Mary Cynthia Walsh, CM (born May 13, 1952) is a Canadian actress and comedian and social activist. A sufferer of macular degeneration, she has served from time to time as a spokesperson for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Walsh's son Jesse was born in 1989. She has been married to Memorial University of Newfoundland English professor Don Nichol since 2002.
Walsh was born in St. John's, Newfoundland, the daughter of Mary and Leo Walsh, a merchant marine turned fireman on commercial vessels. She is of Irish ancestry. She had a difficult childhood with alcoholic parents. She studied theatre in Toronto at Ryerson University but dropped out to work with the CODCO comedy troupe on a series of stage shows, which eventually evolved into a sketch comedy series.
The CODCO series ran from 1987 to 1992 on CBC Television.
In 1992, she began to work with former co-star Rick Mercer and former CODCO co-stars Cathy Jones and Greg Thomey to create a new television series called This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The show would be a parody of the nightly news and would poke fun at Canadian and international politics. 22 Minutes received strong ratings during its earlier seasons and Walsh's character Marg Delahunty became famous for buttonholing politicians and submitting them to satirical interviews. Usually Marg Delahunty would recite a scripted piece intended to humiliate the politician, often by providing criticism and "grandmotherly" advice. Sometimes Marg appeared as "Marg, Princess Warrior", a parody of the title character of Xena: Warrior Princess portrayed by Lucy Lawless. Walsh is also noted for her comical segment chronicling the Canadian Auto Workers Union's tense blockade of the Volvo Halifax Assembly plant in 1998.
In the mid-1990s she openly admitted to being an alcoholic and that her 22 Minutes co-star and now close friend, Cathy Jones, had helped her seek treatment. She took several months off from 22 Minutes to take part in Alcoholics Anonymous.
She also appeared in the short-run sitcoms Dooley Gardens in 1999 and Hatching, Matching and Dispatching in 2006.
She went on to pursue movie roles and to create the CBC program Mary Walsh: Open Book, a talk show about books and literature, in 2003. In 2004, Walsh hosted a segment on the CBC documentary series The Greatest Canadian, in which she championed the case for Sir Frederick Banting (the Nobel prize-winning discoverer of insulin) as the greatest Canadian who ever lived.
Besides TV acting, she has worked on movies such as Mambo Italiano, Geraldine's Fortune, Rain, Drizzle and Fog, Buried on Sunday, The Divine Ryans, Young Triffie and Violet.
In 2007, Walsh made her feature directorial debut with the 2007 movie Young Triffie. She is the first Newfoundlander in six years to have a film in general release across Canada. She also revived Marg Delahunty for the Royal Canadian Air Farce's 300th episode, filmed in Toronto in March. In June, she hosted the Pride Toronto Gala & Awards ceremony.
On December 15, 2007, Walsh made national news with a story about her upcoming special, Nudity, Sexuality, Violence and Coarse Language, in which a large group of people who went and stripped naked standing next to St. John's Harbour in -11° Celsius (12.2° Fahrenheit) temperature to be filmed as a part of the show's closing. Walsh herself did not go nude.
Walsh had a guest starring role as Miranda Cahill on the January 20, 2010 episode, "Duchess of George", of the CBC television series, Republic of Doyle.
On October 24, 2011, Walsh was once again in the spotlight as she reprised the role of Marg Delahunty conducting an ambush interview of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at his home. Ford's reaction and alleged verbal abuse directed at 911 operator made national headlines.
She won Best Supporting Actress at the Atlantic Film Festival in 1992 for her performance in Mike Jones' Secret Nation.
In 1993, Walsh was chosen to deliver the prestigious Graham Spry lecture which was broadcast nationally on CBC Radio.
In 1994, Walsh addressed the United Nations Global Conference on Development in New York. She has also served as a spokesperson for Oxfam, Canada's human rights campaign.
On November 4, 2006, Walsh and Ed MacDonald picked up a Gemini Award for the best writing in a comedy or variety program for their work in Hatching, Matching and Dispatching
She has won 18 Gemini Awards.
McGill University honoured Walsh with an honorary doctorate during the November 2008 convocation ceremony. Her speech to the class of 2008 focused on political satire.
In 2012, she received a Governor General's Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
Full Name at Birth
Mary Cynthia Walsh
Date of Birth
Actress, Writer, Producer