Mary Walsh (actress)

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Mary Walsh
Mary Walsh in London, UK.jpg
Born Mary Cynthia Walsh
(1952-05-13) May 13, 1952 (age 64)
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Occupation Actress, Comedian, Writer

Mary Cynthia Walsh, CM[1] (born May 13, 1952) is a Canadian actress, comedian and social activist. A sufferer of macular degeneration,[2] she has served from time to time as a spokesperson for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

Early life[edit]

Walsh was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, the daughter of Mary and Leo Walsh, a merchant marine turned fireman on commercial vessels. She is of Irish ancestry.[3]


Walsh studied theatre in Toronto at Ryerson University but dropped out to work with the CODCO comedy troupe on a series of stage shows, which eventually evolved into a sketch comedy series.[4] The CODCO series ran from 1987 to 1992 on CBC Television.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes[edit]

In 1992, she began to work with former co-star Rick Mercer and former CODCO co-stars Cathy Jones and Greg Thomey to create a new television series called This Hour Has 22 Minutes.[4] The show would be a parody of the nightly news and would poke fun at Canadian and international politics. 22 Minutes received strong ratings during its earlier seasons and Walsh's character Marg Delahunty became famous for buttonholing politicians and submitting them to satirical interviews.[5] Usually Marg Delahunty would recite a scripted piece intended to humiliate the politician, often by providing criticism and "grandmotherly" advice. Sometimes Marg appeared as "Marg, Princess Warrior", a parody of the title character of Xena: Warrior Princess portrayed by Lucy Lawless. Walsh is also noted for her comical segment chronicling the Canadian Auto Workers Union's tense blockade of the Volvo Halifax Assembly plant in 1998. In 2007 she revived Marg Delahunty for the Royal Canadian Air Farce's 300th episode, filmed in Toronto in March. On October 24, 2011, Walsh was once again in the spotlight as she reprised the role of Marg Delahunty conducting an ambush interview of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at his home. Ford's reaction and alleged verbal abuse directed at 911 operator made national headlines.[6]

Walsh's other television work included the short-run sitcoms Dooley Gardens in 1999, Hatching, Matching and Dispatching[4][7] and she had a guest starring role as Miranda Cahill on the CBC television series, Republic of Doyle.[8] She created the CBC program Mary Walsh: Open Book, a talk show about books and literature, in 2003.[4]

Besides TV acting, she has worked on movies such as Mambo Italiano,[4] Geraldine's Fortune,[9] Rain, Drizzle and Fog,[10] Buried on Sunday, The Divine Ryans, Young Triffie and Violet.[11]


Walsh made her feature directorial debut with the 2007 movie Young Triffie.[12] She was the first Newfoundlander in six years to have a film in general release across Canada.

Other work[edit]

2004 saw Walsh host a segment on the CBC documentary series The Greatest Canadian, in which she championed the case for Sir Frederick Banting (the Nobel prize-winning discoverer of insulin) as the greatest Canadian who ever lived.[4]

In June 2007, she hosted the Pride Toronto Gala & Awards ceremony.

On December 15, 2007, Walsh made national news with a story about her upcoming special, Nudity, Sexuality, Violence and Coarse Language, in which a large group of people who went and stripped naked standing next to St. John's Harbour in -11° Celsius (12.2° Fahrenheit) temperature to be filmed as a part of the show's closing. Walsh herself did not go nude.[13]


Performing arts[edit]

She won Best Supporting Actress at the Atlantic Film Festival in 1992 for her performance in Mike Jones' Secret Nation.

On November 4, 2006, Walsh and Ed MacDonald picked up a Gemini Award for the best writing in a comedy or variety program for their work in Hatching, Matching and Dispatching.[14]

She has won 18 Gemini Awards.[15]

Walsh received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts, in 2012.[16]

Charity and activism[edit]

In 1993, Walsh was chosen to deliver the prestigious Graham Spry lecture which was broadcast nationally on CBC Radio.

In 1994, Walsh addressed the United Nations Global Conference on Development in New York. She has also served as a spokesperson for Oxfam, Canada's human rights campaign, and in 2010 received Oxfam's Spirit of Change Award, in recognition of her years of dedication to eradicating poverty and ensuring public services for all.[17]

On May 29, 1998, Mary Walsh received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Trent University [18]

McGill University honoured Walsh with an honorary doctorate during the November 2008 convocation ceremony.[19] Her speech to the class of 2008 focused on political satire.[20]



Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood Heady Nolan
1992 Secret Nation Oona Vokey
1999 New Waterford Girl Cookie Pottie
2003 Mambo Italiano Lina Paventi
2007 Young Triffie Aunt Millie Bishop Director
2009 Crackie Bride
2013 The Grand Seduction Vera
2015 Closet Monster
2016 The Inn of Olde Sadie Short Film


Year TV Show Role Notes
1978 The Root Seller Various 6 Episodes
1986-1989 CODCO Various 35 Episodes
1993-2013 This Hour Has 22 Minutes Various 34 Episodes
1999 Dooley Gardens Marilyn Benoit 7 Episodes
2005-2006 Hatching, Matching and Dispatching Mamie Lou Furey 9 Episodes
2010-2014 Republic of Doyle Miranda Cahill 2 Episodes
2014-2016 Sensitive Skin Sarah Thorn 2 Episodes


Year TV Show Position Notes
1978 The Root Seller Writer 6 Episodes
1986-1989 CODCO Writer 35 Episodes
1998-1999 The Rosie O'Donnell Show Writer 193 Episodes
2003-2004 Mary Walsh: Open Book Writer 13 Episodes
2005-2006 Hatching, Matching and Dispatching Writer 6 Episodes
1993-2004 This Hour Has 22 Minutes Head Writer/Writer 31 Episodes


  1. ^ "Six individuals received a University of Prince Edward Island Doctor of Laws Degrees, honoris causa in May 2003.". Lake of Shining Awards. 
  2. ^ "Warrior Princess Leads The Charge Against Macular Degeneration | Optical Prism Magazine". Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are?". Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Mary Walsh: Warrior princess - Everything Zoomer - Boomers with Zip". Everything Zoomer - Boomers with Zip. 1 January 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Mary Walsh resurrects Marg to bring change to Ottawa". Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  6. ^ Kennedy, Brendan; Rider, David (October 27, 2011). "Ford admits using f-word, denies insulting a 911 operator". Toronto Star. 
  7. ^ "HATCHING, MATCHING & DISPATCHING PREMIERES JAN. 6 ON CBC". Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Jake Doyle's last ride: Social media reacts". CBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "Geraldine's Fortune *". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  10. ^ "CM Magazine: Rain, Drizzle and Fog: An Offbeat Look at St. John's, Newfoundland.". Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  11. ^ "Hollywood Down East, but you'd never know it". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  12. ^ "YOUNG TRIFFIE'S BEEN MADE AWAY WITH - Telefilm Canada". Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  13. ^ "Nude St. John's waterfront TV shoot attracts 50". CBC News. December 15, 2007. Archived from the original on December 16, 2007. 
  14. ^ "2006 Gemini Award winners". Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  15. ^ "Canada's Awards Database". 
  16. ^ "Rush wins Governor General's Award". CBC News. 2012-03-06. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-06. 
  17. ^ "Mary Walsh receives first "Spirit of Change" award". Oxfam Canada. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Mary Walsh and Sheila Fraser to receive honorary degrees at McGill". 
  20. ^ "Mary Walsh gets degree from McGill and says PM is a control freak". 

External links[edit]