Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon Headshot

Actress • Comedian

Birth Name: Molly Helen Shannon

Birth Date: September 16, 1964

Age: 59 years old

Birth Place: Shaker Heights, Ohio

Molly Shannon, the vivacious comedian with the twinkling blue eyes and elfin grin, started out as a mid-season replacement on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). By the time she left in 2001 to pursue a film career, Shannon had become the longest-running female cast member on a program famously male-dominated for decades.

With impeccable comedic timing and little regard for her personal safety - like Gilda Radner years before her - Shannon impressed producers and writers with a chutzpah that matched her talent, performing her own stunts with reckless abandon and creating some of the show's most memorable characters, including Mary Katherine Gallagher, a sexually overripe Catholic school girl who was an exaggerated version of Shannon's own dorky childhood self.

After leaving the safety of 30 Rock, Shannon segued easily into big screen comedies like "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006) and "Evan Almighty" (2007), and surprised critics with her touching lead turn in the dark comedy, "Year of the Dog" (2007). Although her first attempt at sitcom stardom, mother-daughter sitcom "Kath & Kim" (NBC, 2008-09), only lasted a single season, Shannon matured into an eclectic character actress, taking on both broad and subtle turns in films ranging from animated hit "Hotel Transylvania" (2012) and its 2015 sequel to indie dysfunctional family comedy-drama "Other People" (2015), coming of age hit "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (2015), and Jeff Baena's "The Little Hours" (2017), in which she played a Mother Superior in a 14th-century Italian convent.

Born Sept. 16, 1964 in Shaker Heights, OH, Shannon suffered an unspeakable tragedy early on that turned her world upside down and ultimately fueled her desire to perform. At the age of four, she survived a fatal car accident that killed her mother, Peg, younger sister and cousin, as well as seriously injured her father.

Shannon and her older sister, Mary, were unharmed - at least physically. Despite the incalculable loss, her childhood was not a complete tragedy. Not a typical father, Jim Shannon raised his two young daughters alone, and encouraged behavior that would strike fear into the hearts of most parents.

He made a point to promote any and all zany antics. When Shannon called her father after she and a friend stowed away on a plane from Ohio to New York City, he was delighted; told her to have a good time and to stow her way back to Ohio when she was done. When it did not work the second time, he happily paid for her and her friend's airfare back to Ohio.

Shannon was always performing in front of unsuspecting audiences and her dad was her most ardent supporter; particularly at her Catholic school's annual Saint Patrick's Day pageant. Every year, Shannon eagerly awaited the arrival of Miss Patty and Miss Jackie - choreographers with jet black hair and red lipstick who sported leotards and instructed students through their dance routines.

After high school, Shannon studied drama at New York University where she was a classmate of another famous "SNL" goofball, Adam Sandler. Initially enrolled as a drama student, Shannon auditioned for "Follies," a NYU comedy revue. While performing in the show, Shannon realized that she was a natural comedian and it was at that time that she created the character that would help put her on the path to superstardom - Mary Katherine Gallagher.

While still attending NYU, she also performed signing telegrams; generally bursting into stag and birthday parties and breaking into a ridiculous song and dance that left her audience bored.

However, it was good practice and toughened her up for the difficult career she had chosen. In 1987, shortly after graduating from college, she moved to Los Angeles, joining the ranks of unemployed actors populating the city. After waiting tables for a time, in 1989, she landed the role of Meg in the horror film version of "Phantom of the Opera," starring Robert Englund.

Though the roles continued to be infrequent, Shannon managed to land guest spots on David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" (ABC 1990-91), sketch comedy series "In Living Color" (Fox 1990-94) and Ellen DeGeneres sitcom, "Ellen" (ABC 1994-98).

But that all changed in 1995 when "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels spotted Shannon performing at a Los Angeles theater in the "Rob & Molly Show," a sketch comedy written by and starring Shannon and her partner, Rob Muir.

After joining "SNL" in 1995 as a mid-season replacement for the less-than-popular Janeane Garofalo, whose comedic style did not mesh with the show's, Shannon wasted no time standing out.

