Who Is Melissa McCarthy?

Melissa McCarthy has made a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s funniest women and has written, starred in, and produced several TV shows and films during her career. A former member of the legendary comedy troupe The Groundlings, she enjoyed a breakout with the role of Sookie St. James on the series Gilmore Girls in the 2000s. After beginning her run on the sitcom Mike & Molly, for which she won an Emmy, she earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Bridesmaids. McCarthy has since headlined other comedic films like The Heat, Tammy, and Spy, and earned another Oscar nomination for her lead role in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Quick Facts

FULL NAME: Melissa Ann McCarthy
BORN: August 26, 1970
BIRTHPLACE: Plainfield, Illinois
SPOUSE: Ben Falcone (2005-present)
CHILDREN: Vivian and Georgette

Early Comedy Career

Born on August 26, 1970, in Plainfield, Illinois, Melissa Ann McCarthy is the daughter of Sandra and Michael McCarthy, Irish-Catholic farmers.

In 1988, McCarthy graduated from St. Francis Academy (now Joliet Catholic Academy) in Joliet, Illinois, and moved to New York to begin her career as a stand-up comedian, appearing at famous clubs such as Stand Up New York and The Improv. While in the city, McCarthy trained at The Actor’s Studio and performed in various stage productions. In the late 1990s, she moved to Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, McCarthy became a member of the legendary improvisation and sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings. McCarthy spent nine years as a main-stage member, making numerous television and film appearances along the way, including her screen debut on cousin Jenny McCarthy’s 1997 variety show. From 2000 to 2003, Melissa McCarthy also had supporting roles in films like The Kid, Charlie’s Angels, and Go.

TV Shows: “Gilmore Girls,” “Mike & Molly,” and More

In 2000, McCarthy landed her breakthrough role on the popular WB show Gilmore Girls, providing a nuanced, fun, and captivating portrayal of supporting character chef Sookie St. James. McCarthy became an integral part of the beloved series, which ran until 2007. Her on-screen friendship with star Lauren Graham translated off the set as well, with Graham checking out her co-star’s Groundling performances.

billy gardell and melissa mccarthy stand behind a couch and rest their hands against the back, gardell looks down and mccarthy looks at him

Mike & Molly costars Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy on the set of the sitcom
Getty Images

From 2007 to 2009, McCarthy played the socially awkward best friend of Christina Applegate in the comedy series Samantha Who? Beginning in 2010, McCarthy played the fourth-grade teacher Molly opposite actor Billy Gardell on the CBS hit sitcom Mike & Molly, a role for which she received the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series—her first. The show aired its final episode in 2016.

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More recently, McCarthy starred in Nine Perfect Strangers, Hulu’s 2021 miniseries adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel of the same name. McCarthy played Frances, a novelist struggling with the rejection of her latest book among other life lessons, alongside the likes of Hollywood heavyweights Nicole Kidman, Michael Shannon, and Bobby Cannavale. In addition to starring, McCarthy also acted as an executive producer on the show.

Movies: “Bridesmaids,” “Tammy,” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

The 2010s saw McCarthy successfully transition into a film actor, starting with the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Bridesmaids. The 2011 Paul Feig–directed film starred fellow former Groundling Kristen Wiig, but McCarthy stole the show as Megan, the assertive, walks-to-her-own-drum sister of the groom. McCarthy was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as a Screen Actor’s Guild Award and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award.

McCarthy continued to show her strong appeal at the box office, with co-star with Sandra Bullock, in the buddy comedy and summer blockbuster The Heat (2013). A mismatched duo, McCarthy plays a rough-around-the-edges Boston cop who teams up with a by-the-book FBI agent, played by Bullock, to take down a drug lord. The film, also directed by Feig, brought in almost $40 million in its first weekend domestically and ultimately grossed around $230 million worldwide.

ben falcone and melissa mcccarthy smile as they stand behind a hollywood star bearing mccarthys name, he wears a light blue suit with a blue checkered shirt, she wears a white and purple floral dress

Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, seen here in 2015 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, have worked together numerous times. The couple has been married since 2005.
Getty Images

The following year McCarthy released her first major project with her husband, Ben Falcone, an actor and writer who also appeared in Bridesmaids. Together, they co-wrote the 2014 comedy Tammy starring McCarthy as the title character, alongside Susan Sarandon. Two years later, McCarthy starred in The Boss, directed by Falcone and written by Falcone, McCarthy, and Steve Mallory. In the comedy, McCarthy plays a businesswoman who has to reinvent herself after going to prison for insider trading. The couple also worked together on Life of the Party, a 2018 comedy once again featuring McCarthy and directed by Falcone.

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McCarthy also continued working with Feig, as lead in the 2015 espionage spoof Spy, with co-stars Jude Law and Rose Byrne, and in the all-female revamp of Ghostbusters in 2016, alongside Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon.

An undeniable comedic talent, McCarthy showed off her dramatic acting abilities in 2018’s critically acclaimed Can You Ever Forgive Me? Based on Lee Israel’s 2008 memoir, the film features McCarthy as a struggling writer who prospers by forging letters from deceased literary greats. For her performance, McCarthy earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. And in 2019, McCarthy joined Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss to play a trio of mob wives who take charge of criminal operations in The Kitchen.

One of McCarthy’s most recent projects is playing the villainous sea witch, Ursula, in the 2023 live-action remake of the Disney classic, The Little Mermaid. McCarthy told USA Today that she had watched The Little Mermaid “hundreds of times” during her tenure as a nanny and that the role was a dream because she felt connected to the character.

Net Worth

McCarthy, now a household name and major Hollywood star, reportedly has a net worth around $90 million for her roles in various film and television productions.

“SNL” Host

melissa mccarthy in character as sean spicer, she is standing in a fake white house briefing room at the podium and speaking, she wears a dark suit with white collared shirt and red tie with blue and white stripes

Melissa McCarthy impersonates Sean Spicer on a May 2017 episode of Saturday Night Live.
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After her success in Bridesmaids, McCarthy became a popular host of Saturday Night Live, known for her impression of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In May 2017, she hosted SNL for the fifth time, joining the show’s Five-Timers Club, which includes Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Candice Bergen, Tom Hanks, Justin Timberlake, Drew Barrymore, Tina Fey, and Scarlett Johansson, among others. McCarthy’s comedy chops were so spot-on that it earned her an Emmy for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2017.

Husband and Kids

McCarthy and her now-husband Ben Falcone first crossed paths as teens in Indiana in 1988 and officially met a decade later when they happened to take the same comedy writing class at The Groundlings theater in Los Angeles. The couple married on October 8, 2005, and had their first daughter, Vivian, on May 5, 2007. (McCarthy’s pregnancy was written into the last season of Gilmore Girls.) Their second daughter, Georgette, was born on March 22, 2010. McCarthy and her family live in Los Angeles.

Clothing Line

In 2015, McCarthy launched Melissa McCarthy Seven7, a clothing line which catered to women of all sizes, ranging from size 4 to 28. McCarthy reportedly told People that the idea stemmed from the desire to “build a better closet.” Since 2018, however, Seven7 has been out of production.

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In 2021, McCarthy appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show with small hand tattoos of various symbols, including an ice cream cone and arrows, causing several viewers to question whether they were real. Although McCarthy shared that she liked the way the tattoos looked, she admitted they were merely temporary henna stickers she’d applied for a role in a Netflix show written by her husband.

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