Voice; 1 episode
Lloyd in Space Mrs. Horton
2004–2005 That's So Raven Mrs. Applebaum 4 episodes
2007 State of Mind Mrs. DelVecchio 1 episode
Kim Possible Aunt June Voice; 1 episode
American Dad! Store Owner
2009 Days of Our Lives Bev 1 episode
Cold Case Betty Joe Henders '09
2010 Glee Mrs. Carlisle
2011 2 Broke Girls Elaine
2012 Shake It Up Elderly Woman
Desperate Housewives Debi Brown
2013 The Mentalist Ruth
Mr. Box Office Gertrude Episode: "Fifty Shades of Gray Hair"
Modern Family Edith Episode: "Goodnight Gracie"
Rizzoli & Isles Bunny 1 episode
2014 Instant Mom Mrs. Sharp
2015 The McCarthys Mrs. Murphy
2016 The Odd Couple Elderly Woman
Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ Ethel Simmons
2017 Trial & Error Brianne
Billy Dilley's Super-Duper Subterranean Summer Aunt Agnes Voice; episode: "Billy/Willie"
Great News Marie 1 episode
2018 The Kids Are Alright Mrs. Strausser
2019 Better Things Rosie
2020–2021 Good Girls Dorothy 2 episodes
2021–present Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years Mrs. Puff Voice
The Patrick Star Show Voice; 3 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2001 SpongeBob SquarePants: Operation Krabby Patty Mrs. Puff Voice
2003 SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
2005 SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants!
2005 SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab
2006 SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab
2010 SpongeBob's Boating Bash
2013 SpongeBob Moves In!
2020 SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated Reused dialogue from the original game
2023 SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake Voice
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2


Year Title Role Notes
1964–1970 Hello, Dolly! Ernestina Broadway, tour
1969 Canterbury Tales Housewife, Village Girl and Parishioner
1972 Different Times Hazel Hughes and child Broadway
Lysistrata Deltazeta
1974 Fashion Mrs. Tiffany, Evelyn
1989 The Pajama Game Mabel Broadway
1991 Lend Me a Tenor Julia
1982 Play Me a Country Song Penny Broadway (one performance)
1994 Beauty and the Beast Madame de la Grande Bouche Los Angeles
1998 The Music Man Eulalie Shinn
2011 The Wedding Singer Rosie

See also

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