From the moment she debuted the Mary Katharine Gallagher character, Shannon became a star overnight. Perhaps lesser known, but equally funny in Shannon's repertoire was Sally O'Malley, the unitard-clad former dancer who liked to kick, stretch and boast loudly of being "50 years old!" In fact, O'Malley was oddly inspired by Shannon's father, as well as choreographers Miss Patty and Miss Jackie of her St. Patty's pageant youth.

Other standout characterizations included "Goth Talk" public access host Circe Nightshade, quirky joyologist Helen Madden, and NPR radio co-host of "Delicious Dish" (with Ana Gasteyer). Aside from her original characters, the well-rounded Shannon had a knack for imitations as well, including a beret-wearing Monica Lewinsky, an incoherent Elizabeth Taylor and a stoned Courtney Love.

Four years after securing her spot as the go-to female cast member on the career-making show, Shannon moved Mary Catherine to the big screen with "Superstar" in 1999. Unfortunately, like most of her "SNL" predecessors who attempted to stretch a five minute skit into a two-hour feature length film, Shannon's first lead role garnered mostly dismal reviews.

Nonetheless, Shannon was quickly becoming one of the busiest supporting actress' in some of Hollywood's biggest comedies. In 1997, she stole the show - quite a feat by anyone's standards - as Elaine's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) coworker, a woman who does not swing her arms when she walks on the "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998) episode, "The Summer of George."

Starting in 1999 until 2004, she landed a recurring role as Val, the unstable, slightly scary neighbor who literally battles Grace Adler (Debra Messing) for the affections of Grace's gay best friend, Will Truman (Eric McCormack), on the NBC sitcom "Will and Grace" (NBC 1998-2006).

She then dialed it down a notch playing Kate Beckinsale's sensible best friend in the romantic feature comedy "Serendipity" (2001). Shannon seemed to pop up everywhere that there was need for female comic lunacy, including parts in "Osmosis Jones" (2001), "The Santa Claus 2" (2002), "Little Man" (2006), "Scary Movie 4" (2006), "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006) and "Evan Almighty" (2007).

In 2004, Shannon teamed with the equally wacky Mike White - the writer-director behind "Chuck and Buck" (2000) and "The School of Rock" (2003) - in "Cracking Up" (Fox, 2004). In the short-lived sitcom, Shannon starred as a self involved, pill-popping and vodka swilling Beverly Hills housewife.

The show was pulled after only a few episodes, but White and Shannon formed a strong friendship, prompting White to promise he would make it up to her by writing a feature script especially for her. In 2007, he delivered the goods with the offbeat dramedy "Year of the Dog," (2006).

Not the typical comedic fare audiences were accustomed from Shannon, the film starred the comedian as Peggy, a sweet and unassuming secretary who lives an isolated existence with her beagle, Pencil, whom she loves like a child.

When Pencil dies suddenly, Peggy is left adrift with nothing but her overwhelming grief. Shannon delivered a moving and understated performance, winning her some of the best reviews of her career. It was not until after filming began, when one of the dogs in the cast licked Shannon's face and she broke out in hives, that she confessed that she was actually allergic to dogs.

In 2007, Shannon returned to television, shooting the pilot for "The Mastersons of Manhattan" (NBC). She also, signed with the Lifetime network to star in a made-for-cable movie "More of Me" (2007) as a stressed-out wife and mother who splits herself into three copies of herself in order to keep up with her hectic schedule.

In 2008, Shannon took on the role of Kath opposite Selma Blair as Kim in the American version of Australian sitcom "Kath & Kim" (NBC 2008-09). The series garnered lukewarm reviews and ratings and was canceled after a single season, but Shannon persevered, taking on voice roles in animated hits "Igor" (2009) and "Hotel Transylvania" (2012), as well as animated sitcom "Neighbors From hell" (TBS 2010).

Supporting roles in indie comedy-drama "What Goes Up" (2009), broad comedy "Bad Teacher" (2011), telenovela parody "Casa di Mi Padre" (2012) and romantic comedy "The Five Year Engagement" (2012) followed. Shannon maintained a steady presence in the indie film world, co-starring in Clark Gregg's "Trust Me" (2013), Jeff Baena's horror comedy "Life After Beth" (2014), coming of age comedy-drama "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (2015) and black comedy "Addicted to Fresno" (2015).

