Catherine O'Hara

Catherine O'Hara

O'Hara in 2006
Born Catherine Anne O'Hara
(1954-03-04) March 4, 1954
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actress, writer, comedian
Years active 1975–present
Spouse(s) Bo Welch (m. 1992)
Children 2

Catherine Anne O'Hara (born March 4, 1954) is a Canadian-American actress, writer, and comedian. She is known for her comedy work on Second City Television (1976–84) and in films such as After Hours (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Home Alone (1990), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Her other film appearances include the mockumentary films written and directed by Christopher Guest: Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006).

O'Hara won the 1982 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series for SCTV Network, the Genie Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1999 film The Life Before This, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the 2010 television film Temple Grandin. Since 2015, she has starred as Moira Rose on the CBC sitcom Schitt's Creek, for which she won the 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Early life

O'Hara was born in Toronto, Ontario, into a large family of Irish descent.[1] She was raised Catholic.[2] She is the sixth of seven children. She attended Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute, where she first met Robin Duke, who went on to her own comedy career.


Catherine started her comedy career in 1974 as a cast member of The Second City in her native Toronto.[3] She was an understudy for Gilda Radner until Radner left for Saturday Night Live. Two years later, this theater troupe created the sketch comedy show SCTV, for which O'Hara became a regular performer. Her memorable characterizations on the show included Las Vegas scorcher Lola Heatherton, buzzer-happy game show contestant Margaret Meehan, raunchy nightclub comedian Dusty Towne, soap opera seductress Sue Ellen, and stage actress Sue Bopper Simpson.

In the late 1970s, she provided voice-overs for a number of cartoons, work which would continue throughout her career. During a short time in the early 1980s when SCTV was in between network deals, she was hired to replace Ann Risley when Saturday Night Live was being retooled in 1981. However, she quit the show without ever appearing on air, choosing to go back to SCTV when the show signed on with NBC.[4][5] Her SNL position was then given to fellow Canadian Robin Duke, who had also replaced O'Hara for a season on SCTV.

O'Hara began her career on television, apart from SCTV, in the mid-1970s. She appeared in the 1976 television film The Rimshots, the children's television series Coming Up Rosie for a year, and television specials, such as Witch's Night Out and Intergalactic Thanksgiving. But it was her performances on SCTV that earned her fame in Canada, which is why she returned to the show, not only as an actress but as a writer for both SCTV and SCTV Network 90, which earned her an Emmy Award for outstanding writing and two Emmy Award nominations. She also has written for SCTV Channel. O'Hara has appeared in a number of television series and television films and continues to work in television. During the '90s, she made guest appearances on Tales from the Crypt, Oh Baby, Morton & Hayes and The Larry Sanders Show. She served as actress and director on Dream On and The Outer Limits, the revival of the '60s series of the same name. In the past decade, O'Hara has guest-starred on top-rated television series including Six Feet Under and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In May 2008, it was announced that she had signed on to star in the upcoming ABC dramedy Good Behavior.[6] Her role in the 2010 television film Temple Grandin earned her three award nominations: a Primetime Emmy Award, a Satellite Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

O'Hara's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

O'Hara has also had a successful career in film. She made her feature debut in the 1980 film Double Negative, which also starred her SCTV co-stars John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Joe Flaherty. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, O'Hara appeared in many supporting roles, including Martin Scorsese's After Hours and Heartburn, with Meryl Streep. She had more notable roles in Beetlejuice, the blockbuster hit Home Alone and its sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. In 1992, O'Hara worked alongside Jeff Daniels in the comedy There Goes the Neighborhood. O'Hara continued to appear in many films during the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century. She received roles in four of Christopher Guest's mockumentary films, three of which earned her awards and nominations: Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration. Her role in 1999's The Life Before This won her a Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. She also appeared in episodes 6, 10 and 11 on the tenth and final series of the UK Whose Line is it Anyway? In 2006, she starred with Christina Ricci in the fantasy feature Penelope. O'Hara has served as a voice artist in a number of animated movies, including The Nightmare Before Christmas, Chicken Little, Over the Hedge, Monster House, Brother Bear 2 and Frankenweenie.

