Date of Birth
March 4, 1954
Place of Birth
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Catherine Anne O’Hara
5′ 4″ (1.63 m)
Bo Welch (25 April 1992 – present with 2 children)
Matthew (1994) and Luke (1997)
O’Hara was born in Toronto, Ontario, into a large family of Irish descent. She was raised Catholic and is the sixth of seven children. She attended Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute, where she first met fellow comedian Robin Duke.
O’Hara met production designer Bo Welch on the set of Beetlejuice. They were married in 1992, and together have two sons. 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. She is a naturalized U.S. citizen. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and their children.
– She was part of the group Northern Lights who sang the song “Tears Are Not Enough” which was on the “We Are The World” album.
– Crowned Queen of Comedy after her years as a regular on SCTV (1976).
– Catherine O’Hara has an almost religious cult following around the world.
– A high school friend of Robin Duke at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. They first acted together in a school production of “Harvey”.
– Third generation Irish/Canadian/Catholic.
– Wrote SCTV (1976)’s famous sketch “High-Q”, considered one of the funniest sketches-.
– Composed the two songs she and her sister Mary Margaret O’Hara and friend Robin Duke performed in The Last Polka (1985).
– Owns a cottage (along with her husband Bo Welch) in Muskoka, Ontario.
– Learned to play the autoharp for her role in A Mighty Wind (2003).
– Gave a tearful eulogy at the funeral for John Candy.
– Went to the same high school as fellow Canadian entertainer Dave Foley.
– Auditioned for the role of Jane Craig in Broadcast News (1987). Holly Hunter was cast instead.
– Received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in June 2007.
– Began working at Toronto’s “Second City” in 1973 as a waitress. Her brother Marc O’Hara, and sister Mary Margaret O’Hara also had jobs there.
– A close friend of late actor John Candy.
– Does an excellent impersonation of Katharine Hepburn, as seen on SCTV (1976).
– Has a congenital condition called “Situs Inversus” in which the organs of the chest and abdomen are arranged in a perfect mirror image reversal of the normal positioning. Most people with situs inversus have no medical symptoms or complications resulting from the condition and it only occurs in less than 1 in 10,000.
– Often cast in Tim Burton films. He directed her in Beetlejuice (1988) and Frankenweenie (2012), and she provided voices for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), which Burton produced. She also starred in Lemony Snickets (2004) that he originally was set to direct.
– Her acting mentor was Comedian Gilda Radner.
– In 2013, she participated in “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton” to perform “Sally’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). She received a standing ovation when she entered the stage, as well as when she left.
– Pictured on one of a set of five nondenominated Canadian commemorative postage stamps honoring Great Canadian Comedians, issued 29 August 2014. In addition to the main portrait, she is shown in her roles as Delia Deetz in Beetlejuice (1988), Marilyn Hack in For Your Consideration (2006), and Mickey Crabbe in A Mighty Wind (2003). Others honored in this set are Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Martin Short, and Olivier Guimond. Price of each stamp on day of issue was 85¢.
– Her good friend John Candy passed away on her 40th birthday.
– After securing Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern for Home Alone (1990), Chris Columbus felt confident enough to cast actors who were his heroes growing up, like O’Hara after seeing her work on SCTV (1976) as well as John Heard, and Tim Curry and Rob Schneider on Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) because they were all open to the films.
– Revealed in 2014 that Macaulay Culkin, her on-screen son from Home Alone (1990) still calls her “Mom”.
– Stars in two Holiday classics, Home Alone (1990) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), that are annually given a theatrically December-re-release in several countries around the world.
– Has appeared in two unconnected adaptations of Daniel Handler’s book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events”; As Justice Strauss in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) and as Dr. Georgina Orwell in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2016).
– Turned down a part in Mascots (2016), by her frequent collaborator Christopher Guest, due to scheduling conflicts with Schitt’s Creek (2015). It was his first film since The Big Picture (1989) she didn’t star in.
– I’m pretty much a good Catholic girl at heart and I believe in family. I also have a basic belief that God takes care of me. I believe in prayer, even though I’m not that religious. I just have that foundation from my family. I mean when you think that you’re just a human being and one of God’s creatures, you can’t take anything that seriously.
– I lived in LA for a few months. It seemed like no one there had parents. Or if they did have parents, they would deny it.
– I think the success of my work stems from being truthful.
– I know. I’m lazy. But I made myself a New Years resolution that I would write myself something really special. Which means I have ’til December, right?
– Night time really is the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone is asleep.
– I never went to the prom or anything. I got asked by a couple of weird guys, but no one I wanted to show up at a formal with. Mostly I thought about being an actress. I wasn’t conscious of wanting to be a comic actress. I wasn’t really funny or anything, and I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t supposed to be ladylike for a girl to joke. To this day, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what a guy looks like if he’s really funny. His sense of humor makes him attractive. On the other hand, you don’t hear men saying, “No she’s not pretty, but is she ever funny!”
– [on doing voiceover work with Martin Short in ‘Frankenweenie‘] In a live-action film, the focus is on the set and the lighting and everything that’s there. In animation, it’s all right in the headphones. As Marty says, it uses a different set of muscles. In this case, we were given some beautiful illustrations to guide us, and I think we just tried to honor that.
– I think everyone is born funny. Sadly, some lives beat it out of them. I don’t know what allows someone to keep being funny and actually make a career of it. I was encouraged to see the humor in life and have always been around people who think funny, but I know some hilarious people whose sense of humor saved them from their lives.
– I started working in the 1970s, when women’s lib was a daily subject. A lot of what women were fighting for then is a given now. In comedy it has gotten so much better. So many women are creating their own material. If anything, I think more about being older than being a woman in comedy. (2015)
– I think the best dramatic actors know how to tap into their character’s humor. I have more respect for those who take their comedy seriously.