Nora Dunn

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Nora Dunn
Nora Eloise Dunn

(1952-04-29) April 29, 1952 (age 69)
OccupationActress, comedian
Years active1985–present
Ray Hutcherson
(m. 1987; div. 1995)

Sean McGarry
(m. 1998; div. 2000)

Nora Eloise Dunn (born April 29, 1952) is an American actress and comedian. She was a cast member on the NBC sketch variety TV series Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1990.

Early life[edit]

Dunn was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Margaret (née East), a nurse, and John Dunn, a musician and poet.[1] Her brother is actor Kevin Dunn. She was raised in a Catholic family, and has Irish, English, Scottish, and German ancestry.[1] Dunn attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1970 to 1972, San Francisco City College, and the Academy of Fine Arts.[citation needed]


Saturday Night Live[edit]

Dunn joined SNL in 1985 with the return of Lorne Michaels as executive producer. The 1985–1986 season proved to be a ratings disaster, and she was one of only five cast members who was not fired at its end (the others were newcomers Jon Lovitz, A. Whitney Brown, Dennis Miller and longtime featured player Al Franken).

Dunn's characters included half of "The Sweeney Sisters" lounge act alongside Jan Hooks, as well as talk show host Pat Stevens (which became a popular recurring role starting in the low-rated 1985–1986 season), melodramatic French hooker Babette, and film buff Ashley Ashley from the "Actors on Film" sketch from the 1985–1986 season. Her impressions included Ann Landers, Imelda Marcos, Liza Minnelli, Tyne Daly, Joan Baez, Martina Navratilova, and Cokie Roberts.

Dunn made headlines in 1990 when she, along with original musical guest Sinéad O'Connor, boycotted an episode which was hosted by comedian Andrew Dice Clay because they found his misogynistic humor offensive. Looking back on the incident ahead of SNL's 40th anniversary, she explained, "Lorne said, 'Andrew Dice Clay was a phenomenon worth examining.' And yeah, he was a phenomenon, but if you’re going to examine him, he shouldn’t be the host, you should write an article. We didn’t examine the hosts of "SNL." We supported them, we wrote for them, and we made them look good. Otherwise you’d never get a host. You’re there to make them look good […] My objection to Andrew Dice Clay was that his character was only about one thing: abusing women and laughing about abusing women. There was nothing else behind it. There was nothing else about it except to make him look harmless."[2]

Recurring characters on SNL[edit]

  • Ashley Ashley, a pretentious film critic from the recurring sketch, "Actors on Film" (her partner was Jimmy Chance, played by Robert Downey, Jr.)
  • Babette, a melodramatic French prostitute
  • Pat Stevens, a model turned talk show host
  • Denise Venetti, host of "Learning To Feel"
  • Dr. Norma Hoeffering, a lesbian psychiatrist who writes male-bashing self-help books
  • Liz Sweeney, one of two singing sisters (the other played by Jan Hooks)
  • Loose Chang, Ching Chang's (Dana Carvey) love interest
  • Mrs. Campbell, Wayne Campbell's (Mike Myers) mom

Celebrity impersonations[edit]

Other work[edit]

Dunn appeared in recurring roles on Sisters from 1993–1996 and The Nanny from 1998–1999, as well as a guest-starring role in a two-part episode of The X-Files in 1998. She appeared on LOL in 2012. In the 8th episode of the 9th season of crime procedural drama Bones, she played author Tess Brown, a feuding rival of protagonist Temperance Brennan. In 2015 she appeared in the fourth season of New Girl. In 2009 Dunn played the sister-in-law of Frank Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Her film work includes Working Girl (1988), How I Got into College (1989), Miami Blues (1990), I Love Trouble (1994), Shake, Rattle and Rock! (1994), Three Kings (1999), What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001), Zoolander (2001), Max Keeble's Big Move (2001), Bruce Almighty (2003), Runaway Jury (2003), The Hebrew Hammer (2003), Love for Rent (2005), Pineapple Express (2008), My Suicide (2009), Entourage (2015) and The Lost Husband (2020)

In 2014, Dunn began appearing in a series of commercials for Clorox. She has also been a storytelling contributor to Chicago's Under the Gun Theater.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Dunn married Ray Hutcherson, a playwright, in September 1987. The couple divorced in 1995. In 1998 Dunn married Sean McGarry, a set builder.[citation needed] The couple divorced in 2000.[4] She does not have any children.

She is an avid fan of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League.[5]



Year Title Role Notes
1985-1990 Saturday Night Live Herself/Various 88 episodes
1991 Get a Life Irma Episode: "Prisoner of Love"
1992 Civil Wars Madeline Lobell Episode: "The Old Man and the 'C'"
1993 Basic Values: Sex, Shock & Censorship in the 90's TV movie
1993-1996 Sisters Norma Lear 24 episodes
1994 Shake, Rattle and Rock! Margo TV movie
1996 The Nanny Mrs. Richardson Episode: "The Bird's Nest"
1997 I Am Weasel Bearded Girl/Lady Fan #1 Voice role

Episode: "Deep Sea Tour"

1997 Cybill Dr. Walker Episode: "Regarding Henry"
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Lilith Voice role

Episode: "A Temporary Insanity"

1997 Everybody Loves Raymond Helen Episode: "The Letter"
1998 George and Leo Dean Shirley Martin Episode: "The Bongos"
1998 Pinky and the Brain Precious Episode: "Brainwashed: Part 3 - Wash Harder"
1998 The X-Files JoAnne Fletcher 2 episodes
1998-1999 The Nanny Dr. Reynolds 7 episodes
1998-2000 Histeria! Lydia Karaoke/Various 26 episodes
1999 The Wild Thornberrys Various Voice role

2 episodes

2000 Chicken Soup for the Soul Mrs. Shaw Episode: "The Mustang and the Tutor"
2000 Futurama Morgan Proctor Episode: "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back"
2001 The Chronicle Dr. Gorham Episode: "Only the Young Die Good"
2001 Weakest Link Herself Contestant

Episodes: "Comedians Special"

2001 Curb Your Enthusiasm CBS Executive Episode: "The Massage"
2002 The Outer Limits Laura Sinclair Episode: "Dark Child"
2003 Knee High P.I. Margery TV movie
2003 Just Shoot Me! Naomi Episode: "Strange Bedfellows"
2003 CSI: Miami Kidnap Executive Rhonda Episode: "Extreme"
2004 Wild Card Sammie Episode: "Slam Dunk Funk"
2005 See Arnold Run Arianna Huffington TV movie
2005 LAX Episode: "Senator's Daughter"
2005 Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution Gloria Allred TV movie
2005 Stacked Lynn Episode: "Heavy Meddle"
2006 Law & Order Rosalie Schaffner Episode: "Home Sweet"
2006 Three Moons Over Milford Michelle Graybar 9 episodes
2006-2007 Shark Gretchen Curbow 2 episodes
2006-2011 Entourage Dr. Marcus 6 episodes
2007-2008 Boston Legal Attorney Cynthia Rhodes 2 episodes
2008 Aliens in America Sandy Shermer Episode: "Smutty Books"
2008 Numbers Susan Stone Episode: "Jack of All Trades"
2009 Criminal Minds Lauren Episode: "Pleasure Is My Business"
2009 Pushing Daisies Blanche Ramora Episode: "Kerpulnk'"
2009 Samantha Who? Cheryl Hainstock Episode: "The Dream Job"
2009 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Donna Episode: "The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention"
2009 As Told by Ginger Coach Candace/Philbert Voice role

