Molly Helen Shannon (born September 16, 1964) is an American 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.
Shannon was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on September 16, 1964, to an Irish American Catholic family. Her mother, Mary Margaret "Peg" (née Keating), was a teacher, and her father, James Francis Shannon, was a sales manager. At age four, Shannon was involved in a car accident which killed her mother, younger sister, and cousin. 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.
Before Saturday Night Live, Shannon worked as a hostess at Cravings restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and as a food demo girl at Gelson's super market in Marina Del Rey. She auditioned for her first big film role and was cast, playing the supporting part of 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.
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 Mike White's critically acclaimed film Year of the Dog in 2007. In 2013, Shannon joined 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).
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.
She returned to Saturday Night Live for a special Mother's Day episode on May 8, 2010, 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.
Shannon's first children's book, Tilly the Trickster, was released September 1, 2011.
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.
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.
In 2018, Shannon co-hosted the Rose Parade with Will Ferrell on Amazon Prime Video in character as fictional local television personalities.
Shannon married artist Fritz Chesnut on May 29, 2004. They have two children: daughter Stella (b. 2003) and son Nolan (b. 2005). Shannon identifies as a Democrat.
|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||A Night at the Roxbury||Emily Sanderson|
|1998||The Thin Pink Line||Aanl|
|1998||Daydream Believer||Susan Bradley||Short film|
|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||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||Air Buddies||Molly||Voice only|
|2007||Year of the Dog||Peggy Spade|
|2007||Evan Almighty||Eve Adams|
|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|
|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 Mulcahey||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
|2017||The Little Hours||Sister Marea|
|2017||Fun Mom Dinner||Jamie|
|2017||We Don't Belong Here||Deborah|
|2018||Half Magic||Mistress Valesca|
|2018||Wild Nights with Emily||Emily Dickinson|
|1991||Twin Peaks||Judy Swain||1 episode|
|1992-1993||In Living Color||Officer Trainee||5 episodes|
|1993||General Hospital||Surrogate Mother #2||1 episode|
|1994||The John Larroquette Show||1 episode|
|1994||Sister, Sister||Cashier||1 episode|
|1995-2001||Saturday Night Live||Various||116 episodes|
|1997||The Single Guy||Melody Pugh||1 episode|
|1999-2004; 2018||Will and Grace||Val Bassett||6 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|
|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||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||4 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 miniseries|
|2014||Benched||Judge Conner||1 episode|
|2014-2015||The Millers||Miss Pam||2 episodes|
|2015||The Spoils Before Dying||Tricksy||2 episodes, TV miniseries|
|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|
|2017||Life in Pieces||Allie||Episode: "Chef Rescue Negotiator Necklace"|
|2017||Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later||Gail Dana Starfield||3 episodes|
|2018||The 2018 Rose Parade Hosted by Cord & Tish||Tish Cattigan||Amazon Video coverage|
|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|
|2017||"Swish Swish"||Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj||Coach Molly|
Saturday Night Live characters
- 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!"