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Molly Shannon
Shannon in 2023
Molly Helen Shannon

(1964-09-16) September 16, 1964 (age 59)
Alma mater New York University
  • Actress
  • comedian
Years active 1987–present
Fritz Chesnut
(m. 2004)
Children 2

Molly Helen Shannon (born September 16, 1964) is an American actress and comedian. Shannon was a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2001. In 2017, she won the Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Other People.

She has appeared in supporting roles in a number of films, such as Happiness (1998), A Night at the Roxbury (1998), Never Been Kissed (1999), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Wet Hot American Summer (2001), reprising her character in the miniseries Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015) and its follow-up Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (2017), Osmosis Jones (2001), My Boss's Daughter (2003), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Evan Almighty (2007), and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). Her voice can also be heard in the animated films Igor (2008) and the Hotel Transylvania film series (2012–2022). In television, Shannon is known for her roles in Enlightened (2013), Divorce (2016–2019), The Other Two (2019-2022), The White Lotus (2021) and I Love That for You (2022).

Early life

Shannon was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 16, 1964, to an Irish-American Catholic family, and grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Her mother, Mary Margaret "Peg" (née Keating), was a teacher, and her father, James Francis Shannon, was a sales manager. Her maternal grandparents were born in Ireland, with her grandfather being from Cloghmore, Achill, Mayo. .....

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 worked as a hostess at Cravings restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and as a food demo girl at Gelson's super market in Marina Del Rey. She auditioned for her first big film role and was cast, playing the supporting part of 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 as "the happy helping hand lady", and in 1993, she appeared with minor roles in three episodes of In Living Color, the first in a fake TV commercial with Shawn Wayans playing Chris Rock, 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 (1995–96).

She appeared in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld titled "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. She also appeared in Sex and the City in a number of episodes.

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.

During her run on SNL, Shannon also starred in the movie Never Been Kissed (1999), How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Osmosis Jones (2001) and Serendipity opposite Kate Beckinsale (2001). Shannon left SNL in 2001. In 2003, she appeared in the romantic comedy My Boss's Daughter and the television remake of The Music Man.

Fritz Chesnut and Molly Shannon portrait 2009
Fritz Chesnut and Shannon in 2009.

In 2004, she starred in a short-lived Fox network television series Cracking Up with actor Jason Schwartzman created by Mike White. 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 Mike White's film Year of the Dog in 2007. In 2013, Shannon joined White again, playing his love interest Eileen in the HBO show Enlightened, for which she was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding guest actress.

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).

Molly Shannon 2 Oct 2011
Shannon at the Orange County, California, Children's Book Festival on October 2, 2011, promoting her first children's book, Tilly the Trickster.

In 2008, Shannon starred as Kath in the American 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 October 12, 2010, and remained through its closure on January 2, 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.

In 2015, Shannon starred in the Sundance premiere of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. She was a guest, along with Denis Leary, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on June 9, 2015.

In 2016, Shannon co-starred in the HBO comedy Divorce opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church.

Shannon won the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the highly acclaimed drama, Other People. She had two films premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival: The Little Hours and Fun Mom Dinner.

In 2018, Shannon co-hosted the Rose Parade with Will Ferrell on Amazon Prime Video in character as fictional local television personalities, Tish and Cord. In 2018, Shannon and Ferrell co-hosted HBO's broadcast of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as their characters Tish and Cord.

In 2018, Shannon co-starred in the critically acclaimed Netflix film Private Life, playing prickly Cynthia, opposite Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti and Kayli Carter.

In 2022, Shannon released Hello, Molly!: A Memoir (ISBN: 9780063056251) that discussed how family tragedy affected her career.

In 2022, Shannon co-starred in the Showtime comedy television series I Love That for You alongside fellow former Saturday Night Live alum Vanessa Bayer.

Personal life

Shannon married artist Fritz Chesnut on May 29, 2004. Together, they have two children.


Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1989 The Phantom of the Opera Meg (New York)
1995 Return to Two Moon Junction Traci
1996 Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace Homeless Lady
1997 Dinner and Driving Arguing Woman in Cafe
1998 Happiness Nancy
A Night at the Roxbury Emily Sanderson
The Thin Pink Line Aanl
1998 Daydream Believer Susan Bradley Short film
1999 Analyze This Caroline
Never Been Kissed Anita
My Neighbors the Yamadas Matsuko Yamada Japanese animated film; English version, Voiceover
Superstar Mary Katherine Gallagher
2000 My 5 Wives Dr. Van Dyke
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Betty Lou Who
2001 Wet Hot American Summer Gail von Kleinenstein
Osmosis Jones Mrs. Boyd
Serendipity Eve
Shallow Hal Mrs. Mary Larson
2002 The Santa Clause 2 Tracy
2003 Seeing Double Jo
American Splendor Stage Actor Joyce
My Boss's Daughter Audrey Bennett
Good Boy! Mrs. Baker
2005 Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie Jackie Frost Voice role
2006 Shut Up and Sing (aka The Wedding Weekend) Trish
Scary Movie 4 Marilyn
Marie Antoinette Aunt Victoire
Little Man Soccer Mom
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Mrs. Dennit
Gray Matters Carrie
Air Buddies Molly Voice role; Direct-to-video
2007 Year of the Dog Peggy Spade
Evan Almighty Eve Adams
2008 Snow Buddies Molly
Igor Eva Voice role
2009 What Goes Up Penelope Little
2011 Bad Teacher Melody Tiara
2012 Casa de Mi Padre Sheila
The Five-Year Engagement Onion Chef
Scary Movie 5 Heather Darcy
Hotel Transylvania Wanda Voice role
2013 Trust Me Janice
2014 Life After Beth Geenie Slocum
2015 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Denise Kushner
Addicted to Fresno Margaret
Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant Emily McCoy
Hotel Transylvania 2 Wanda Voice role; Cameo appearance
2016 Other People Joanne Mulcahey
Miles Pam Walton
2017 The Little Hours Sister Marea
Fun Mom Dinner Jamie
We Don't Belong Here Deborah
The Layover Nancy
2018 Private Life Cynthia
Half Magic Mistress Valesca
Wild Nights with Emily Emily Dickinson
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Wanda Voice role
2019 Sextuplets Linda
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Joline
2020 Promising Young Woman Mrs. Fisher
Horse Girl Joan
2022 Hotel Transylvania: Transformania Wanda Voice role
Spin Me Round Deb
Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special Herself Stand-up special
2023 A Good Person Diane