On June 9, 2007, O'Hara was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. On February 28, 2010, she spoke at the Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. In 2015 Canada Post placed her image on a postage stamp.[7]

O'Hara is currently starring alongside fellow SCTV alumnus, Eugene Levy, as Moira Rose in the CBC situational comedy Schitt's Creek. Her role earned her the 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.[8]

Celebrities impersonated on SCTV

Personal life

A naturalized U.S. citizen,[9] O'Hara married production designer Bo Welch in 1992, with whom she has two sons, Matthew (b. 1994) and Luke (b. 1997).[10] She is the sister of critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Margaret O'Hara, and is a singer-songwriter in her own right, having written and performed songs in Christopher Guest's film A Mighty Wind.



Title Year Role Notes
Double Negative 1980 Audrey
Nothing Personal Judith
Rock & Rule 1983 Aunt Edith (voice)
After Hours 1985 Gail
Heartburn 1986 Betty
Beetlejuice 1988 Delia Deetz
Dick Tracy 1990 Texie Garcia
Betsy's Wedding Gloria Henner
Home Alone Kate McCallister
Little Vegas Lexie
There Goes the Neighborhood 1992 Jessica Lodge Internationally re-titled "Paydirt"
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Kate McCallister
The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 Sally/Shock (voice)
The Paper 1994 Susan
Wyatt Earp Allie Earp
A Simple Twist of Fate April Simon
Tall Tale 1995 Calamity Jane
Waiting for Guffman 1996 Sheila Albertson
The Last of the High Kings Cathleen
Pippi Longstocking 1997 Mrs. Prysselius (voice)
Home Fries 1998 Beatrice Lever
The Life Before This 1999 Sheena
Bartok the Magnificent Ludmilla (voice) Direct-to-video
Best in Show 2000 Cookie Fleck
Speaking of Sex 2001 Connie Barker
Orange County 2002 Cindy Beugler
A Mighty Wind 2003 Mickey Crabbe
Surviving Christmas 2004 Christine Valco
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Justice Strauss
Game 6 2005 Lillian Rogan
Chicken Little Tina (voice)
Over the Hedge 2006 Penny (voice)
Monster House Mrs. Walters (voice)
Brother Bear 2 Kate (voice) Direct-to-video
Penelope Jessica Wilhern
For Your Consideration Marilyn Heck
Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses Rowena (voice) Direct-to-video
Away We Go 2009 Gloria Farlander
Where the Wild Things Are Judith (voice)
Killers 2010 Mrs. Kornfeldt
A Monster in Paris 2011 Madame Carlotta (voice) English dub version
Frankenweenie 2012 Susan Frankenstein/Gym Teacher/Weird Girl (voice)
A.C.O.D. 2013 Melissa
The Right Kind of Wrong Tess
When Marnie Was There 2014 Old Woman (voice) From Studio Ghibli; English dub
Harvey Beaks 2017 Tina (voice)
Rememory TBA Carolyn


