Catherine Anne O’Hara OC (born March 4, 1954) is a Canadian-American actress, comedian, writer, and singer. She first drew notice as an actress in 1974 as a member of The Second City improvisational comedy troupe in Toronto. She landed her first significant television role starring opposite John Candy and Dan Aykroyd in the main cast of the sitcom Coming Up Rosie (1975–1978). The following year, O’Hara and Candy began work on the sketch comedy series Second City Television (1976–84), with Candy, Robin Duke, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, Tony Rosato, Martin Short, and Dave Thomas; where she drew critical acclaim for both her work as a comedic actress and writer, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 1981.
Early films include Nothing Personal (1980), with Suzanne Somers, Donald Sutherland, Roscoe Lee Browne, Dabney Coleman, Lawrence Dane, Chief Dan George, John Dehner; Double Negative (1980), with Michael Sarrazin, Susan Clark, Anthony Perkins, Howard Duff, Kate Reid, and Al Waxman; Martin Scorsese‘s After Hours (1985), with Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Thomas Chong, Griffin Dunne, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, John Heard, and Cheech Marin; and Mike Nichols’ (1986), with Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Stockard Channing, Jeff Daniels, and Miloš Forman.
O’Hara has appeared in several films directed by Tim Burton, beginning with the role of Delia Deetz in the horror fantasy comedy film Beetlejuice (1988), with Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Winona Ryder, Sylvia Sidney, and Glenn Shadix. Other roles she has portrayed in Burton films include the voices of Sally and Shock in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), with Chris Sarandon, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, and Shaddix; and Susan Frankenstein and the Weird Girl in Frankenweenie (2012), with Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, and Ryder.
O’Hara has also frequently collaborated with director and writer Christopher Guest, appearing in the mockumentary films Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006), collectively with Levy, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Jennifer Coolidge; the latter of which she won the National Board of Review’s for Best Supporting Actress award and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
She probably also known to audiences for her performance as Kate McCallister, the mother of Kevin, in the John Hughes/Chris Columbus Christmas comedy film Home Alone (1990) and its sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), with Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, and Daniel Stern. Other films in the early 1990 include Dick Tracey (1990), with Warren Beatty (who also directed), Al Pacino, Madonna, Glenne Headly, and Charlie Korsmo; Betsy’s Wedding (1990), with Alan Alda (who also directed), Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Madeline Kahn, Joey Bishop, Pesci, Anthony LaPaglia, and Burt Young; Ron Howard‘s The Paper (1994), with Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Randy Quaid, Robert Duvall, and Jason Robards; Lawrence Kasdan’s Wyatt Earp (1994), with Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Mark Harmon, Michael Madsen, Bill Pullman, Dennis Quaid, Isabella Rossellini, Tom Sizemore, JoBeth Williams, Mare Winningham, and Jim Caviezel; A Simple Twist of Fate (1994), with Steve Martin, Gabriel Byrne, and Laura Linney.
Films in the mid to late 1990s include Tall Tale (1995), with Scott Glenn, Oliver Platt, Nick Stahl, Stephen Lang, Roger Aaron Brown, and Patrick Swayze; The Last of the High Kings (1996), with Jared Leto, Christina Ricci, Byrne, Amanda Shun, Stephen Rea, and Colm Meaney; Home Fries (1998), with Drew Barrymore, Luke Wilson, Jake Busey, and Shelley Duvall, and for the crime drama film The Life Before This (1999), with Joe Pantoliano, Sarah Polley, and Rea; for which she won a Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.
Films in the 2000s include Speaking of Sex (2001), with Bill Murray, James Spader, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Jay Mohr; Jake Kasdan’s Orange County (2002), with Colin Hanks, Jack Black, Schuyler Fisk, John Lithgow, Leslie Mann, Lily Tomlin, and Kevin Klein; Surviving Christmas (2004), with Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, and Christina Applegate; A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), with Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken, Emily Browning, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly, Cedric the Entertainer, Luis Guzmán, Coolidge, Meryl Streep, and Jude Law; and Game 6 (2005), with Keaton, Bebe Neuwirth, Dunne, and Robert Downey Jr..
Later roles include Penelope (2008), with Ricci, James McAvoy, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant, and Reese Witherspoon; Sam Mendes’ Away We Go (2009), with John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Chris Messina, and Paul Schneider; Killers (2010), with Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, and Tom Selleck; and A.O.C.D. (2013), with Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Amy Poehler, Clark Duke, and Jessica Alba, and Lynch.
In 2010, O’Hara was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film for her portrayal of Aunt Ann in Temple Grandin (2010), Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, and David Strathairn. For her work on the television series Schitt’s Creek (2015–2020), with Levy, Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy; she has won five consecutive Canadian Screen Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and earned two nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, winning in 2020. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2018 and was honoured with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award in 2020.
