Debra McGrath

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Debra McGrath
Debra McGrath at Music & Movies CFC Gala & Auction Fundraiser 2014 (cropped).jpg
McGrath at the 2014 Music & Movies: CFC Gala & Auction Fundraiser
Born (1954-07-05) July 5, 1954 (age 67)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materRyerson University
  • Actress
  • comedian
Years active1980–present
Notable work
Little Mosque on the Prairie
(m. 1989)

Debra McGrath (born July 5, 1954) is a Canadian actress and comedian.


Debra McGrath was born in Toronto in 1954. She studied theatre at Ryerson University.


McGrath first started her career with three years as a member of The Second City Toronto, Ontario, from 1983-1985,[1] where she was a writer and actress, and eventually a director.[2] She was best known for a take-off of Marilyn Monroe,[3] and the song Condoms are a Girl's Best Friend.[4] During the late 1980s, she appeared with Second City at anniversary, comedy festival and Club Soda performances.[3][4]

In 1987, McGrath starred in Spoof, a comedy pilot written by Brian Cooke and Perry Rosemond.[5] In 1989, she had a major role in Allan King's film Termini Station.[6][7] She also appeared in Eugene Levy's 1992 TV film Partners 'N Love, in which she played a lawyer whose client's divorce was found to be invalid.[8]

In 1990, with Linda Kash, McGrath co-created My Talk Show,[9][10] a sitcom featuring a talk show broadcast from the host's basement.[11] The series ran for one year, with fifty-nine episodes.[11] Producer Bob Tischler cast Cynthia Stevenson as the host, while McGrath played a local dinner theatre owner,[11] actress and head of the Chamber of Commerce.[9] Initial reviews were very positive, predicting that McGrath would become the Carl Reiner of the 1990s.[9] However, ratings were low,[11] the host character left the show and McGrath's character became the host.[11] Ratings did not improve (one reviewer considered that McGrath's character was "a grating, overbearing bimbo whose I-have-no-idea-who-my-guests-are routine gets boring fast"[12]) and the show folded after one season.[11] McGrath was also a co-writer of the Canadian Women's Television Network's Go Girl!,[13] a send-up of a cable TV talk show that debuted in 1997.[13]

In 2002, McGrath appeared in the film Expecting, directed by Deborah Day, which won Most Popular Canadian Film at the 2002 Vancouver International Film Festival. McGrath played a dermatologist, the childless older sister of the pregnant star, and her performance was noted by several reviewers as "show[ing] the wounded heart beneath the careerist's brittle exterior";[14] "McGrath is the other standout as Anita, by far the richest character in the film. Neurotic and condescending to everyone around her, Anita is quick to deliver zingers, then filled with regret for what she's said. McGrath is sharp and touching, surprisingly substantial in a film that's ultimately fluff."[15] For this role, McGrath won the award for Best Performance in a Feature (Female) at the 2004 Canadian Comedy Awards.[16]

With her husband, Colin Mochrie, and Deborah Day, McGrath co-created and starred in the CBC television series Getting Along Famously (2006),[17][18] about a fictional couple who star in a 1960s TV variety show.[19] The 2005 pilot show of Getting Along Famously was nominated for two Gemini Awards,[20] including Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series. She also starred in the children's series Seven Little Monsters (2000-2003), and in Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012) in which she played Mayor Popowitcz.[21] She co-starred with Spencer Rice in Single White Spenny in 2011.[22]

In 2003, she formed a comedy troupe called Women Fully Clothed with four other Canadian comedy artists. Fellow cast members Kathy Greenwood, Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Teresa Pavlinek and McGrath perform sketches about situations ordinary women face every day.[23][24] One reviewer considered that "Although all five comedians have performance skills in spades, Kathryn Greenwood and Debra McGrath are standouts, ... the latter for her dancing skills. ... McGrath cuts a mean rug in her tap shoes, and her monologue in the routine about being on the phone with her mum and granny hit very close to the bone."[25] McGrath left the troupe in the first half of 2009.

McGrath played Cornelia in the 2003 live-action films Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime.[23] She has made numerous guest appearances on a variety of Canadian TV series and had a regular role in seasons one (2001) and two (2004) of Paradise Falls. She has also voiced characters in many other animated shows, including The Raccoons (1991), The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1993-1997), Stories From My Childhood (1998), George and Martha (Valerie Chuckles, 1999-2000), Babar (2000), George Shrinks (Mrs Lopez, 2000-2001), Peep and the Big Wide World and Franklin and the Green Knight (2000).

