Molly Shannon

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Molly Shannon
Molly Shannon (4842129884).jpg
Shannon in 2010
Birth name Molly Helen Shannon
Born (1964-09-16) September 16, 1964 (age 53)
Shaker Heights, Ohio
United States
Alma mater Tisch School of the Arts
Years active 1987–present
Spouse Fritz Chesnut (2004–present)
Children 2

Molly Helen Shannon (born September 16, 1964) is an American comic actress who was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2001. In 2017 she won the Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Other People.

She has appeared in supporting roles in a number of films, such as A Night at the Roxbury (1998), Never Been Kissed (1999), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Osmosis Jones (2001), My Boss's Daughter (2003), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). Her voice can also be heard in Igor (2008) and the Hotel Transylvania film series.

Early life[edit]

Shannon was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on September 16, 1964, to an Irish American Catholic family.[1][2] Her mother, Mary Margaret "Peg" (née Keating), was a teacher, and her father, James Francis Shannon, was a sales manager.[3] At age four, Shannon was involved in a car accident which killed her mother, younger sister, and cousin.[4][5][6] Shannon attended St. Dominic School in Shaker Heights for grade school, and Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio. She attended New York University, where she studied drama and graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1987.[7]


Before Saturday Night Live, Shannon worked as a hostess at Cravings restaurant on Sunset blvd and as a food demo girl at Gelson's super market in Marina Del Rey. She auditioned for her first big movie role and got the part! She landed the supporting role as Meg in the 1989 horror film remake of The Phantom of the Opera with Robert Englund. In 1991, she had a brief appearance in the second season of Twin Peaks as "the happy helping hand lady", and in 1993, she appeared with minor roles in three episodes of In Living Color, the first in a fake TV commercial with Shawn Wayans playing Chris Rock, the second in a sketch with Jim Carrey, playing LAPD Sergeant Stacey Koon, and third being a parody of Star Trek.

Shannon's major break came in February 1995, when she was hired as a featured player on Saturday Night Live to replace Janeane Garofalo after Garofalo left mid-season due to creative differences. Shannon was one of the few cast members to be kept (along with David Spade, Norm Macdonald, Mark McKinney and Tim Meadows) when Lorne Michaels overhauled his cast and writers for season 21 (1995–96).

She appeared in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Summer of George," where she played Sam, the co-worker who drove Elaine Benes crazy because she did not swing her arms while walking. She also appeared in Sheryl Crow's video for the song "A Change (Will Do You Good)" and played the recurring role of loony neighbor Val Bassett, Grace Adler's nemesis, on Will & Grace, appearing in five episodes over the sitcom's eight-season run. In 1998, she played the role of Emily Sanderson in the film A Night at the Roxbury, featuring Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan who were also cast members of SNL at the time.

In 1999 Shannon starred in Superstar, a feature film based on her most famous SNL character, Mary Katherine Gallagher, the awkward Catholic school student who aspires to be a musical superstar.

During her run on SNL, Shannon also found time to star in the movie Never Been Kissed (1999) and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) and Serendipity opposite Kate Beckinsale (2001.) Shannon left SNL in 2001, surpassing Victoria Jackson as the show's longest-serving female cast member (she has since been surpassed by Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, and Amy Poehler). In 2003, she appeared in the romantic comedy My Boss's Daughter and the television remake of The Music Man.

Fritz Chesnut and Shannon in 2009.

In 2004 she starred in a short-lived Fox network television series Cracking Up with actor Jason Schwartzman created by Mike White.. That same year, she guest starred in an episode of Scrubs and starred as Mrs. Baker in the film Good Boy!. In 2006, Shannon was featured in the Sofia Coppola directed movie Marie Antoinette as Aunt Victoire. The next year, Shannon guest starred on ABC's Pushing Daisies, and appeared in the film Evan Almighty. Shannon also made a rare move to drama, appearing in the critically acclaimed film Year of the Dog in 2007. In 2013, Shannon joined Mike White again playing his love interest, Eileen in the critically acclaimed HBO show Enlightened for which she was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding guest actress.

Shannon hosted Saturday Night Live on May 12, 2007, making her the second former female cast member to host (after Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and the first one to have been a cast member for Lorne Michaels (Louis-Dreyfus was a cast member under Dick Ebersol).

Shannon at the Orange County, California, Children's Book Festival on October 2, 2011 promoting her first children's book, Tilly the Trickster.

In 2008, Shannon starred as Kath in the American version of the hit Australian sitcom Kath & Kim.

In early 2010, Shannon was cast in a recurring role on the Fox television series Glee as Brenda Castle, an astronomy and badminton teacher who has a rivalry with main character Sue Sylvester.[8]

She returned to Saturday Night Live for a special Mother's Day episode on May 8, 2010,[9] and also the October 2010 reunion special "Women of SNL".