Her other notable television appearances include the recurring roles of Dr. Georgina Orwell in the Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events and Carol Ward in Six Feet Under, and the voices of Jackie Martin in Glenn Martin, DDS, Miss Malone in The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, Kaossandra in Skylanders Academy and Liz Larsen in Committed. She has also hosted Saturday Night Live twice and made numerous guest appearances on sitcoms, variety shows, and late night television.
Other voice roles include Bartok the Magnificent (1999), with Hank Azaria, Kelsey Grammer, Andrea Martin, Tim Curry, Jennifer Tilly, French Stewart, Phillip Van Dyke, and Diedrich Bader; Chicken Little (2005), with Zach Braff, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Garry Marshall, Amy Sedaris, Mark Walton, and Don Knotts; Over the Hedge (2006), with Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, Wanda Sykes, and Nick Nolte; Monster House (2006), with Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Jason Lee, Willard, Jon Heder, and Kathleen Turner; Brother Bear (2006), with Patrick Dempsey, Mandy Moore, Jim Cummings, Michael Clarke Duncan; Where the Wild Things Are (2009), with Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose, Forest Whitaker, and Chris Cooper; the English dub of When Marnie Was There (2014), with Hailee Steinfeld, Vanessa Williams, Geena Davis, John C. Reilly, Ellen Burstyn, and Kathy Bates; The Addams Family (2019), with Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, and Janney; and Extinct (2021), Adam DeVine, Rachel Bloom, Zazie Beetz, and Ken Jeong.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Nothing Personal (1980) – directed by George Bloomfield
- Double Negative (1980) – directed by George Bloomfield – aka Deadly Companion
- Rock & Rule (1983) – directed by Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert, & Clive A. Smith – aka Ring of Power
- After Hours (1985) – directed by Martin Scorsese
- Heartburn (1986) – directed by Mike Nichols
- Beetlejuice (1988)** – directed by Tim Burton
- Dick Tracy (1990) – directed by Warren Beatty
- Betsy’s Wedding (1990) – directed by Alan Alda
- Home Alone (1990) – directed by Chris Columbus
- Little Vegas (1990) – directed by Perry Lang
- There Goes the Neighborhood (1992) – directed by Bill Phillips – aka Paydirt
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)* – directed by Chris Columbus
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – directed by Henry Selick
- The Paper (1994) – directed by Ron Howard
- Wyatt Earp (1994) – directed by Lawrence Kasdan
- A Simple Twist of Fate (1994) – directed by Gillies MacKinnon
- Tall Tale (1995) – directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
- Waiting for Guffman (1996) – directed by Christopher Guest
- The Last of the High Kings (1996) – directed by David Keating – aka Summer Fling
- Pippi Longstocking (1997) – directed by Michael Schaack & Clive A. Smith
- Hope (1997) – directed by Goldie Hawn – TV movie
- Home Fries (1998) – directed by Dean Parisot
- Late Last Night (1999) – directed by Steven Brill – TV movie
- Bartok the Magnificent (1999) – directed by Don Bluth & Gary Goldman – straight to video
- Life Before This (1999) – directed by Jerry Ciccoritti
- Best in Show (2000) – directed by Christopher Guest
- Speaking of Sex (2001) – directed by John McNaughton
- Orange County (2002)* – directed by Jake Kasdan
- A Mighty Wind (2003) – directed by Christopher Guest
- Surviving Christmas (2004) – directed by Mike Mitchell
- The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch (2004) – directed by Eric Idle
- The Wool Cap (2004) – directed by Steven Schachter – TV movie
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) – directed by Brad Silberling
- Game 6 (2005) – directed by Michael Hoffman
- Chicken Little (2005) – directed by Mark Dindal
- Over the Hedge (2006) – directed by Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick
- Monster House (2006) – directed by Gil Kenan
- Brother Bear (2006) – directed by Ben Gluck
- For Your Consideration (2006) – directed by Christopher Guest
- Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006) – directed by Greg Richardson
- Penelope (2008)* – directed by Mark Palansky
- Good Behavior (2008) – directed by Charles McDougall – TV movie
- Away We Go (2009) – directed by Sam Mendes
- Where the Wild Things Are (2009) – directed by Spike Jonze
- Temple Grandin (2010) – directed by Mick Jackson – TV movie
- Killers (2010) – directed by Robert Luketic
- A Monster in Paris (2011) – directed by Bibo Bergeron – English dub
- Frankenweenie (2012) – directed by Tim Burton
- A.C.O.D. (2013) – directed by Stu Zicherman
- The Right Kind of Wrong (2013) – directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
- My Future Assistant (2013) – directed by Peyton Reed – TV movie
- When Marnie Was Here (2014) – directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi – English dub
- What Lives Inside (2015) – directed by Robert Stromberg – miniseries
- The Addams Family (2019) – directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan
- Extinct (2021) – directed by David Silverman & Raymond S. Persi