Title Year Role Notes
Wayne and Shuster 1975 Various 1975 Show #2
Coming Up Rosie 197677 Marna Wallbacker
Witch's Night Out 1978 Malicious (voice) CBC/NBC television special
Please Don't Eat The Planet 1979 Ma Spademinder (voice) Television short
Easter Fever 1980 Scarlett O'Hare CBC television special
From Cleveland Various "pilot"; series not picked up
Also served as writer
You've Come a Long Way, Katie' Mini-series
The Steve Allen Comedy Hour 1981 Various 1 episode - 29 May 1981
The New Show 1984 Various Season 1 - 3 episodes
SCTV 197684 Various Main; Seasons 1 & 2 - 50 episodes
Main; Season 4 - 27 episodes (renamed SCTV Network 90)
Guest; Season 6 - 5 episodes (renamed SCTV Channel)
Also served as writer for seasons 1, 2, 4 & 6
Served as writer for The Best of SCTV
George Burns Comedy Week 1985 Episode - "The Dynamite Girl"
Trying Times 1987 Rebecca Season 1, episode 3 "Get a Job"
The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley 1988 Miss Malone (voice) Main role; season 1 - 13 episodes
Saturday Night Live 1988 Cameo as herself Season 14, episode 2
I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood 1989 Nancy Mae HBO television special
Andrea Martin... Together Again Various Television special
Also served as writer for special material
The Dave Thomas Comedy Show 1990 Season 1, episode 5
Dream On Irma Season 1, episode 12 "555-HELL"
Director for season 2, episode 3 "And Your Little Dog, Too"
Morton & Hayes 1991 Amelia von Astor Season 1, episode 2 "Daffy Dicks"
Saturday Night Live 1991 Herself Season 16, episode 17, Host
The Larry Sanders Show 1992 Herself Season 1, episode 9 "The Talk Show Episode"
Saturday Night Live 1992 Herself Season 18, episode 5, Host
The Hidden Room 1993 Laurel Brody Season 2, episode 12 "The First Battle"
Tales from the Crypt 1994 Geraldine Ferrett Season 6, episode 1 "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime"
The Outer Limits 1997 Becka Paulson Season 3, episode 15 "The Revelations of Becka Paulson"
Served as director for Season 4, Episode 9 "Glyphic"
Oh Baby 1999 Roberta Hunter Season 1, episode 20 "Discrimination"
MADtv 2000 Woman on Blind Date Season 5, episode 24
Committed 2001 Liz Larsen Main role; season 1
Bram & Alice 2002 Ms. O'Connor Season 1, episode 1 "Pilot"
Odd Job Jack 2003 Claudia Johnson Season 1, episode 9 "Broke & Broker"
Six Feet Under 200305 Carol Ward Season 3, episode 1 "Perfect Circles"
Season 3, episode 2 "You Never Know"
Season 3, episode 3 "The Eye Inside"
Season 5, episode 1 "A Coat of White Primer"
Curb Your Enthusiasm 2009 Bam Bam Season 7, episode 1 "Funkhouser's Crazy Sister"
Glenn Martin, DDS 200911 Jackie Martin (voice) Main role; 2 seasons
Leslie 2012 Leslie 2 webisodes from the first season of web channel WIGS
"New York, 1995" (2 webisodes)
30 Rock Pearline Season 7, episode 2 "Governor Dunston"
The Greatest Event in Television History 2013 Muriel Rush Adult Swim special
Episode 3 "Too Close for Comfort"
What Lives Inside 2015 Sarah Delaney Mini-series; 4 episodes
Schitt's Creek 2015 Moira Rose Main role; current role
13 episodes
Season 2 coming in 2016
Modern Family 2015 Marriage counselor Season 7, episode 8 "Clean Out Your Junk Drawer"
Skylanders Academy 2016 Kaossandra
A Series of Unfortunate Events 2017 Dr. Georgina Orwell

Television film

Title Year Role Notes
The Rimshots 1976
The Last Polka 1985 Lemon Twin HBO television film
Dave Thomas: The Incredible Time Travels of Henry Osgood 1986 Marie Antoinette
Really Weird Tales 1987 Theresa Sharpe Segment: "I'll Die Loving"
Also served as writer
Hope 1997 Muriel Macswain
Late Last Night 1999 Shrink
The Wool Cap 2004 Gloria TNT television film
Good Behavior 2008 Jackie West ABC television film
Temple Grandin 2010 Aunt Ann HBO television film
To My Future Assistant 2013 Magda

Awards and nominations




  1. Onstad, Katrina (April 12, 2005)"Inductee: Mary Margaret O'Hara". CBC News. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  2. "Proust Questionnaire: Catherine O'Hara". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  3. "The Second City". Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  4. "Catherine The Great". Toronto: June 2, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  5. "SCTV Shoots For First". Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  6. Waldman, Allison (May 2, 2008) "Oh, good! Catherine O'Hara to star in ABC pilot". Retrieved October 14, 2011. Catherine O'Hara to star in ABC pilot
  7. "Canada Post honours Canuck comedians with new stamp series". August 29, 2014.
  8. "The Canadian Screen Awards: Call 'Em The 'Candys' From Now On". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  9. "Catherine O'Hara Biography (1954-)".
  10. "Catherine O'Hara". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved August 12, 2010.

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