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Catherine O’Hara: See the Award Winning Actress Through the Years

Did you know that she has an Emmy for writing? Neither did we!

American-Canadian actress Catherine O’Hara has certainly left her mark on the film world. She has starred in films like Beetlejuice, Home Alone 1 and 2Nightmare Before Christmas, Elemental, Argylle and, of course, the beloved sitcom Schitts Creek among many others. 

The star currently holds two Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series when she starred as Moira Rose in Schitts Creekand another for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for her work in the 1980s TV series SCTV (usually shortened from Second City Television). She clearly has left her mark on the industry, which is why we have decided to rewind and take a look back at Catherine O’Hara’s career from its start to now. 

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The early years of Catherine O’Hara

Catherine O'Hara in 1981 (age 27)
Catherine O’Hara in 1981 (age 27)

Born on March 4, 1954, in Toronto, Ontario, O’Hara was the sixth of seven children. Twenty years later, she joined The Second City, an improv group with chapters in Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles. It was there that she began to create the show SCTV, or Second City Television Network. 

It ran for three seasons before going off the air in 1981 in Canada. From there, it switched to NBC in the United States and ran from 1981 to 1984, starring Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas and Eugene Levy, with whom O’Hara also starred alongside with in Schitts Creek

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Catherine O'Hara at age 32 (1986)
Catherine O’Hara at age 32 (1986)Bonnie Schiffman Photography / Contributor/Getty

During that time, though, O’Hara was approached to be on Saturday Night Live and even went to work there for a short time before going back to SCTV. 

“Our producer [for SCTV] would get a deal with a network, and we’d have a show for a season or two, and then that deal would go away. There’d be a break, then we’d do the show again,” Catherine O’Hara told People. “[Then] I got asked to be on Saturday Night Live. And, of course, I said yes. Who doesn’t want to do that?”

However, once SCTV was picked up by NBC, she left SNL and returned to her roots. “Basically, I said, ‘Oh, sorry, I gotta go be with my [comedy] family.'”

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Beetlejuice and Catherine O’Hara

Catherine O'Hara (age 34) and Geena Davis in Beetlejuice (1988)
Catherine O’Hara (age 34) and Geena Davis in Beetlejuice (1988) Bros

After leaving SCTV, she went on to star in a few smaller projects, such as TV movies and episodes of shows like The New School. Then, in 1988, she was cast as Delia in Beetlejuice.  

The spooky movie follows Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) after they die and get stuck haunting their old house and its new residents — The Deetze family (O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Winona Ryder). Soon, they attract the attention of an unreliable spirit named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton).  The sequel to the hit movie will be released in theaters on September 6, 2024. 

It was really fun,” O’Hara exclaimed. of the film. “And doing this last Beetlejuice was really fun, too. I know [diector Tim Burton] really wanted to get that feeling back on a set, and he got it.”

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The Home Alones 

The actress in Home Alone (1990)
Catherine O’Hara at age 36 in Home Alone (1990) Century Studios

Post Beetlejuice, the actress starred in a few smaller things before booking the Christmas classic Home Alone in 1990, where she played Kevin’s (Macaulay Culkin) mother, Kate, who travels from Paris to Illinois after she realizes her son wasn’t with them on their family vacation. A massive success, in 1992 she returned to the franchise to star in the sequel Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.

When talking about the films, O’Hara said, “All those kids that played our children were just lovely. [And director] Chris Columbus, lovely man,” she remembers. “He’s a family guy himself. I think he had like five kids already at the time. And [screenwriter] John Hughes wasn’t there a lot, but wrote such a beautiful script, obviously. It’s a perfect movie, isn’t it?” 

Catherine O’Hara in the 2000s 

The actress at 51
Catherine O’Hara at age 51 (2005) Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/Getty

After wrapping up filming on Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, Catherine O’Hara kept busy starring in films like Best in Show. However, she also lent her vocal talents to cartoons like Chicken Little, Over The Hedge, Monster House, Barbie in the 12 Dancing PrincessesWhere the Wild Things Are and Frankenweenie

The actress at age 56 (2010)
Catherine O’Hara at age 56 (2010) Amy Sussman / Stringer/Getty

Schitts Creek 

Perhaps one of her most well-known and iconic roles, though, came in 2015 when O’Hara was cast as the hilarious and eccentric Moira Rose — wife of Jonny Rose (Eugene Levy) and mother to socialite Alexis Rose (Annie Murphy) and the dramatic David Rose (Dan Levy) — on Schitts Creek. This role won her a second Emmy in 2020. 

The actress at age 61 in Schitt's Creek (2015)
Catherine O’Hara at age 61 in Schitt’s Creek (2015)

“It’s such a gift to work with people with whom you can collaborate. They wrote such great scripts and it was just so fun and so lovely,” O’Hara said about the show. “It was the scripts, the idea of working with Eugene and Daniel, and then to have such a lovely experience with all of them.” 

She also recently praised her co-star Eugene, as he just earned a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

The actress and Eugene Levy side by side
Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara in 2004 and 2024 Carlo Allegri / Staff/Getty; Eric Charbonneau / Contributor/Getty

Eugene is a gentleman in every sense of the word. Eugene takes his comedy very seriously,” she said. “He’s obviously funny, but he’s not afraid to laugh at himself. In fact, most of his self-effacing jokes are aimed at the fact that he thinks he’s not funny at all, which is ridiculous.”

Catherine O’Hara’s most recent work 

The actress at age 70 in Argylle (2024)
Catherine O’Hara at age 70 in Argylle (2024) Pictures

After Schitts Creek, O’Hara appeared in huge blockbuster films like Disney’s Elemental, Netflix’s The Last Kids on Earth and, most recently, the action-packed spy film Argylle starring Henry Cavill. 

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In the upcoming years, she will star in season two of The Last of Us and the Beetlejuice sequel, appropriately titled Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. 

Catherine O’Hara’s personal life 

Catherine O'Hara and Bo Welch in 2024
Catherine O’Hara and Bo Welch in 2024 Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/Getty

The actress has been just as successful personally as she has been professionally. She has been married to production designer Bo Welch since 1992, and the pair has two sons together. 

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