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|Born||Nora Eloise Dunn
April 29, 1952
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Ray Hutcherson (1987–1995; divorced)
Sean McGarry (1998–present)
Dunn was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Margaret (née East), a nurse, and John Dunn, a musician and poet. Her brother is actor Kevin Dunn. She was raised in a Catholic family, and has Irish, English, Scottish, and German ancestry. Dunn attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1970 to 1972, San Francisco City College, and the Academy of Fine Arts.
Saturday Night Live
Dunn joined SNL in 1985 with the return of Lorne Michaels as executive producer. The 1985–1986 season proved to be a ratings disaster, and she was one of only five cast members who were not fired at its end (the others were newcomers Jon Lovitz, A. Whitney Brown, Dennis Miller and longtime featured player Al Franken).
Dunn's characters included half of "The Sweeney Sisters" lounge act alongside Jan Hooks, as well as talk show host Pat Stevens (which became a popular recurring role starting in the low-rated 1985–1986 season), melodramatic French hooker Babette, and film buff Ashley Ashley from the "Actors on Film" sketch from the 1985–1986 season. Her impressions included Ann Landers, Imelda Marcos, Liza Minnelli, Tyne Daly, Joan Baez, Martina Navratilova, and Cokie Roberts.
Dunn made headlines in 1990 when she, along with original musical guest Sinéad O'Connor, boycotted an episode which was hosted by comedian Andrew Dice Clay because they found his misogynistic humor offensive. SNL alumnus Jon Lovitz discussed Dunn's boycott of the show in detail during an episode of "The ABC’s of SNL" with director Kevin Smith. "It's the last show of the season. Nora...she caused a lot of trouble. [She] was very hard to get along with, and they weren't going to ask her back, anyway...And this is how the press works. And I'm telling you I'm on the inside of this. They don't know the story. It's like she's just doing it to get press. It's her last hurrah. They're not asking her back onto the show."
Recurring characters on SNL
- Ashley Ashley, a pretentious film critic from the recurring sketch, "Actors on Film" (her partner was Jimmy Chance, played by Robert Downey, Jr.)
- Babette, a melodramatic French prostitute
- Pat Stevens, a model turned talk show host
- Denise Venetti, host of "Learning To Feel"
- Dr. Norma Hoeffering, a lesbian psychiatrist who writes male-bashing self-help books
- Liz Sweeney, one of two singing sisters (the other played by Jan Hooks)
- Loose Chang, Ching Chang's (Dana Carvey) love interest
- Mrs. Campbell, Wayne Campbell's (Mike Myers) mom
- Ann Landers
- Imelda Marcos
- Liza Minnelli
- Tyne Daly
- Martina Navratilova
- Cokie Roberts
- Jeane Dixon
- Jeane Kirkpatrick
- Joan Baez
- Brigitte Nielsen
- Catherine Deneuve
- Donna Rice
- Barbara Bush
- Cindy Adams
- Barbara Merrill
- Leona Helmsley
- Linda Dano
- Peggy Lee
- Shelley Duvall
- Marilyn Quayle
- Pat Schroeder
- Linda Ellerbee
- Mary Hart
- Raisa Gorbacheva
- Frida Kahlo
Dunn appeared in recurring roles on Sisters from 1993–1996 and The Nanny from 1998–1999, as well as a guest-starring role in a two-part episode of The X-Files in 1998. She appeared on LOL in 2012. In the 8th episode of the 9th season of crime procedural drama Bones, she played author Tess Brown, a feuding rival or protagonist Temperance Brennan.
Her film work includes Working Girl (1988), How I Got into College (1989), Miami Blues (1990), I Love Trouble (1994), Three Kings (1999), Zoolander (2001), Runaway Jury (2003), Love for Rent (2005), Pineapple Express (2008), and My Suicide (2009).
Dunn married Ray Hutcheson, a playwright, in September 1987. The couple divorced in 1995. In 1998 Dunn married Sean McGarry, a set builder.
- Nora Dunn at the Internet Movie Database
- Cover by Kevin Cavanaugh of her "Fiber" parody of Peggy Lee's "Fever"