An American character actress of Lebanese heritage who specializes in quirky, theatrical characters, Kathy Najimy won an Obie Award for her off-Broadway performance in1988's “The Kathy and Mo Show,” alongside Mo Gaffney, and later picked up a CableACE Award after reprising the play for the HBO special “The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives” (1991). A year later, Najimy acquired international recognition with her role of Sister Mary Patrick in the box office hit “Sister Act” (1992), for which she took home an American Comedy Award and a MTV Movie nomination. She also received a Saturn nomination for her work in the Disney movie “Hocus Pocus” (1993). However, Najimy's film career experienced a setback after she recreated her role for the 1993 installment “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” Since then, she has acted in primarily small or cameo roles in films like “Jeffrey” (1995), “Nevada” (1997), “Hope Floats” (1998), “Zack and Reba” (1998), “The Wedding Planner” (2001), “Rat Race” (2001), “Say Uncle” (2005) and “Getting Played” (2005).
Najimy has also appeared on the small screen. She delivered a three episode notable turn as an unstable psychiatrist suffering from manic depression on CBS' “Chicago Hope” (1996) and was popular for portraying Olive Massery on the NBC comedy series “Veronica's Closet” from 1997 to 2000. She is also the voice of Peggy Hill on the hit animated television series “King of the Hill” (1997-present), from which she received an Annie Award in 2001.
Outside her work as an actress, Najimy is a feminist and supports human and gay rights. She has used her celebrity status to help raise money for charities and won $50,000 in a celebrity version of “The Weakest Link.” She donated the money to The Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. In addition, she has competed three times on Celebrity Poker Showdown and won the season six tournament, where she donated $100,000 for V-Day, an organization that helps stop violence against women. In CBS' “Gameshow Marathon” in 2006, she was crowned the Grand Champion and won $100,000 for Girls Best Friend, a charity that helps empower girls. Najimy is also outspoken about topics concerning weight and body image issues among women. As a long term AIDS activist, she has supported numerous worthy organizations, including APLA, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign Fund, Project Angel Food, Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, AMFAR, Planned Parenthood, Voters for Choice, and NARAL.
Childhood and Family:
Kathy Ann Najimy was born on February 6, 1957, in San Diego, California, to Lebanese immigrants Samia and Fred Najimy. Her father was a postal worker who died in 1971. She has two sisters, Ramona (born in 1950) and Elaine (born in 1953), and a brother, Thomas Paul (born in 1954). She and her siblings were raised Catholic. Kathy was educated at Crawford High School.
Kathy married comedic actor/singer Dan Finnerty on August 8, 1995. Their daughter, Samia Najimy Finnerty, was born on December 12, 1996.
King of the Hill
Before appearing on TV and in films, Kathy Najimy had accumulated extensive stage experience. She was a member of the feminist theater group Sisters On Stage for five years and soloed in the show “It's My Party.” She also spent four years with the Emmy Award winning New Image Teen Theater and has directed the off-Broadway plays “Don't Get Me Started,” “I Can Put My Fist in My Mouth” and “Back to Bacharach and David.”
In 1988, Najimy performed “The Kathy and Mo Show” off-Broadway, which she co-wrote and co-starred in with Maureen 'Mo' Gaffney. For her outstanding acting, she was handed an Obie Award. Led by the success, she reprised her award winning performance for the HBO comedy special “The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives” in 1991. Najimy and Gaffney jointly nabbed a CableACE award for Best Performance in a Comedy Special.
Najimy made her feature film debut in the movie “The Hard Way” (1991), which starred Michael J. Fox and James Woods. She then had minor roles in the Sally Field vehicle “Soapdish” (1991), Terry Gilliam's “The Fisher King” (1991) and the based-on-novel “This Is My Life” (1992). She did not enjoy international recognition until she was cast in the supporting role of Sister Mary Patrick in the surprise blockbuster hit “Sister Act” (1992), which starred Whoopi Goldberg. The role brought Najimy an American Comedy award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and a nomination at the MTV Movie awards for Best Breakthrough Performance.
After the breakthrough performance, Najimy was hired to star with Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in Disney's comedy “Hocus Pocus” (1993), where she was nominated for a Saturn for Best Supporting Actress. Later that same year, she recreating her coveted role of Sister Mary Patrick for the sequel “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” She then disappeared from the wide screen until “Jeffrey” (1995), in which she had the cameo role of Acolyte, and the independent drama “Nevada” (1997), opposite Amy Brenneman and Kirstie Alley.
When her film career temporarily stalled, Najimy turned to television and starred as Kathy Lane in the Emmy award winning TNT musical special “In Search of Dr. Seuss” (1994). She also again worked with Mo Gaffney in the HBO special “The Kathy and Mo Show: The Dark Side” (1995). In 1996, she offered a memorable recurring role as Barbara 'Bix' Konstadt, a psychiatrist battling manic depression, in three episodes of the CBS popular medical drama “Chicago Hope.” She also made guest appearances in shows like “Clueless” (1996), “Early Edition” (1997) and the hit sitcom “Ellen” (1994-1997).
The next year, Najimy began her long running gig on the Michael Judge animated series “King of the Hill” (Fox, 1997-present), where she provides the voice of Peggy Hill. It was also in 1997 that Najimy landed the regular role of Olive Massery on the NBC sitcom “Veronica's Closet,” which starred her “Nevada” costar Kirstie Alley. She left the show in 2000 to focus on her film career.
Back to the big screen, Najimy appeared with Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr. and Gena Rowlands in the Forest Whitaker directed drama “Hope Floats,” portrayed Mrs. Simpson in the comedy “Zack and Reba,” and appeared in the horror flick “Bride of Chucky” (all 1998). Following a series of TV assignments during 1999, including playing the stepmother of Elmo on Fox’s special “Cinderelmo,” she had a supporting role in the independent film “Attention Shoppers” (2000) and was cast as Sharon Stones' gynecologist in the HBO film “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (also 2000), which was written and directed by Anne Heche. Still in 2000, she also starred as Mae West in the Broadway hit “Dirty Blonde,” from which she earned positive reviews.
Najimy was next seen playing supporting roles in films like the hit “The Wedding Planner” (2001), with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, the ensemble comedy “Rat Race” (2001), “Say Uncle” (2005), opposite Peter Paigi, “Bam Bam and Celeste” (2005), and “Getting Played” (2005). In November 2006, she joined the cast of the CBS crime series “Numbers” in the recurring role of Dr. Mildred French, a role she held until April 2007. In August of 2007, she guest starred as Mrs. Militich in the “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” episode of “First Day of High School.” Her voice was also heard in “Tinker Bell” (2008), which was directed by Bradley Raymond, and other animated shows and films. She was then seen with Kal Penn, Elaine Hendrix, Yunjin Kim and Tamlyn Tomita in the made-for-TV film “Two Sisters” (2008).
Annie: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Television Production, “King of the Hill,” 2001
American Comedy: Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, “Sister Act,” 1993
CableACE: Best Performance in a Comedy Special, “The Kathy & Mo Show: Parallel Lives,” 1993