- Molly Helen Shannon
September 16, 1964 (age 57)
- Actor, Voice Actor, Comedian
- Fritz Chestnut
- James F. Shannon, Peg Shannon
Molly Helen Shannon (born September 16, 1964) is an American comic actress best known for her work as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2001 and for starring in the films Superstar and Year of the Dog. More recently, she starred in NBC's Kath & Kim from 2008 to 2009 and on the TBS animated series Neighbors from Hell. Throughout Shannon's career she has appeared in a number of films in supporting roles.
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. Shannon was involved in a car accident when she was four years old 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 had a struggling career in movies, her most notable being a 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, and in 1993, she appeared with minor roles in three episodes of In Living Color, the first in a fake TV commercials with Chris Rock (played by Shawn Wayans), 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 (1995-1996).
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.
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.
Shannon married artist Fritz Chesnut on May 29, 2004. They have two children: daughter Stella (b. 2003), and son Nolan (b. 2005).