Shannon replaced Katie Finneran in the role of Marge McDougall in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises on 12 October 2010, and remained through its closure on 2 January 2011 along with co-stars Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth.[10]

Shannon's first children's book, Tilly the Trickster, was released September 1, 2011.[11]

As of Spring 2012, she has replaced Pauley Perrette as the spokesperson for Expedia.

in 2015, Shannon starred in the Sundance premiere Me and Earl and the Dying Girl directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. She was a guest, along with Denis Leary, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on June 9, 2015.

In 2016, Shannon co-starred in the HBO comedy Divorce opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church.

Shannon won the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the highly-acclaimed drama, Other People. She had two films premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival: The Little Hours and Fun Mom Dinner.

Personal life[edit]

Shannon married artist Fritz Chesnut on May 29, 2004.[12] They have two children: daughter Stella (b. 2003), and son Nolan (b. 2005).[13]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 The Phantom of the Opera Meg (New York)
1995 Return to Two Moon Junction Traci
1996 Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace Homeless Lady
1997 Dinner and Driving Arguing Woman in Cafe
1998 Happiness Nancy
1998 A Night at the Roxbury Emily Sanderson
1998 The Thin Pink Line Aanl
1998 Daydream Believer Susan Bradley Short Film
1999 Analyze This Caroline
1999 Never Been Kissed Anita
1999 My Neighbors the Yamadas Matsuko Yamada (English version, voiceover) Japanese animated film
1999 Superstar Mary Katherine Gallagher
2000 My 5 Wives Dr. Van Dyke
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Betty Lou Who
2001 Wet Hot American Summer Gail von Kleinenstein
2001 Osmosis Jones Mrs. Boyd
2001 Serendipity Eve
2001 Shallow Hal Mrs. Mary Larson
2002 The Santa Clause 2 Tracy
2003 American Splendor Stage Actor Joyce
2003 My Boss's Daughter Audrey Bennett
2003 Good Boy! Mrs. Baker
2005 Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie Jackie Frost Voice Only
2006 Shut Up and Sing Trish
2006 Scary Movie 4 Marilyn
2006 Marie Antoinette Aunt Victoire
2006 Little Man Soccer Mom
2006 Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Mrs. Dennit
2006 Gray Matters Carrie
2006 Air Buddies Molly Voice Only
2007 Year of the Dog Peggy Spade
2007 Evan Almighty Eve Adams
2008 Snow Buddies Molly
2008 Igor Eva
2009 What Goes Up Penelope Little
2011 Bad Teacher Melody Tiara
2012 Casa de Mi Padre Sheila
2012 The Five-Year Engagement Onion Chef
2012 Hotel Transylvania Wanda Voice Only
2013 Scary Movie 5 Heather Darcy
2013 Trust Me Janice
2014 Life After Beth Geenie Slocum
2015 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Denise Kushner
2015 Addicted to Fresno Margaret
2015 Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant Emily McCoy
2015 Hotel Transylvania 2 Wanda Voice Only
2016 Other People Joanne Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Nominated—AARP Movies for Grownups Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2016 Miles Pam Walton
2017 The Little Hours Sister Marea
2017 Fun Mom Dinner Jamie
2017 We Don't Belong Here Deborah
2017 The Layover Nancy
2017 Half Magic Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Twin Peaks Judy Swain 1 episode
1992–1993 In Living Color Officer Trainee 5 episodes
1993 General Hospital 1 episode Surrogate Mother #2
1994 The John Larroquette Show 1 episode
1994 Sister, Sister Cashier 1 episode
1994 Ellen Woman 1 episode
1995–2001 Saturday Night Live Various 116 episodes
1997 The Single Guy Melody Pugh 1 episode
1997 Seinfeld Sam 1 episode
1999–2004 Will and Grace Val Bassett 5 episodes
2000 SNL Fanatic Anna Nicole Smith TV Short
2001 Saturday Night Live Primetime Extra 1 Elizabeth Taylor TV Short
2002 Sex and the City Lily Martin 3 episodes
2003 Johnny Bravo Multiple Voices 1 episode
2003 Ed Linda Berringer 1 episode
2003 The Music Man Mrs. Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn TV movie
2004 The Twelve Days of Christmas Eve Angie TV movie
2004 Scrubs Denise Lemmon 1 episode
2004–2006 Cracking Up Lesley Shackleton 7 episodes
2005–2007 American Dad! Kristy 3 episodes
2006 My Gym Partner's a Monkey Pretties 1 episode
2006 The Amazing Screw-On Head Patience the Vampire (voice) 1 episode, unsold pilot
2007 30 Rock Katherine Catherine 1 episode
2007 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) 1 episode
2007 Pushing Daisies Dilly Balsam 1 episode
2007 The Mastersons of Manhattan Amanda Masterson TV movie
2007 More of Me Alice McGowan TV movie
2008–2009 Kath & Kim Kath 18 episodes
2009 The New Adventures of Old Christine Jeannie 1 episode
2010 Glee Brenda Castle 2 episodes
2010 Neighbors from Hell Tina Hellman (voice) 10 episodes
2011, 2013 The Middle Janet 2 episodes
2011–2012 Up All Night Nancy 2 episodes
2012 Web Therapy Kirsten Noble 2 episodes
2012 Partners Cassandra 1 episode
2013 Doc McStuffins Rita (voice) 1 episode
2013 Happily Divorced Peggy 1 episode
2013 Enlightened Eileen Foliente Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
2013 Hannibal Kidnapper 1 episode
2013 Ghost Ghirls Joy Button 3 episodes
2013 Jessie Col. Beverly Shannon 1 episode
2013 Super Fun Night Jane Spencer 1 episode
2013 Getting On Phyllis Marmatan 3 episodes
2013–2017 Bob's Burgers Millie 3 episodes
2013–2014 Raising Hope Maxine 2 episodes
2014 Bambi Cottages Cathleen Burke TV movie
2014 The Spoils of Babylon Meredith Sennheiser 2 episodes, TV Mini-Series
2014 Benched Judge Conner 1 episode
2014–2015 The Millers Miss Pam 2 episodes
2015 Mulaney Markie 1 episode
2015 The Spoils Before Dying Tricksy 2 episodes, TV Mini-Series
2015 Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Gail Dana Starfield 7 episodes
2016 Animals. Olivia (voice) 1 episode
2016 Childrens Hospital Paula Reilly 1 episode
2016–present Divorce Diane 10 episodes
2017 Life in Pieces Allie Episode: "Chef Rescue Negotiator Necklace"
2017 Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later Gail Dana Starfield 3 episodes

