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Arab Americans

Kathy Najimy

Kathy Najimy

Kathy Ann Najimy (born February 6, 1957)[1] is an American actress and comedian of Lebanese heritage, best known as Olive Massery on the television series Veronica’s Closet, Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act, Mary Sanderson in Disney’s Halloween comedy-drama film Hocus Pocus, and the voice of Peggy Hill on the animated television series King of the Hill.

Prior to her film work, she was best known for two Off Broadway shows with Mo Gaffney working as the duo Kathy and Mo. One of the shows became an HBO comedy special and garnered Najimy her first nationwide fan base.

Early life

Najimy was born on February 6, 1957 in San Diego, California, the daughter of Lebanese American parents Samia (néeMassery) and Fred Najimy, a postal worker.[2][3] She was raised Roman Catholic[4] and attended Crawford High School.[5]


Najimy’s film career began in the early 1990s, with a number of off-beat minor roles, but her first major role was in the 1992 comedy Sister Act, in the role of Sister Mary Patrick. She reprised this role in 1993 in Sister Act 2. She also starred in Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson sisters. In 1997, she lent her voice to Warner Bros. Family Entertainment as Tilly the Hippo in the film Cats Don’t Dance, alongside actors Scott BakulaJasmine GuyJohn Rhys-Davies and Don Knotts, and has also played a role on the Nightmare Ned video game. In 1998, she made a cameo in Bride of Chucky as the maid who discovers Diane and Russ’ bodies. In 1999, she played the Stepmother in “CinderElmo” a primetime special for Sesame Street. In 2001, she co-starred in the hit comedy film Rat Race alongside John CleeseRowan AtkinsonCuba Gooding, Jr.Whoopi GoldbergJon Lovitz and Seth Green. She guest starred in That’s So Raven. She has done four movies with Goldberg, (SoapdishSister Act 1 and 2, and Rat Race).

From film, Najimy expanded into television roles, including a dramatic recurring role on Chicago Hope. Najimy was part of the cast of Veronica’s Closet from 1997 to 2000. She co-created and starred in the hit Off Broadway show and HBO specials “Kathy & Mo“, with friend and actress Mo Gaffney. She appeared as Mae West in the Broadway hit Dirty Blonde. She also portrayed Dr. Mildred Finch on Numb3rs. Najimy also provided the voice of the drama teacher, Miss Thespius, in the 1998 Disney show Hercules: The Animated Series.

In 2003, Najimy provided the voice of Margalo in Stuart Little: The Animated Series, taking over from Melanie Griffith. She is the co-creator and director of the musical revue Back to Bacharach and David, which ran in New York City in 1992 and 1993, and which she directed again in Los Angeles in April 2009. She also appeared in Drop Dead Diva. In October 2009, Najimy played a police officer investigating an attack on Wisteria Lane on an episode of Desperate Housewives.[6] In March 2010, she appeared in the Ugly Betty episode “Million Dollar Smile”, portraying Betty’s new orthodontist, Dr. Frankel. In July 2011, Najimy appeared in TNT’s Franklin and Bashepisode “Bangover”, playing a judge.

Other work

Najimy, an outspoken feminist, is also noted as an activist for human rights and gay rights. She uses her celebrity status to donate money to charities by appearing on game shows. She appeared as a contestant on a celebrity version of The Weakest Link where she won $50,000 (beating Anthony Anderson) for The Feminist Majority Foundation‘s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. She has appeared three times on Celebrity Poker Showdown and won the season six tournament, donating the $100,000 to V-Day, an organization that helps stop violence against women and girls. She was also crowned Grand Champion on CBS‘ Gameshow Marathon in 2006, donating the $100,000 winnings to Girls Best Friend, a charity that helps empower girls.[citation needed] She’s also worked with PETA on a number of animal welfare issues and posed with Todd Oldham for the “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign.[7] In 2013, she was a contestant on Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off on Team Rachael where she was playing for PETA, cooking only vegetarian food. She was eliminated on the Feb. 3 episode, reaching third place.[8]PETA awarded her their Compassionate Action Award in 2014.[9]

In 1981, she was a contestant on Family Feud, which was used as the finale in Gameshow Marathon. Najimy and her family were winners on both shows. In the 1981Feud episode they won by 230 points, and in the Marathon version they scored 202 points to give Najimy the win. Najimy also appeared on the $25,000 Pyramid on the episode dated July 31, 1985. She failed to reach the bonus round, but still won a Commodore 64.

Najimy is also very vocal about issues regarding weight and body imaging among females. In August 2006 Najimy voiced her opinions over a remark made by Heidi Klumon the television series Project Runway after Klum said one model’s outfit made her look plus sized.