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Twin Peaks Judy Swain 1 episode
1992–1993 In Living Color Officer Trainee 5 episodes
1993 General Hospital Surrogate Mother #2 1 episode
1994 The John Larroquette Show Vivian 1 episode
Sister, Sister Cashier 1 episode
Ellen Woman 1 episode
1995–2001 Saturday Night Live Various 117 episodes
1997 The Single Guy Melody Pugh 1 episode
Seinfeld Sam 1 episode
Will and Grace Val Bassett 8 episodes
2000 SNL Fanatic Anna Nicole Smith TV short
2001 Saturday Night Live Primetime Extra 1 Elizabeth Taylor TV short
2002 Sex and the City Lily Martin 3 episodes
2003 Johnny Bravo Multiple voices 1 episode
Ed Linda Berringer 1 episode
The Music Man Mrs. Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn TV movie
2004 The Twelve Days of Christmas Eve Angie TV movie
Scrubs Denise Lemmon 1 episode
2004–2006 Cracking Up Lesley Shackleton 7 episodes
2005–2007 American Dad! Kristy 3 episodes
2006 My Gym Partner's a Monkey Pretties 1 episode
The Amazing Screw-On Head Patience the Vampire Voice role; 1 episode, unsold pilot
2007 30 Rock Katherine Catherine 1 episode
Pushing Daisies Dilly Balsam 1 episode
The Mastersons of Manhattan Amanda Masterson TV movie
More of Me Alice McGowan
2007, 2023 Saturday Night Live Herself Host; 2 episodes
2008–2009 Kath & Kim Kath 18 episodes
2009 The New Adventures of Old Christine Jeannie 1 episode
2010 Glee Brenda Castle 2 episodes
Neighbors from Hell Tina Hellman Voice role; 10 episodes
2011, 2013 The Middle Janet 2 episodes
2011–2012 Up All Night Nancy 2 episodes
2012 Web Therapy Kirsten Noble
Partners Cassandra 1 episode
2013 Doc McStuffins Rita Voice role; 1 episode
Happily Divorced Peggy 1 episode
Enlightened Eileen Foliente 4 episodes
Hannibal Kidnapper 1 episode
Jessie Col. Beverly Shannon 1 episode
Super Fun Night Jane Spencer 1 episode
Getting On Phyllis Marmatan 3 episodes
2013–2022 Bob's Burgers Millie Voice role; 8 episodes
2013–2014 Raising Hope Maxine 2 episodes
2014 Bambi Cottages Cathleen Burke TV movie
The Spoils of Babylon Meredith Sennheiser 2 episodes, TV miniseries
Benched Judge Conner 1 episode
2014–2015 The Millers Miss Pam 2 episodes
2015 Mulaney Markie 1 episode
The Spoils Before Dying Tricksy 2 episodes, TV miniseries
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Gail Dana Starfield 7 episodes
2016 Animals. Olivia Voice role; 1 episode
Childrens Hospital Paula Reilly 1 episode
2016–2019 Divorce Diane Main role
2017 Life in Pieces Allie 1 episode
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later Gail Dana Starfield 3 episodes
2018 The 2018 Rose Parade Hosted by Cord & Tish Tish Cattigan Amazon Video coverage
The Royal Wedding Live with Cord & Tish! Tish Cattigan HBO coverage
Spy Kids: Mission Critical Murna Voice role; 12 episodes
2019–2023 The Other Two Pat Dubek Main role
2020 Better Things Herself 1 episode
2021 The White Lotus Kitty Patton 2 episodes
2022 I Love That for You Jackie Stilton Main role

Web series

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Web Therapy Kirsten Noble 3 episodes
2013 Ghost Ghirls Joy Button 3 episodes, streaming on Yahoo! Screen
2016 Rhett and Link's Buddy System Rhonda 1 episode, streaming on YouTube Premium

Music videos

Year Title Artist Role
2017 "Swish Swish" Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj Coach Molly

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 the 1999 feature film Superstar based on the character.
  • Sally O'Malley, a proud 50-year-old dancer ("I'm FIFTY!") 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 many 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!"

Celebrity impressions

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2016 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Supporting Actress Other People Nominated
2016 Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
2012 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Feature Film Hotel Transylvania Nominated
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actress – Comedy Superstar Nominated
2001 Favorite Supporting Actress – Comedy How the Grinch Stole Christmas Nominated
2013 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series Enlightened Nominated
2019 Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Other Two Nominated
2021 Nominated
2018 FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival Best Actress Wild Nights with Emily Won
2016 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female Other People Won
2022 Best Supporting Performance in a New Scripted Series I Love That for You Nominated
2016 Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Other People Nominated
2019 International Online Cinema Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Other Two Nominated
2022 Nominated
1998 National Board of Review Awards Best Acting by an Ensemble Happiness Won
1997 Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Host or Performer in a Variety, Musical or Comedy Series Saturday Night Live Nominated
2000 Nominated
2018 Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
2020 Nominated
2021 Pena de Prata Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Other Two Nominated
Best Guest Actor or Actress in a Drama or Limited Series The White Lotus Nominated
Best Ensemble in a Limited Series or Anthology Series or TV Special Won
2000 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program Saturday Night Live Nominated
2013 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Enlightened (Episode: "The Ghost Is Seen") Nominated
2018 Will & Grace (Episode: "There's Something About Larry") Nominated
2018 Provincetown International Film Festival Excellence in Acting Award N/A Won
2016 Savannah Film Festival Spotlight Award N/A Won
2006 TV Guide Awards Editor's Choice Will & Grace Won
2016 Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Other People Nominated

See also

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