No disgruntled pelicans here! Catherine O’Hara has been making people laugh on screen since the ‘70s — and fans hope she never stops.
The Toronto native, who is the second youngest of seven children, has always been a fan of the ensemble cast partly because of her roots. “I’ve never, for a second, been drawn to the idea of doing a one-woman show,” O’Hara told Time in March 2019, noting her family’s dynamic played a part in her desire to become a comedian. “Because it’s so inspiring to work with good, talented people.”
The desire to collaborate with her peers served the Emmy-winning actress well when she joined the cast of Canada’s SCTV in 1974. The series launched O’Hara’s comedy career and introduced her to longtime friend Eugene Levy, whom she later starred alongside in Best in Show, For Your Consideration and Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek.
“Everyone has been in love with Catherine since she was 17,” Martin Short told Vanity Fair in May 2020, pointing to the first time he met the actress working at Second City Toronto. “No one made me laugh like her onstage. And she always brought a humanity to her characters. They always had a bent reality, but they were never not kind.”
O’Hara’s life continued to play out like a true Hollywood fairy tale after starring in 1988’s Beetlejuice. Not only did the film make her a real movie star, but while filming the cult classic, she met the man of her dreams, Bo Welch.
After uprooting her life for love in the late ’80s, the Home Alone star struck gold playing Kate McAllister in the 1990 holiday hit. While many fans remember Macaulay Culkin’s role as Kevin McAllister in the movie, O’Hara’s scream for “Kevin!” is something engrained in the minds of many of her fans.
Throughout her career, O’Hara hasn’t forgotten her comedy roots. That was made evident when shined as Schitt’s Creek‘s Moira Rose for five seasons — alongside Levy as her TV husband Johnny Rose — from 2015 to 2020. With the help of Eugene’s son, Dan Levy, who cocreated the show with his father, O’Hara was able to leave her mark on both Canadian and American television in one swoop.
“Networks down the line have pigeonholed or diminished the idea of what an older female character can be. So to be able to be a part of this moment for Catherine O’Hara at this point in her life and show the world that there is nothing sexier, nothing more hysterical than a woman over 50 — that was the joy,” Dan, who played Moira and Johnny’s son, David, told Vanity Fair in May 2020. “Because you’re dealing with a caliber of actor who is so seasoned and so willing to make choices that are outside people’s comfort zones. I think that’s what Moira Rose is a result of: Catherine having the runway to go for it.”
The show, which also starred Annie Murphy as daughter Alexis Rose, left a mark on TV lovers and O’Hara herself.
“I’m really spoiled,” she told Us Weekly and other reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January 2020. “I was spoiled right at the very beginning with Second City and SCTV. … It’s really hard to let go once you’ve had it at this point.”
Scroll down to relive O’Hara’s most iconic and memorable moments: