At the age of 18, Mary Walsh took a summer job as a radio announcer. Liking the sound of her voice, a theatre director cast her in an amateur play. This led to a paying part with the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre Company, which included Walsh's childhood friend Cathy JONES. The theatre company's short spoof Cod on a Stick was expanded and became the first production of the comedy troupe CODCO, a weekly comedy satire that aired on CBC television from 1986 to 1992.
In 1982, while chair of St John's Resource Centre for the Performing Arts, Mary Walsh directed three successful plays: Terras de Bacalhau, Making Time with the Yanks and We're No Match for No One. In 1988 she wrote Hockey Wives, a drama about NHL players' spouses. She also worked with the Canadian Conference of the Arts and on CBC programs including Up at Ours and The Root Cellar.
Mary Walsh created This Hour Has 22 Minutes in 1994 with Michael Donovan of Salter Street Films. During the show's years on CBC television, she developed as an ardent political satirist, creating broadly defined caricatures to comment on politics, economics, international affairs and societal pressure, especially as it relates to women. The infamous character Marg Delahunty evolved from a bubble-bath matron to a sword-wielding warrior who swooped down on well-known Canadian politicians, making jokes at their expense and amazing the viewing public at what she could get away with on Parliament Hill.
The Atlantic Film Festival awarded Mary Walsh the Best Supporting Actress Award for Secret Nation (1992). In 1993 Walsh was chosen to deliver the prestigious Graham Spry Lecture on national radio. Passionate about the CBC as Canada's distinct radio and TV voice, Walsh is also passionate about her work for Oxfam-Canada and went on a fact-finding mission to Ethiopia in 1994, later poking fun at the United Nations' track record on Third World development.
In 1998 Mary Walsh was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Trent University in Ontario and in 2000 she received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Memorial University in Newfoundland. McGill University gave her an honorary doctorate in 2008. In 2001 she was awarded the ORDER OF CANADA for lifetime achievement in the entertainment industry. As a writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, she has received Canadian Comedy awards, GEMINI AWARDS and accolades from the Writers Guild of Canada.
Mary Walsh has appeared in more than 20 movies, television mini-series and programs. These include Mambo Italiano (2003); Random Passage (2002); Bleacher Bums (2002); The Joke's on Us: 50 Years of CBC Satire (2002); The New Waterford Girl (1999); Rain, Drizzle, Fog (1998); and Extraordinary Visitor (1998).
Mary Walsh's television appearances as herself have included Open Mike with Mike Bullard (1997) and Life and Times: Mary Walsh - Warrior Princess (1996). Mary Walsh: Open Book (2002-03) was a half-hour program where Walsh and her guests discussed a chosen novel each week. In 2005 she created and starred in Hatching, Matching and Dispatching for CBC television. Young Triffie, Walsh's debut as a feature film director, was released in 2007. A comedy set in Newfoundland, the film's cast includes Walsh along with Fred EWANUIK of Corner Gas, Andrea MARTIN, Colin MOCHRIE, Andy JONES, Cathy Jones and Rémy GIRARD. For this production Walsh and co-writer Ed MacDonald shared a Gemini Award for best comedy writing. In 2009 she played Bride, the matriarch of a dysfunctional family of women in Crackie, set in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Life and Times biography series produced Princess Warrior: The Life and Times of Mary Walsh (1999) for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Mary Walsh has appeared in episodes of the TV series Sophie, Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle.
Author JUNE HEYWOOD
Links to Other Sites
Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards
See biographies of recipients of Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Also, check the menu on the left for links to video clips of recipients' speeches. From the website for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation.
A profile of Mary Walsh, Canadian actor, playwright, director, and comedian. From the "Celebrating Women's Achievements" series, Library and Archives Canada.
Comedian Mary Walsh
A profile of Mary Walsh, who received an honorary degree from Trent University for her outstanding contributions to the performing arts in Canada as an actor, writer, director and political satirist. From the website for Trent University.
VIDEO: Love, Loss, And What I Wore
Watch a CBC video from the Toronto production of the stage show "Love, Loss, And What I Wore" featuring Canadian actors, including Andrea Martin, Mary Walsh and Louise Pitre.
Mary Walsh: Wearing her heart on her sleeve
A feature article on how Mary Walsh continues her work as a performer despite struggles with many life challenges. From more.ca.
New-Found Theatre or How I Grew My Antlers
A blog post about Mary Walsh and her energetic devotion to theatre in Toronto. From the Theatre Passe Muraille website.
Mary Walsh on Q TV
View an interview with dynamic performer Mary Walsh on CBC's Q TV.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...