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Web Therapy Kirsten Noble 3 episodes
2013 Ghost Ghirls Joy Button 3 episodes, streaming on Yahoo! Screen
2016 Rhett and Link's Buddy System Rhonda 1 episode, streaming on YouTube Red

Music video[edit]

Year Title Artist Role Notes
2017 Swish Swish Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj Coach Molly

Saturday Night Live characters[edit]

Original characters[edit]

  • Mary Katherine Gallagher, Shannon's best known character. An odd, outcast student at a Catholic school who enjoyed performing in the choir and school plays. Shannon starred in a 1999 feature film based on the character.
  • Sally O'Malley, a proud 50-year-old dancer with a bouffant hairdo, who wore tight red pants and proclaimed how much she loved to "kick, stretch and kick!"
  • Circe Nightshade, co-host of "Goth Talk" (with Chris Kattan).
  • Miss Colleen, co-host of "Dog Show" (with Will Ferrell).
  • Elizabeth, one of the "Southern Gals".
  • Helen Madden, an overly exuberant self-proclaimed "Joyologist", who appeared on talk shows with the trademark catchphrase "I love it, I love it, I love it!"
  • Veronica Kilvere, an airhead fashion model who hosts the "Veronica & Co." talk show.
  • Janette Blow, wife of Joe Blow (played by Colin Quinn) on "The Local News" public-access television cable TV talk show.
  • Terri Rialto, co-host of the NPR radio show "Delicious Dish" (with Ana Gasteyer).
  • Margaret Healy, a woman who enjoys doing lots of voices and accents.
  • Jeannie Darcy, an unfunny mullet-haired stand-up comedian, who ended almost every joke with the phrase "Don't get me started, don't even get me started!"


  1. ^ Cranky Critic StarTalk: Movie Star Interview with Molly Shannon
  2. ^ The Lantern – Shannon talks about SNL and being a "Superstar"
  3. ^ Molly Shannon Biography (1964–)
  4. ^ "Molly Shannon - Life Insurance Awareness Month 2007 - YouTube". Molly Shannon - Life Insurance Awareness Month 2007. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Actress Molly Shannon Encourages Americans to Get Serious About Assessing Their Life Insurance Needs". Actress Molly Shannon Encourages Americans To Get Serious About Assessing their Life Insurance Needs | Life Happens. Arlington, Virginia, USA: Life Happens. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Hontz, Jenny. "Funny Girl: Molly Shannon". Funny Girl: Molly Shannon | Page Six Magazine | The New York Post. The New York Post. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "NYU Alumni Magazine: Live from New York, It's…". 1975-10-11. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  8. ^ Ausiello, Michael (February 10, 2010). "'Glee' exclusive: Molly Shannon declares war on Sue Sylvester!". The Ausiello Files. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 10, 2010. 
  9. ^ STAGE TUBE: New Betty White SNL Promo! (TV Content)
  10. ^ Broadway Revival of Promises, Promises to Close
  11. ^ "Tilly the Trickster". Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (June 2, 2004), "Former 'SNL' Member Molly Shannon Weds", Fox News Channel, Fox News Network, retrieved May 16, 2010 
  13. ^ Hontz, Jenny (October 5, 2008), "Funny Girl: Molly Shannon", Page Six Magazine, News Corporation, retrieved May 16, 2010 

External links[edit]