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.
O'Hara was born in Toronto, Ontario, into a large family of Irish descent. She was raised Catholic. 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. 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. 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. 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 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.
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.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, O'Hara married production designer Bo Welch in 1992, with whom she has two sons, Matthew (b. 1994) and Luke (b. 1997). 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.1982 – Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Show (SCTV Network 90) *(episode: Moral Majority Show)
1995 – Gemini Awards: Earle Grey Award
2000 – Genie Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (The Life Before This)
2001 – American Comedy Awards for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Best in Show)
2001 – Canadian Comedy Awards for Pretty Funny Female Performance in Film (Best in Show)
2003 – Seattle Film Critics Awards for Best Music (A Mighty Wind)
2004 – Florida Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Ensemble Cast (A Mighty Wind)
2006 – National Board of Review for Best Supporting Actress (For Your Consideration)
2007 – Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Supporting Actress (For Your Consideration)
2016 – Canadian Screen Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role (Schitt's Creek)
2016 – ACTRA Toronto Awards for Outstanding Performance - Female (Schitt's Creek)
1982 – Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (SCTV Network 90) *(episodes: Cycle Two, Show Two and Christmas Show)
1983 – Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (SCTV Network 90) *(episode: The Christmas Show)
1998 – Gemini Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series (The Outer Limits)
2001 – Satellite Awards: Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical (Best in Show)
2004 – Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Ensemble Acting (A Mighty Wind)
2004 – Satellite Awards: Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical (A Mighty Wind)
2006 – Gotham Awards for Best Ensemble Cast (For Your Consideration)
2007 – Independent Spirit Awards for Best Female Lead (For Your Consideration)
2007 – Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress (For Your Consideration)
2010 – Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Temple Grandin)
2010 – Satellite Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Temple Grandin)
2011 – Screen Actors Guild Awards: Actor Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Temple Grandin)
2012 – Annie Awards: Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production for Frankenweenie