Molly Shannon has constantly been an iconic actress and comedienne throughout her career. Through her many performances, she has kept many fans laughing for decades.
Specifically, her stint on “Saturday Night Live” resulted in creating so many characters through her sketch show.
A notable character was Mary Katherine Gallagher. This character resonated with most of her audience and skyrocketed her career. While many might not know the origin of her characters due to their goofy persona, most of her iconic roles were borne from a place of tragedy.
In her memoir, “Hello, Molly,” Shannon opened up about how a childhood tragedy inspired her outlook on life and helped birth her characters.
Read on for more details.
She Suffered A Devastating Loss As A Child
When Shannon was a kid, she lost her younger sister, mother, and cousin in a car accident. Her dad, who had been driving under the influence, survived with minor injuries.
“I was very heartbroken and very sad and just trying to hold it all together as a kid,” Shannon spoke to the LA Times of the incident. “There’s no way that you could feel that type of deep pain about your mother and your sister being dead, so you just hold it all in, and it comes up later in life.”
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Following the accident, Shannon and her sister went to live with her aunt.
“The life that we left was not the same life we were coming back into. It just felt like everything was different,” she added. “We would learn to do fun stuff, like tie our shoes, and I felt like, ‘Katie, my little sister, should be here learning. She would have loved this. Katie would have loved doing the rabbits and tying her shoe.'”
Her Grief Pushed Her To Make Characters
While speaking to the LA Times, she said her grief pushed her to the stage. Shannon became a professional thespian as a fifth-grader, playing Dorothy in “Wizard Of Oz.” The camaraderie from her co-stars helped her settle in real quick.
“They were different from Catholic kids — more affectionate,” continued Shannon. “That was what first attracted me. How sweet they were. They would hug you, and I missed some of that from not having a mom.”
In her memoir, she explained the origin of her characters. “I was doing the character as a very nervous person — an exaggerated version of myself and how I felt. Mary Katherine wants to be a star, and she wants to be seen, and she wants her mom to come back from the dead … The character is a survivor … an adult child of an alcoholic—a girl who trips. But gets back up. It’s an emotional character. I wrote from my heart.” She concluded, “I’m a lot like Mary Katherine Gallagher. I’m a survivor.”
It’s been two decades since she left “SNL,” but her legacy is still imprinted in everyone’s hearts. She has made a name for herself in comedy, usually playing characters that explore complex and controversial themes.
“You feel like you put your heart right there on the table, but I hope that my story can help other people.”
Though she still misses her mom and younger sibling, the loss heightens her sensibilities, and it feels her with only gratitude.
“I look at life differently, losing my mom, and living beyond the years that she ever got to live,” Shannon began. “And I feel gratitude.”
She continued, “Some of the stuff that people complain about, as far as parenting goes, I can’t relate to. I just think, They are alive!”
She Also Wrote About Her Dad In The Memoir
In 2002, her father died following a two-year battle with prostate cancer. The year before, the actress had a conversation with her dad where he embraced his sexual orientation, which he had dealt with prior.
Although he was the main reason for her loss, she still felt a twinge of gratitude as she got to say a final goodbye to her dad on his deathbed.
“I held his hands in the hospital room. I felt incredibly honored to be there while he was dying,” she writes, per People. “I had lost my mother so abruptly. I treasured the good ending with my dad. That the rug was not pulled out from under me so suddenly. That I had time to say goodbye.”
About ‘I Love That For You’
Shannon and fellow “SNL” alum Vannesa Bayer co-created and co-starred in the show. Shannon plays Jackie Stilton, a fictional host at SVN. While she spoke of her experiences on the show, she added that she was tutored by Bayer, especially in the home shopping part of the show.
While speaking with E! News she said, “[Vanessa] coached me. I don’t really know anything about that world,” Shannon admitted. “Of course, I did watch it once I got the part. But Vanessa taught me.”
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