|Catherine O'Hara (Reuters file photo)
LOS ANGELES -- A dressed-down Catherine O'Hara casually sauntered out of a middle-of-the-road Hollywood restaurant on the balmy evening of Sept. 28 with a couple of friends, thinking the probability of her being recognized was slim.
The 58-year-old Canadian actress was make-up free and her long hair was in need of brushing, just like any woman would look after a long day of work. She wore a flack jacket.
Besides, how long has it been since she's had a big screen role, anyway?
"OH MY GOD!" screamed a young man from a group randomly walking by. The fans surrounded O'Hara and her friends as they stood on the sidewalk, waiting for the valet to bring their car.
"She's from Home Alone!" said one.
"Oh yeah," chimed another. "She's a great comedian. It's "¦ it's Catherine O'Hara!"
O'Hara took it in stride when she was mobbed and quickly tried to fix her hair.
"OK, you got me!" She burst into her signature infectious laugh and graciously posed as the group snapped cellphone photos of her.
The surprise scrum of screaming fans -- and the fact someone took a video of the scene and uploaded it to the web -- is a clear indication that SCTV alum Catherine O'Hara is still on Hollywood's radar.
O'Hara has always been a big star. She was especially huge in the 1990s and, in total, appeared in 35 films including Beetlejuice and Home Alone.
During the past decade, however, she's become more known for her comic voice work than onscreen scenes.
For instance, in this month's Frankenweenie, Tim Burton's comedy/horror animated flick, O'Hara voices Mrs. Frankenstein, the mother of the creature invented by gothic writer Mary Shelley. Old Toronto pal and fellow SCTV alum Martin Short voices Mr. Frankenstein, O'Hara's onscreen husband.
"This is the nicest mom I think I've played," O'Hara said during press interviews after a screening last week.
In Beetlejuice, the funny lady played the social climbing mother Delia Deetz, who drives daughter Winona Ryder nuts. O'Hara and Ryder are paired again in Frankenweenie, but Ryder plays a next-door neighbour.
Of course, O'Hara's most famous mother role was as the forgetful Katie McCallister, who haplessly leaves youngest son Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) alone during Christmas vacation in the wildly popular Home Alone comedies.
Perhaps more interesting than the Tim Burton flick, at least to me, is the news that the For Your Consideration actress is pairing up with the mighty Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame on the TV comedy series, 30 Rock.
More interesting because we'll not only hear her voice in character, but we'll all be able to feast our eyes on her baby blue Irish eyes and crack-up expressions.
In an episode to air this fall, O'Hara will play Kenneth's mother (naturally!) and Cranston will play her boyfriend, 30 Rock creator Tina Fey announced last month.
Kenneth is the earnest page at the Peacock network and O'Hara is slotted to play a back-country mama, who will fill in the blanks of Kenneth's obsessive-compulsive personality, according to NBC insiders.
O'Hara and the Emmy Award-winning Cranston playing a couple? Ha, ha! Now, that sounds better than an episode of Saturday Night Live!