2 episodes

2010 Private Practice Dr. Geraldine Ginsberg Episode: "Eyes Wide Open"
2010 Psych Eve Asher Episode: "In Plain Fright"
2010 The Defenders Amber Max Episode: "Nevada v. Dennis"
2011 Harry's Law Judge Sandra Killiam Episode: "Last Dance"
2012 Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 Joyce Berman Episode: "Parent Trap"
2013 The Neighbors Linda Episode: "The Gingerbread Man"
2013 Franklin & Bash Judge Clemons Episode: "By the Numbers"
2013-2014 Bones Tess Brown 2 episodes
2014 Hot in Cleveland Elizabeth/Victoria Episode: "Playmates"
2014 Mulaney Patty Mulaney Episode: "In the Name of the Mother, and the Son and the Holy Andre"
2014-2015 Sirens Bridget 2 episodes
2015 Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce Amanda Episode: "Rule #3: Don't Stand in the Doorway"
2015-2016 Best Friends Whenever Janet Smythe 6 episodes
2015-2016 New Girl Louise 4 episodes
2016 Life in Pieces Carol Episode: "CryTunes Divorce Tablet Ring"
2016 *Loosely Exactly Nicole Nora McNab Episode: "Danny Boom"
2016 Grace and Frankie Dr. Rossmore Episode: "The Wish"
2016-2017 Chicago Med Dr. Richardson 3 episodes
2016-2017 Graves Laura Wolf 2 episodes
2017 2 Broke Girls Teresa 2 episodes
2017 Chicago P.D. Dr. Richardson Episode: "Army of One"
2017 Worst Cooks in America Herself Contestant - Third Place
2017-2019 How to Get Away with Murder Judge Lily Nanjani 2 episodes
2018 The Librarians Janet Hedge Episode: "And a Town Called Feud"
2018 Detroiters Sue Episode: "Trevor"
2018 The Boss Baby: Back in Business Gigi Voice role

10 episodes

2019 Liza on Demand Claudine Episode: "Maximum Occupancy"
2021 Home Economics Muriel 3 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Working Girl Ginny
1989 How I Got Into College Francine Bauer
1990 Miami Blues Ellita Sanchez
1991 Stepping Out Pam
1992 Passion Fish Ti-Marie
1993 Born Yesterday Cynthia Screiber
1994 I Love Trouble Lindy
1995 The Last Supper Sheriff Alice Stanley
1998 Bulworth Missy Berliner
1998 Air Bud: Golden Receiver Natalya
1998 The Thin Pink Line Sandy Delongpre
1999 Drop Dead Gorgeous Colleen Douglas
1999 Three Kings Adriana Cruz
2000 What Planet Are You From? Madeline
2001 Heartbreakers Miss Madress
2001 What's the Worst That Could Happen? Lutetia Fairbanks
2001 Zoolander British Designer
2001 Max Keeble's Big Move Lily Keeble
2002 Cherish Bell
2002 Storm Watch Rose Chase
2003 Die, Mommie, Die! Shatzi Van Allen
2003 The Hebrew Hammer Mrs. Carver
2003 Bruce Almighty Ally Loman
2003 Out of Time Dr. Donovan
2003 Runaway Jury Stella Hulic
2004 November Dr. Fayn
2004 Paper Cut Katherine
2004 Laws of Attraction Judge Abramovitz
2005 The Civilization of Maxwell Bright Mary Jane
2005 Love for Rent Helen Bauman
2005 The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Girl Group Member
2006 The Darwin Awards Mrs. Pearlman
2006 Pucked Leona
2006 Southland Tales Cyndi Pinziki
2008 Pineapple Express Shannon
2009 The Answer Man Terry Fraser
2009 Archie's Final Project Gretchen Williams
2009 It's Complicated Sally
2012 LOL Emily's Mom
2012 3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom Mom (Karen)
2012 The Guilt Trip Amy
2015 Entourage Dr. Marcus
2015 A Light Beneath Their Feet Dr. Krolly
2018 Dude Rosa
2018 Canal Street Marge Sudermill
2018 Tag Lina Malloy
2018 The Oath Eleanor
2019 Boy Genius Selma Ally
2020 The Lost Husband Jean
2021 Together Together Adele


  1. ^ a b Davenport, Misha (April 11, 2008). "Artwork no laughing matter to Nora Dunn". Chicago Sun-Times.
  2. ^ Bolonik, Kera (April 8, 2015). "Nora Dunn: "SNL is a traumatic experience. It's something you have to survive"". Salon. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  3. ^ Helbig, Jack (December 19, 2015). "Based on a True Story". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  4. ^ "Nora Dunn Vs Sean Mcgarry". UniCourt. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  5. ^ Bolonik, Kera (April 8, 2015). "Nora Dunn: "SNL is a traumatic experience. It's something you have to survive"". Salon. Retrieved 2021-02-05.

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