In 1969, at age four, Molly Shannon survived a car crash that killed her mother, three year-old sister, and cousin. She later went on to graduate from Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio. After high school, Shannon attended the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in New York City. She graduated with a BFA in Drama in 1987.
Before Saturday Night Live, Molly had a struggling career in films. She first portrayed a supporting role as Meg in the present day sequences in the horror film remake of The Phantom of the Opera with Robert Englund and Jill Schoelen. Shannon's major break came in February 1995 when she was hired as a featured player on Saturday Night Live to replace the departing Janeane Garofalo. She played various parts on the comedy show and was especially known for playing the character of Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher as well as her impression of Monica Lewinsky (alongside frequent host John Goodman's Linda Tripp). Later, she played Sam, the co-worker who drove Elaine Benes crazy because she didn't swing her arms on the infamous episode of Seinfeld "The Summer of George."
Shannon left SNL in 2001 (she passed Victoria Jackson to become the show's longest-serving female cast member). In 1999 she revisited the role of Mary Katherine Gallagher for the motion picture Superstar, and had a supporting role in Never Been Kissed. In 2004, she starred in a television series for the Fox network, Cracking Up, with actor Jason Schwartzman. It only lasted nine episodes before being cancelled. Molly Shannon's recent films include Shallow Hal, The Santa Clause 2, Serendipity and the upcoming drama Marie-Antoinette, where she plays Louis XVI's aunt, Princess Sophie.
Molly Shannon married artist Fritz Chesnut on May 29, 2004. They have two children: daughter Stella (b. 2003) and son Nolan (b. 2005).
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