Personal life[edit]

McGrath was formerly married to Dana Andersen.[26][27] She married fellow comedian and Second City alumnus Colin Mochrie in 1989.[20] They live in Leaside, Toronto.[17][28] They have one child, a daughter, Kinley.[29] McGrath collects 1950s Italian Murano glass.[28]

McGrath and her husband Mochrie are both related to Canadian actor Munro Chambers. In a 2010 interview, Chambers stated:

"I could say many things... my uncle, for one thing, is Colin Mochrie. He's been my inspiration getting into the industry. He's my uncle-in-law; his wife is my dad's cousin. My dad and his cousin, they were kind of like brother and sister growing up, so he’s my uncle by law. We have a good relationship."[30]


Year Title Role Notes
1985 One Magic Christmas Mrs. Noonan
1989 Termini Station Liz Dunshane
1997 The Real Blonde Cis
2000 Franklin and the Green Knight: The Movie Warbler Direct-to-video
Credited as Deb McGrath
2002 Expecting Anita Writer - Dialogue
2005 Burnt Toast: The Argument Wife Video short
2013 The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain Narrator Voice
Credited as Deb McGrath
Stag Biker Gail
2016 Duty Calls Drunk Short film
2019 Home in Time Fran Short film
Majic Truckspoor
Year Title Role Notes
1980 Bizarre Various characters
1983 SCTV Channel McConnachie Season 6 episode 1: "Maudlin O' the Night"
1987 Really Weird Tales Mother TV movie
Segment: "I'll Be Loving"
1988 110 Lombard TV short
1989-1993 Street Legal Julia McCrindle / Real Estate Agent 2 episodes
1990 My Talk Show Anne Marie Snelling Episode: "Uptown Anne Marie"
Writer - 6 episodes
1991 The Raccoons Nurse Peck Voice
Season 5 episode 2: "Stress Test!"
1992 Partners 'n Love Rosemary Hudson TV movie
1993-1997 The Busy World of Richard Scarry Voice
36 episodes
1994 RoboCop Bambi Taker Episode 3: "Prime Suspect"
Due South Tammy Markles Season 1 episode 5: "Pizzas and Promises"
1998 Stories from My Childhood Credited as Debbie McGrath
Episode 12: "The Prince and the Swan"
1997-1999 Wind at My Back Reenie Bigelow 3 episodes
1998-1999 Ned's Newt Mrs. Pluck / Agent Spam / Lion 2 Voice
5 episodes
Credited as Deb McGrath
1999-2000 George and Martha Valerie Chuckles Voice
Main role (26 episodes)
2000 Code Name: Eternity Nurse Episode 1: "Ethaniel's Story"
Babar Additional Voices Voice
13 episodes
2000-2001 George Shrinks Mrs. Lopez Voice
3 episodes
2000-2003 Seven Little Monsters Mama Main role (49 episodes)
2001-2004 Paradise Falls Shirley Armstrong / Shirley 25 episodes
2003 DC 9/11: Time of Crisis Mary Matalin TV movie
2005 Getting Along Famously Ruby Kendall TV movie pilot
Teleplay writer
Executive producer
Burnt Toast Ursula TV movie
2006 This Is Wonderland Marty Klein Episode #3.9
Getting Along Famously Ruby Kendall Main role
Executive producer
2007 The Jane Show Sally Season 2 episode 14: "Who's Got Spirit?"
Women Fully Clothed: All Dressed Up and Places to Go Herself TV documentary
2007-2012 Little Mosque on the Prairie Mayor Ann Popowicz Main role (90 episodes and one special)
2009-2010 Winnipeg Comedy Festival Herself Host - Season 7 episode 1: "Tying the Knot"
Season 8 episode 4: "The Holiday Show" - Credited as Deb McGrath
Writer (2 episodes)
2009-2013 The Ron James Show Ted's Wife 8 episodes
2010 Love Letters Melissa TV short
Winnipeg Comedy Festival Herself TV documentary
2011 Single White Spenny Sheila Main role
The Casting Room Herself Season 2 episode 4: "Debra McGrath"
2012 Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town Mrs. Pepperleigh TV movie
2016 Coming In Mitchell's Mom 2 episodes
2018 Let's Get Physical Kathy Vanslooten Credited as Deb McGrath
Episode 8: "CAC Fight!"
2019 Private Eyes Deena Duncan Season 3 episode 12: "Glazed and Confused"
Carter Gretchen Jacott Season 2 episode 1: "Harley Wears A Wig"
2020 Baroness von Sketch Show Roberta
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
2018 Far Cry 5 Nancy Voice


