Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon Biography

Actress, Comedian (1964–)
Molly Shannon is an American actress known for her work on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2001.


Born in Ohio in 1964, actress/comedian Molly Shannon to moved to New York City when she was 18. After attending New York University, Shannon moved to Los Angeles, California, where she worked in restaurants while trying to get her comedy career off the ground. In 1995, she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. Shannon stayed on the show for six years, leaving in 2001. She has appeared in such films as Superstar (1999), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) and 2013's Scary MoVie (Scary Movie 5). On television, Shannon has appeared on Glee, 30 Rock and Kath & Kim, among other shows.

Early Life

Born on September 16, 1964, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Molly Helen Shannon is one of television's funniest performers, best known for being a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2001. The youngest of three daughters, Shannon and her family faced a tremendous tragedy when she was only 4 years old: She was in a car accident with her family that killed her mother, one of her sisters and a cousin. Her father, who had been driving the car, survived, but was left permanently disabled. According to an interview with The Huffington Post, Shannon said that her father "had to wear braces on his legs and had to learn to walk again" after the crash.

Raised Catholic, Shannon left Ohio to attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned a bachelor's degree. In an interview with The New Yorker, Shannon discussed her time in New York and her early attempts at landing acting gigs, saying, "I was auditioning for soap operas with monologues from 'Agnes of God'—'Mama, mama, don't burn me!'"

Moving to Los Angeles, California, Molly Shannon found herself working as a waitress while trying to make it as a performer. She finally caught her big break when she was invited to audition for Saturday Night Live. Before winning over Lorne Michaels to land a spot on the show, Shannon had been calling people she'd met at her restaurants, "making 500 calls to get 200 people to come" to her live show, according to The New York Times.

'Saturday Night Live'

Shannon joined the cast of SNL in 1995. Some of her most popular characters on the show had already been developed in her earlier live act, including Mary Katherine Gallagher character, a quirky Catholic school girl (whom Shannon had actually been warned not to do during her audition for SNL). Viewers also loved her senior showgirl Sally O'Malley, who was inspired, in part, by Shannon's father. "Sally O'Malley is a female version of my dad, who was this tough, wild, dapper Irishman," she explained to The New Yorker.

While on SNL, Shannon had a chance to bring one of her recurring roles to the big screen. She starred in Superstar, which featured Mary Katherine Gallagher, in 1999. Around the same time, the comedic actress had supporting roles in Never Been Kissed (1999) with Drew Barrymore and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) with Jim Carrey.

Career After 'SNL'

Since leaving SNL in 2001, Molly Shannon has tackled a variety of projects, including making guest appearances on TV's 30 Rock and Glee. In 2008, she sought sitcom success with Kath & Kim, and American remake of a popular Australian series, starring alongside Selma Blair. But the show failed to catch on with viewers. More recently, Shannon had a recurring role on Enlightened with Laura Dern in 2013.

Shannon has also done some voice work as well, lending her vocal talents to such animated series as American Dad! and Neighbors From Hell, and such films as Hotel Transylvania (2012). On the big screen, she made the most of some small parts in films like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Evan Almighty (2007) and 2013's Scary MoVie (also known as Scary Movie 5, the fifth installment of the Scary Movie spoof film series). In 2016 Shannon appeared as part of the cast of HBO's Divorce, starring opposite Sarah Jessica Parker.

Personal Life

Shannon married artist Fritz Chestnut in 2004. The couple lives in Los Angeles with their two children, daughter Stella and son Nolan. Shannon published her first children's book, Tilly the Trickster, in 2011.

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