The Bonnie Hunt Show
Bonnie Hunt is an Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actress, comedienne, writer, television host and film director. She gained her nominations for her portrayal of Bonnie Mollow on the ABC sitcom “Life With Bonnie” (2002-2004), in which she earned additional nominations at the Satellite and Television Critics Association Awards. More recently, the former member of Chicago's Second City Troupe hosted the syndicated daytime show “The Bonnie Hunt Show” (2008-2010). First gaining attention as Carol Anne Smithson on the short lived “Grand” (NBC, 1990), Hunt returned to the small screen with “Davis Rules” (1991-1992), where she played Jonathan Winters' daughter. She then briefly appeared in the sitcom “The Building” (CBS, 1993), her first producing partnership with David Letterman. The two worked together again on the critically praised sitcom “Bonnie” (formerly known as “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” CBS, 1995-1996), from which she nabbed the Founder's Award from the Viewers for Quality Television Awards. Hunt also created and executive produced “The Building,” “Bonnie” and “Life with Bonnie” and wrote and executive produced “The Bonnie Hunt Show.” On the big screen, Hunt, who made her debut in 1988's “Rain Man,” has alternated between supporting and lead roles. Her motion picture credits include “Beethoven” (1992), “Beethoven's 2nd” (1993), “Dave” (1993), “Jumanji” (1995), “Jerry Maguire” (1996), “The Green Mile” (1999), “Cheaper by the Dozen” (2003), “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” (2005), “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With” (2006) and “Hurricane Season” (2009). She also contributed to the script of the animated film “Cars” (2006), where she voiced the character Sally. Her voice can also be heard in “A Bug's Life” (1998, as Rosie), “Monsters, Inc.” (2001, as Flint) and “Toy Story 3” (2010, as Dolly). Hunt made her directorial debut with the film “Return to Me” (2000, also co-wrote and acted in).
Childhood and Family:
Bonnie Lynn Hunt was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 22, 1961. The sixth of seven children born to Bob Hunt, an electrician of Irish extraction, and Alice, a homemaker of Polish lineage, she has three older brothers named Kevin, Tom and Patrick and two older sisters named Cathy and Carol. She also has a younger sister named Mary.
Bonnie was educated at St. Ferdinand Grammar School and Notre Dame High School for Girls in Chicago, from which she earned a degree in nursing. After graduating and at the request of her father, who died while she was in nursing school, Bonnie pursued a nursing career and landed a job as an oncology and emergency room nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, although she originally wanted to become a professional actor. She eventually shifted gears to acting and began studying at the Second City Improvisational Theater.
On July 8, 1988, Bonnie married investment banker John Murphy. The couple divorced in 2008.
While working as a nurse in Chicago, Bonnie Hunt took small roles in plays and started her comedy training at The Second City. In 1984, at age 23, she co-founded the improvisational group An Impulsive Thing with John Gripentrog, Holly Wortell and Andy Miller. By 1986, she had performed as a member of the world renowned comedy troupe The Second City in productions like “Jean Paul Sartre and Ringo,” “Bright Lights, Night Baseball” and “How Green Were My Values.”
Hunt made her feature acting debut in the Barry Levinson critically acclaimed successful drama “Rain Man” (1988), starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. In the movie, she played a waitress named Sally Dibbs. Hunt took three days off from her nursing job to film her part. Shortly after, Hunt relocated to Los Angeles and helped establish the Los Angeles branch of Second City in 1989. She left the troupe after two months, but within a few days was offered a regular gig on the NBC sitcom “Grand” (1990). In her TV series debut, she costarred as Carol Anne Smithson, opposite Michael McKean as Tom Smithson. After the cancellation of the show, she declined a bigger role on CBS' “Designing Women,” but instead chose to join Randy Quaid and Jonathan Winters in the ABC sitcom “Davis Rules” when it was revised by CBS for a second season in 1992. The show, however, was axed after 16 episodes.
Hunt landed her first lead role in “Beethoven” (1992), a well received family comedy directed by Brian Levant. In the movie, she played Alice, the tormented wife of Charles Grodin. She would reprise her role of Alice Newton in the sequel “Beethoven's 2nd” (1993), which was directed by Rod Daniel. Also in 1993, she delivered a hilarious cameo performance as a White House tour guide in Ivan Reitman's comedy “Dave” (starred Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver) and worked with Jason Alexander, Steve Allen and Scott Bakula in the 29 minute short “For Goodness Sake.”
In September 1993, Hunt made her first appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman” and befriended the talk show host, who was captivated by her humorous stories. From then on, she was frequently invited to appear on the show. Her friendship with Letterman also spawned the short lived sitcom “The Building,” which she created, starred in, wrote and co-executive produced (with Letterman). Premiering on August 20, 1993, on CBS, the show was soon canceled.
