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

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

Life and career[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.[2] She 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.

The CODCO series ran from 1987 to 1992 on CBC Television.

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. 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. 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.

She also appeared in the short-run sitcoms Dooley Gardens in 1999 and Hatching, Matching and Dispatching in 2006.

She went on to pursue movie roles and to create the CBC program Mary Walsh: Open Book, a talk show about books and literature, in 2003. In 2004, Walsh hosted 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.

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

In 2007, Walsh made her feature directorial debut with the 2007 movie Young Triffie. She is the first Newfoundlander in six years to have a film in general release across Canada. She also revived Marg Delahunty for the Royal Canadian Air Farce's 300th episode, filmed in Toronto in March. In June, 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.[3]

Walsh had a guest starring role as Miranda Cahill on the January 20, 2010 episode, "Duchess of George", of the CBC television series, Republic of Doyle.

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.[4]


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

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.

On May 29, 1998, Mary Walsh received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Trent University [5]

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

She has won 18 Gemini Awards.[6]

McGill University honoured Walsh with an honorary doctorate during the November 2008 convocation ceremony.[7] Her speech to the class of 2008 focused on political satire.[8]

In 2012, she received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[9]



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


External links[edit]