  1. ^ Cawley, Janet (January 30, 1986). "Second City moving into its 3d city: Los Angeles". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 3, S5. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  2. ^ Canadian Press (March 4, 1983). "Second City still going". Leader-Post. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Schnurmacher, Thomas (January 20, 1989). "Gagnon deal for Junos solves host of problems". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. p. C1. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b "Gretzky wedding also good for yuks". The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. CP. July 18, 1988. p. 7. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
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  6. ^ Levy, Joanne (April 8, 1990). "Follows' fans in for a big shock". Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alberta. p. F3. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  7. ^ Toronto International Film Festival (2002). Allan King: Filmmaker. Indiana University Press. p. 106. ISBN 9780968913215. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  8. ^ Shaw, Ted (December 11, 1992). "Comedy and romance are partners". The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. p. C7. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  9. ^ a b c Hughes, Mike (September 24, 1990). "Debra McGrath must be Carl Reiner of '90s". Florida Today. Cocoa, Florida, USA. Gannett News Service. p. 3D. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  10. ^ Williams, Scott (October 31, 1990). "'My Talk Show' - droll situation comedy". The Daily Advertiser. Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. AP. p. B10. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  11. ^ a b c d e f Leszczak, Bob (2018). Single Season Sitcoms of the 1990s: A Complete Guide. McFarland. p. 129. ISBN 9781476670775. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  12. ^ Suchcicki (December 3, 1990). "WSRE sets emergency fund-raiser; New 'Talk Show' hostess lacks perk". Pensacola News Journal. Pensacola, Florida. p. 4D. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  13. ^ a b Atherton, Tony (September 9, 1997). "Move over Red Green, here comes Go Girl!". The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ontario. p. C10. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  14. ^ Schaefer, Glen (March 7, 2003). "Expecting is a funny, touching slice of life". The Province. Vancouver, British Columbia. p. B2. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  15. ^ Onstad, Katrina (March 7, 2003). "Pop some corn and boil some water. Film Review: Expecting". National Post. Toronto, Ontario. p. PM4. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  16. ^ "'Corner Gas' wins three awards". The Leader-Post. Regina, Saskatchewan. CP. October 30, 2004. p. F11. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  17. ^ a b Hamilton, Pierre (January 8, 2005). "Our Toronto. Funny you should mention it ... Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath, Comedians". National Post. Toronto, Ontario. p. TO2. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  18. ^ Wedge, Pip (January 2006). "Getting Along Famously". History of Canadian Broadcasting. Canadian Communications Foundation. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  19. ^ Kohanik, Eric (January 10, 2005). "Mochrie, McGrath set to have some fun". The Leader-Post. Regina, Saskatchewan. CanWest News Service. p. D7. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  20. ^ a b Ahearn, Victoria (January 6, 2006). "Mochrie's success is his friend's failure". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. Canadian Press. p. D8. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  21. ^ Kohanik, Eric (August 4, 2007). "Little Mosque reprises Season 1 on Vision". The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, British Columbia. CanWest News Service. p. F19. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  22. ^ Kaplan, Ben (November 26, 2010). "Kenny and Spenny in ultimate battle". The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, British Columbia. p. D8. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  23. ^ a b Greenaway, Kathryn (July 9, 2006). "Look out, Mona!". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. p. A23. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  24. ^ Lawson, Catherine (February 17, 2007). "Women Fully Clothed undressed". The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ontario. pp. J1, J4, J5. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  25. ^ Sutherland, Anne (July 15, 2006). "Comedy Review - Women Fully Clothed. No gender gap when it comes to rolling in the aisles". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. p. E5. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  26. ^ Metella, Helen (July 17, 1989). "Nutty concepts comedian's daily bread". Edmonton Journal. Edmonton, Alberta. p. B6. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  27. ^ Wittmeier, Brent (February 26, 2015). "Lecture takes duo out of comfort zone". Edmonton Journal. Edmonton, Alberta. p. C2. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  28. ^ a b Kohane, Jack (April 5, 2003). "Family, friends and fun". National Post. Toronto, Ontario. p. PH5. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via
  29. ^ McGrath, Debra. "Colin Mochrie: What My Daughter Taught Me When She Came Out As Trans". Reader's Digest. Canada. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  30. ^ "Munro Chambers Interview: Eli, "Eclare" & more". The Star Scoop. November 17, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2022.

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