In 1994, Hunt was cast as Kate Corvatch, Marisa Tomei's sister-in-law and best friend, in Norman Jewison's “Only You,” which starred Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. She followed it up with the supporting roles in the box office hit “Now and Then” (1995) and the Robin Williams blockbuster vehicle “Jumanji” (1995), which was adapted from the popular 1981 short story of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. Her later role brought the actress a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress from the 1996 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. She then co-starred with Dan Aykroyd, Jack Lemmon and Lily Tomlin in Harvey Miller's “Getting Away with Murder” and worked with Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe's “Jerry Maguire” (both 1996).
Hunt revisited television when she created, wrote and co-executive produced (again with Tetterman) the critically acclaimed sitcom “Bonnie” (CBS, 1995-1996). Despite being praised by critics, the show was canceled after 11 episodes. Bonnie, who starred as Bonnie Kelly in the show, was nominated for a Q Award in the category of Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series at the 1996 Viewers for Quality Television Awards, where she won the Founder's Award.
In 1997, Hunt signed on to direct the film “Convenience,” but the project was eventually postponed. The same year, she starred as Fern McDermott in “Fern's Heart of Darkness,” a segment of HBO's “Subway Stories: Tales From the Underground.” The next two years saw her support David Schwimmer, Jason Lee and Mili Avital in Doug Ellin's feature “Kissing a Fool” (1998), provide the voice of Rosie in the popular animated film “A Bug's Life” (1998), play Wendy Judd in the big screen adaptation of Warren Adler's “Random Hearts” (1999) and co-star as Tom Hanks' wife in Frank Darabont's “The Green Mile” (1999), based on the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. She earned a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination for Favorite Supporting Actress - Drama and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture for her work in the latter film.
Entering the new millennium, Hunt made her debut as a director and screenwriter for “Return to Me” (2000), a romantic comedy starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. She was handed the Epiphany Prize for Best Film at the 2001 MovieGuide Awards for her work in the film. She also had a supporting role in the project. She next contributed vocals to “Monsters, Inc.” (2001, as Flint), costarred with Adiel Stein, Aidan Quinn and Kevin Pollak in Pete Jones' “Stolen Summer” (2002, as Margaret O'Malley) and portrayed the matriarch of twelve kids, Kate Baker, in the box office hit “Cheaper by Dozen” (2003), opposite Steve Martin.
After “Bonnie,” Hunt returned to the small screen with “Life With Bonnie” (ABC, 2002-2004), which she created with friend and longtime writing partner Don Lake. Outlining the life of Bonnie Mollow (played by Hunt), the sitcom debuted to average ratings but was later cancelled. For her performance, Hunt was nominated for a 2004 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Golden Globes in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy (2003 and 2004). She also received Golden Satellite nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical and a Television Critics Association nomination for Individual Achievement in Comedy. She also directed several episodes of the show.
After “Life With Bonnie” went off the air, Hunt portrayed Grace Bellamy in the indie film “Loggerheads,” opposite Kip Pardue, Michael Kelly, Tess Harper and Adrian Lee, and reprised the role of Kate Baker in the sequel “Cheaper by Dozen 2” (both 2005). In 2006, she portrayed Stella Lewis in “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese with,” the feature directorial debut of Jeff Garlin, appeared in Jim Fitzpatrick's “The Last Guy on Earth” and wrote, executive produced and directed the pilot “Let Go.” The same year, she contributed screenplay material to the box office hit animated comedy film “Cars,” in which she also provided the voice of Sally Carrera.
In 2008, Hunt began headlining her own talk show series, “The Bonnie Hunt Show” (syndicated, NBC), which she also wrote and executive produced. In the first season, “The Bonnie Hunt Show” was nominated for Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling, Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Design and Outstanding Achievement in Makeup and won a Gracie Allen for Outstanding Talk Show. The show returned for a second season on September 8, 2009, and again received three Daytime Emmy nominations, including one for Best Talk Show Host. In December 2009, it was announced that the show would not be renewed for a third season and the final episode aired on May 26, 2010.
In 2009, Hunt returned to acting when she appeared in Kevin G. Schmidt's “The Alyson Stoner Project” and played the principal in Tim Story's “Hurricane Season,” opposite Forest Whitaker, Taraji P. Henson, Bow Wow and Isaiah Washington. Recently, in 2010, she could be heard as Dolly in the animated film “Toy Story 3” and Gabe's mom in an episode of the HBO comedy animated TV series “The Life & Times of Tim.”
Chicago Film Critics Association: Commitment to Chicago Award, 2001
MovieGuide: Epiphany Prize, Best Film, “Return to Me,” 2001
Viewers for Quality Television: Founder's Award, “Bonnie,” 1996
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn Award, Best Supporting Actress, “Jumanji,” 1996