After winning a Best Supporting Female Independent Spirit Award for her role in dysfunctional family comedy drama "Other People" (2016), Shannon co-starred in Sarah Jessica Parker's TV comeback "Divorce" (HBO 2016- ).

She reteamed with director Jeff Baena and star Aubrey Plaza for "The Little Hours" (2017), a quirky comedy set in a 14th century Italian convent.

Credits

A Good PersonStream

Actor
Diane
Movie
2023
58%

Norm Macdonald: Nothing SpecialStream

Self
Stand-up
2022

I Love That for YouStream

Actor
Jackie Stilton
Series
2022
81%

Hotel Transylvania: TransformaniaStream

Voice
Wanda
Movie
2022
47%

Spin Me RoundStream

Actor
Deb
Movie
2022
47%

The Drew Barrymore ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2020

Promising Young WomanStream

Actor
Mrs. Fisher
Movie
2020
90%

Horse Girl

Actor
Joan
Movie
2020

Today With Hoda & Jenna

Guest
Show
2019

The Other TwoStream

Actor
Pat
Series
2019
97%

The 2019 Rose Parade Live With Cord and Tish

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Tish Cattigan
Show
2019

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

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Joline
Movie
2019

Sextuplets

Actor
Linda
Movie
2019

The Other Two: Extras

Actor
Pat Dubek
Show
2018

Today 3rd Hour

Guest
Show
2018

GMA Day

Guest
News
2018

The Royal Wedding Live With Cord and Tish!

Host
Tish Cattigan
Show
2018

The Royal Wedding Live With Cord and Tish!

Producer
Show
2018

The 2018 Rose Parade Hosted by Cord & Tish

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Tish Cattigan
Show
2018

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer VacationStream

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Wanda
Movie
2018
62%

Half Magic

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Mistress Valesca
Movie
2018

Wild Nights With Emily

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Adult Emily
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2018

Private LifeStream

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Cynthia
Movie
2018
94%

Will & GraceStream

Guest Star
Val
Series
2017
74%

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years LaterStream

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Gail von Kleinenstein
Miniseries
2017

Live with Kelly and Ryan

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2017

We Don't Belong Here

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Deborah
Movie
2017

The Little Hours

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Mother Superior
Movie
2017

Fun Mom Dinner

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Jamie
Movie
2017

The Layover

Actor
Nancy
Movie
2017

DivorceStream

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Diane
Series
2016
78%

Celebrity PageStream

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News
2016

Other People

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Joanne
Movie
2016

Miles

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Pam Walton
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2016

NerdlandStream

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2016
21%

Patricia Heaton PartiesStream

Guest Star
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2015

Life in PiecesStream

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Allie
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2015

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

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2015

Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter

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2015

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of CampStream

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Gail von Kleinenstein
Series
2015
85%

The Late Late Show With James Corden

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2015

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlStream

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Denise Kushner
Movie
2015
81%

Hotel Transylvania 2Stream

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Wanda
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2015
56%

Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant

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Emily McCoy
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2015

Addicted to Fresno

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Margaret
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2015

Come Simi

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Go Pilot
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2015

Variety Studio: Actors on Actors

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2014

BenchedStream

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Judge Conner
Series
2014
69%

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

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2014

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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2014

Life After BethStream

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Geenie
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2014
45%

The Club

Self
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2014

The MillersStream

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Miss Pam
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2013
47%

The MillersStream

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Miss Pam
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2013
47%

Super Fun Night

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2013

Hollywood Game Night

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Game Show
2013

HannibalStream

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Kidnapper
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2013
92%

Hotel Transylvania: Extras

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2013

Scary Movie 5Stream

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Heather Daltry
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2013
4%

Trust Me

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Janice
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2013

Live! With Kelly and Michael

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2012

Entertainment Studios.TV

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2012

Doc McStuffinsStream

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Rita the Cheetah
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2012

