Mary Katherine Gallagher

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Mary Katherine Gallagher
First appearanceSaturday Night Live
Created byMolly Shannon
Portrayed byMolly Shannon
In-universe information
OccupationCatholic schoolgirl

Mary Katherine Gallagher is a fictional character invented and portrayed by Saturday Night Live cast member Molly Shannon from 1995 to 2001. She was considered the first breakout character from the new 1995 cast and a significant marker of the increased influence of women writers on the show in the 1990s.[1][2][3][4] Shannon portrayed the character in a 1999 film, Superstar, and she also reprised the role when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007. Shannon first created an early version of the character when she was in school at NYU, during a comedy show directed by Madeleine Olnek.[5]


Mary Katherine Gallagher is portrayed by Molly Shannon (pictured in 2008).

Mary Katherine is a sardonic caricature of an unpopular, teenage Catholic school girl. She is prone to comically severe mood swings, alternately hyperactive and ponderous. She suffers from stage fright, but is also hyper-competitive (on one occasion, she engages in a sing-off with Whitney Houston) and egomaniacal, believing she is a "superstar".

Lacking in proper social skills, her signature move is that, when nervous, she squeezes her hands under her armpits and then sniffs them. She demonstrates this habit to most new people she meets. She also has a habit of flashing her underwear either accidentally or on purpose.

The sketches usually begin with a school-related dramatic arts function, such as choir practice or school play rehearsals. Mary Katherine runs on stage and introduces herself, and then attempts to participate, monopolizing the spotlight until she loses her cool and does something socially inappropriate.

At some point, she typically announces that her feelings would be best expressed by reciting a monologue, sometimes from a film such as West Side Story, or from an obscure TV movie such as The Betty Broderick Story starring Meredith Baxter-Birney. While reciting the monologue, she becomes overly dramatic and intensely emotional, to the extent to where others intervene to stop her monologue.

The sketch usually ends with her making a pratfall, such as falling over, crashing into a wall or destroying something. She then jumps up, regains her composure, and extends her hands in the air, proclaiming "Superstar!"


In 1999, a feature-length film, entitled Superstar, was released, starring Shannon as Gallagher.[6] Several of her SNL cast mates, including Will Ferrell and Mark McKinney, also appear in the film.[6]

In the film, Mary Katherine lives with her disabled grandmother (an unseen character in the SNL skits), who believes Mary Katherine bears a striking resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor. Wanting to attract the attentions of Sky, the most attractive boy in school (played by Will Ferrell), Mary Katherine decides to enter the school talent competition. Her grandmother, however, prevents her from pursuing her dreams and forbids her to compete. It is later revealed that she intervened because Mary Katherine's parents were stomped to death while participating in a dance competition.

Episodes featuring Mary Katherine Gallagher[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joe Dziemianowicz, "Uniformity", Entertainment Weekly, May 2, 1997.
  2. ^ Tom Gliatto, "Geek Goddess", People, June 16, 1997.
  3. ^ Gail Shister, "Women take over 'Saturday Night', Knight-Ridder-Tribune News Service in Wilmington Morning Star, August 9, 1997.
  4. ^ Yael Koen, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy (Macmillan Publishing, 2012), ISBN 978-0374287238, pp. 243ff. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  5. ^ 2018 Outfest Film Festival Q&A's - Wild Nights With Emily (video). Outfest. 26 March 2018. Event occurs at 1:12. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  6. ^ a b Gates, Anita (October 8, 1999). "Superstar (1999) FILM REVIEW; The Things She'll Do For Fame and a Date". The New York Times.