Mary Katherine Gallagher

Mary Katherine Gallagher

Mary Katherine Gallagher
First appearance Saturday Night Live
Created by Molly Shannon
Portrayed by Molly Shannon
Gender Female
Occupation Catholic schoolgirl
Nationality American

Mary Katherine Gallagher is a fictional character invented and portrayed by Saturday Night Live cast member Molly Shannon from 1995 to 2001. She was considered the first breakout character from the new 1995 cast, and a significant marker of the increased influence of women writers on the show in the 1990s.[1][2][3][4] Shannon portrayed the character in a 1999 film, Superstar, and she also reprised the role when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007.


  • Character 1
  • Superstar 2
  • Episodes featuring Mary Katherine Gallagher 3
  • References 4
  • See also 5


Mary Katherine is a sardonic caricature of an unpopular, teen Catholic school girl. She is prone to comically severe mood swings, alternately hyper-active and ponderous. She suffered from stage fright, but was also hyper-competitive (she once engaged in a sing-off with Whitney Houston) and egomaniacal, believing she was a "superstar".

Lacking in proper social skills, her most famous trademark was that, when nervous, she would put her hands under her armpits and then sniff them. She would demonstrate this habit to most new people she meets. She also had a habit of flashing her underwear either accidentally or on purpose.

The sketches would usually begin with a school-related dramatic arts function, such as choir practice or school play rehearsals. Mary Katherine would run on stage and introduce herself, and then attempt to participate, hogging the spotlight until she would lose her cool and do something socially inappropriate.

At some point, she would usually announce that her feelings would be best expressed by reciting a monologue, sometimes from a film such as West Side Story but more often than not from an obscure TV movie such as The Betty Broderick Story starring Meredith Baxter-Birney. While reciting the monologue, she would usually become overly dramatic and intensely emotional, to the extent to where others around would have to intervene and stop her.

Ultimately, the sketch would usually end with her losing control of herself, such as falling over, crashing into a wall or destroying something. She would then jump up, compose herself, and extend her hands in the air, proclaiming "Superstar!".


In 1999, a feature-length film, entitled Superstar, was released, starring Shannon as Gallagher.[5] Several of her SNL cast mates, including Will Ferrell and Mark McKinney, also appeared in the film.[5]

In the film, Mary Katherine lives with her disabled grandmother (often referred to in the SNL skits but never shown), who believed Mary Katherine bore a very striking resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor. Wanting to attract the attentions of Sky, the most attractive boy in school (played by Will Ferrell), Mary Katherine decides to enter the school talent competition, so that she can make him notice her. Her grandmother, however, prevents her from pursuing her dreams and forbids her to compete. (The reason is later revealed to be that Mary Katherine's parents were stomped to death while taking part in a dance competition).

Episodes featuring Mary Katherine Gallagher


  1. ^ Joe Dziemianowicz, "Uniformity", Entertainment Weekly, May 2, 1997.
  2. ^ Tom Gliatto, "Geek Goddess", People, June 16, 1997.
  3. ^ Gail Shister, "Women take over 'Saturday Night', Knight-Ridder-Tribune News Service in Wilmington Morning Star, August 9, 1997.
  4. ^ Yael Koen, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy (Macmillan Publishing, 2012), ISBN 978-0374287238, pp. 243ff. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Gates, Anita (October 8, 1999). "Superstar (1999) FILM REVIEW; The Things She'll Do For Fame and a Date".  

See also