Hotel TransylvaniaStream

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Wanda
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2012
47%

Will Ferrell: The Mark Twain Prize

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2011

EnlightenedStream

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Eileen
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2011
87%

Up All Night

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2011

Web TherapyStream

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2011

Happily DivorcedStream

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2011

Bob's BurgersStream

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Millie
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2011

Bad TeacherStream

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Melody
Movie
2011
44%

ConanStream

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2010

The Women of SNL

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2010

Overheard With Evan Smith

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2010

The Talk

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2010

Raising HopeStream

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2010
96%

Access Hollywood Live

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2010

Neighbors From Hell

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Tina Hellman
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2010

Who Do You Think You Are?Stream

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Reality
2010

The MiddleStream

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Janet
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2009

ES.TV

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2009

Watch What Happens Live With Andy CohenStream

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2009

GleeStream

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Brenda Castle
Series
2009
70%

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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2009

What Goes Up

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Penelope
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2009

Kath & Kim

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Kath Day
Series
2008
20%

NBC Primetime Preview

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2008

IgorStream

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Eva
Movie
2008
40%

Pushing DaisiesStream

Guest Star
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2007
96%

Today With Kathie Lee & Hoda

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2007

The Better Show

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2007

Year of the Dog

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Peggy
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2007

Evan AlmightyStream

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Eve Adams
Movie
2007
24%

More of Me

Actor
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2007

30 RockStream

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Katherine Catherine
Series
2006
78%

Amazing Screw-On Head

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2006

The New Adventures of Old ChristineStream

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2006

Marie AntoinetteStream

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Anne Victoire
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2006
58%

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky BobbyStream

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Mrs. Dennit
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2006
71%

Little ManStream

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Suburban Mom
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2006
12%

Shut Up and Sing

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Trish
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2006

Gray Matters

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Carrie
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2006

Made in Hollywood

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2005

American DadStream

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Kristy
Series
2005

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

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2005

Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie

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Jackie Frost
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2005

Cracking Up

Actor
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2004

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

12 Days of Christmas Eve

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Angie
Movie
2004

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

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2003

My Boss's DaughterStream

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Audrey
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2003
8%

The Music ManStream

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Mrs. Eulalie MacKechnie Shinn
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2003
40%

American SplendorStream

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Stage Actor Joyce
Movie
2003
94%

Good Boy!

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Mrs. Baker
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2003

ScrubsStream

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Denise
Series
2001
83%

Live With Regis and Kelly

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2001

Live With Regis and Kelly

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2001

Wet Hot American SummerStream

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Gail
Movie
2001
38%

Osmosis Jones

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Mrs. Boyd
Movie
2001

SerendipityStream

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Eve
Movie
2001
59%

Ed

Guest Star
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2000

My 5 Wives

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Barbara Van Dyke
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2000

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasStream

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Betty Lou Who
Movie
2000
49%

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

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Talk
1999

Analyze ThisStream

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Caroline
Movie
1999
69%

Never Been KissedStream

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Anita Olesky
Movie
1999
55%

SuperstarStream

Actor
Mary Katherine Gallagher
Movie
1999
32%

SuperstarStream

Writer
Movie
1999
32%

Hôhokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun

Voice
Matsuko Yamada
Movie
1999

Will & GraceStream

Guest Star
Val Bassett
Series
1998

Kickin' It: With Byron Allen

Guest
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1998

Sex and the CityStream

Guest Star
Lily Martin
Series
1998
70%

A Night at the RoxburyStream

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Emily Sanderson
Movie
1998
11%

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

Dinner & Driving

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Arguing Woman in Cafe
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1997

The Single Guy

Guest Star
Series
1995
75%

Entertainers: With Byron Allen

Guest
Show
1994

Return to Two Moon Junction

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Traci
Movie
1994

Late Night With Conan O'Brien

Guest
Talk
1993

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Guest
Talk
1992

In Living Color

Guest Star
Series
1990

Twin PeaksStream

Guest Star
Judy Swain
Series
1990
77%

SeinfeldStream

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Sam
Series
1989
89%

The Phantom of the Opera

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Meg (New York)
Movie
1989

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Actor
Series
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Guest Star
Series
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Host
Series
1975

Sesame StreetStream

Guest Star
Series
1969

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutMolly Shannon

Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short in 'Only Murders in the Building' Season 4

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Unveils Star-Studded Season 4 Teaser (VIDEO)

Meryl Streep, Richard Kind, and Selena Gomez for 'Only Murders in the Building' Season 4

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Season 4: Who’s Returning & Who’s New?