In 2005, she was chosen by Ms. Magazine as Woman of the Year. She signed the “We Had Abortions” petition which appears in the October 2006 issue of the magazine.[10] The petition contains signatures of over 5,000 women declaring that they had had an abortion and were “unashamed of the choice they made.” Najimy, having determined that she was not in a position to be an adequate parent at the time, had had her own abortion in 1975, at the age of 18, when she had discovered that she was pregnant after she had broken up with the father.[11]

Personal life

Najimy married comedic actor/singer Dan Finnerty on August 8, 1995, and together they have one daughter named Samia born in 1996.[12]


Work Year (Notes) Character
Walls of Glass 1985
Soapdish 1991 Tawny Miller
The Hard Way 1991 Lang’s “Girl Friday”
The Fisher King 1991 A crazed video customer
Sister Act 1992 Sister Mary Patrick
Topsy and Bunker: The Cat Killers 1992 Marge
This Is My Life 1992 Angela (credited as Kathy Ann Najimy)
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit 1993 Sister Mary Patrick
Hocus Pocus 1993 Mary Sanderson
In Search of Dr. Seuss 1994 (TV movie) Kathy Lane
It’s Pat 1994 Tippy
ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter 1995 Dr. Feemus (Attraction now closed)
Jeffrey 1995 Acolyte
Toy Story 1995 Bo Peep (voice)
Rugrats 1996 Ms. Thomas
Veronica’s Closet 1997–2000 (TV) Olive Massery
King of the Hill 1997–2010 (TV) Peggy Hill
Cats Don’t Dance 1997 Tillie Hippo
Shantay 1997 Toyota Carter
Nevada 1997 Ruth
Early Edition 1997 (TV-Series) Season 1 Episode 18 “Psychic”, Psychic
Hercules 1998 (TV, 1 episode) Thespis the Muse
Bride of Chucky 1998 Tabby, Motel Maid
Zack and Reba 1998 Mrs. Simpson
Hope Floats 1998 Toni Post
The Wild Thornberrys 1999 (TV, 1 episode) Ostrich
CinderElmo 1999 (Fox television film) Elmo’s Stepmother
Attention Shoppers 2000 Penelope
If These Walls Could Talk 2 2000 The doctor in the made-for-TV movie’s “2000” segment
Leaving Peoria 2000 Dr. Albright
Little Bill 2000 Mrs. Shapiro
Rat Race 2001 Beverly ‘Bev’ Pear
The Wedding Planner 2001 Geri
Oswald 2002 (TV series) Bingette Bunny
The Scream Team 2002 Mariah
Stuart Little: The Animated Series 2003 (TV series) Margalo
Daddy Goes Sunnyside 2003 Gertie Histon
Wayside 2005 (TV, pilot episode) Mrs. Jewls
Getting Played 2005 Dr. Heidi Z. Klemmer
Balto III: Wings of Change 2005 Dipsy
Say Uncle 2006 Maggie
Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! 2006 Sunny St. Cloud
That’s So Raven 2006 (TV, 1 episode) Lora Stelladora
Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers 2006 Blue Parrot Betty
Numb3rs 2006–2007 (TV series) Dr. Mildred Finch
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody 2007 (TV, 1 episode) Principal
WALL-E 2008 Mary
Tinker Bell 2008 Minister of Summer
Desperate Housewives 2009 (TV, 1 episode) Detective Denise Lapera
Ugly Betty 2010 (TV, 1 episode) Dr. Frankel
American Dad! 2010–present (TV) Barbara “Barb” Hanson
Drop Dead Diva 2010 (TV, 1 episode)
RuPaul’s Drag Race 2010 (TV) Herself (Guest Judge)
Mr. Sunshine 2011 (TV)
Five 2011 (TV)
Make It or Break It 2011–2012 (TV series) Sheila
Men at Work 2012 (TV, 1 episode) Sasha Ryan
How to Fall in Love 2012 Kim
Stars in Shorts 2012 Sid’s Mother
BearCity 2: The Proposal 2012 Rose
The Guilt Trip 2012 Gayle
Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off 2013 (TV) Season 2 Participant—Team Rachael
A Madea Christmas 2013 Kim
The Big C 2013
Inside Amy Schumer 2014 Therapist
Veep 2014 Wendy
Younger 2015 Lauren’s mom
Descendants 2015 The Evil Queen Grimhilde


  1. Jump up^ Anonymous. “Celebrity Birthdays – February 6 » Entertainment », Muskogee, OK”. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  2. Jump up^ “Kathy Najimy Biography (1957-)”. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  3. Jump up^ LEBWA – Lebanese Women’s Awakening[dead link]
  4. Jump up^ Bonavoglia, Angela (November 17, 2011). “Fearless on Abortion”Huffington Post.
  5. Jump up^ “1975 Crawford High Yearbook”
  6. Jump up^ Adam Bryant (30 June 2009). “Kathy Najimy to Guest on Desperate Housewives” Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  7. Jump up^ “in May 2014, she posed in an ad in the San Diego airport bashing the locally favorite Sea World. The ad featured an outdated photograph depicting the actor as much younger than her current age. Naked for a Cause,” 101.9 Fox, accessed 20 September 2012.
  8. Jump up^ Erdos, Joseph (3 February 2013). “Interview With the Latest Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Castoff — A Double Elimination”Food Network. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  9. Jump up^ Madeleine Marr, “Rock the Night Away at Jingle Ball,” The Miami Herald, 10 October 2014.
  10. Jump up^ David Crary (October 3, 2006). “Women Sign “We Had Abortions” Petition”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  11. Jump up^ “Speech given by Kathy Najimy at Planned Parenthood Annual Luncheon, January 17, 2003”. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  12. Jump up^ “Kathy Najimy Official Website”. Retrieved 2014-06-13.