Josh Segarra, Heléne Yorke, and Drew Tarver in 'The Other Two'

‘The Other Two’ Ending With Season 3 at Max

Drew Tarver, Molly Shannon, and Heléne Yorke of 'The Other Two'
Finale

‘The Other Two’ Cast Talks Rock Bottoms, Fave Guest Stars & Couples, and More (VIDEO)

Molly Shannon in 'The Other Two'
Spoiler Alert

‘The Other Two’ Team Talks Pat’s Fame & Relationship With Streeter in Season 3

‘Saturday Night Live’: Molly Shannon & Ana De Armas Announced as Hosts

Heléne Yorke and Drew Tarver in 'The Other Two'

‘The Other Two’ Sets Season 3 Premiere Date, Plus Returning & New Guest Stars (PHOTOS)

Vanessa Bayer as Joanna Gold in I LOVE THAT FOR YOU Episode 8
Spoiler Alert

‘I Love That for You’ Creator on the Finale, the ‘SNL’ Cameo You Maybe Missed & More

Jenifer Lewis as Patricia, Vanessa Bayer as Joanna, and Molly Shannon as Jackie in I Love That For You on Showtime
Preview

‘I Love That For You’: Vanessa Bayer, Molly Shannon & Jenifer Lewis on Their Comedic Chemistry

I Love That For You Molly Shannon, Vanessa Bayer, Jenifer Lewis
Exclusive

‘I Love That for You’: Vanessa Bayer & Co-Stars Tease New Showtime Series (VIDEO)

Molly Shannon, Ken Marino, Heléne Yorke , Drew Tarver in The Other Two
Q&A

‘The Other Two’ Bosses on Cary’s Movie, Brooke & Lance’s Future, Pat’s Career & More

Case Walker as ChaseDreams, Ken Marino as Streeter in The Other Two
Spoiler Alert

‘The Other Two’: Case Walker on Chase’s Big Decision & Frustrations About His Singing Career

Molly Shannon as Pat, Tim Rogan in The Other Two
Preview

Molly Shannon Talks ‘Dream’ Talk Show Gig on ‘The Other Two’ Season 2

'The Other Two' stars Heléne Yorke and Drew Tarver

‘The Other Two’ Season 2 Trailer: Pat’s Famous Now, But What About Brooke & Cary? (VIDEO)

The Other Two - Season 2 - HBO Max - Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke

‘The Other Two’ Gets Long-Awaited Season 2 Premiere Date on HBO Max

Vanessa Bayer and Molly Shannon

Vanessa Bayer & Molly Shannon Comedy ‘I Love This For You’ Gets Showtime Series Order

Review

Roush Review: Dark Clouds in Paradise in HBO’s ‘White Lotus’

Connie Britton holding up a glass of white wine in The White Lotus

‘The White Lotus’: HBO Unveils First Look & Announces Premiere Date

Olivia Wilde - BoJack Horseman

10 Stars You Didn’t Know Voiced Animated TV Characters (PHOTOS)

Molly Shannon in Divorce
Preview

‘Divorce’ Scene Stealer Molly Shannon on Diane’s Decision in Season 3

The Other Two - Case Walker and Ken Marino

10 Perfect Moments From Season 1 of Comedy Central’s ‘The Other Two’ (PHOTOS)

Megan Mullally on TLC's Who Do You Think You Are?
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‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Season 10 to Feature Megan Mullally & More (VIDEO)

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First-Look Photos and Trailer: Netflix’s ‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’

Divorce - Molly Shannon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Talia Balsam

‘Divorce’: Molly Shannon On Being Sarah Jessica Parker’s ‘Self-Centered’ Buddy

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