The "SNL" alum also revealed how she learned her father was gay.
Molly Shannon is getting candid about the dark times in her life.
While appearing on Tuesday’s episode of SiriusXM’s “The Howard Stern Show,” the actress opened up about the tragic car accident that killed her mother, sister and cousin, and spoke about her relationship with her father, who struggled with alcoholism and was intoxicated while driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.
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“He never really wavered from the story until his death. I did not blame him,” began Shannon, 57, who details the tragedy in her new memoir, “Hello Molly.” “We would talk about it.”
The “Saturday Night Live” alum recalled that her father had been drinking at a party “all day” and “tried” to have someone else get behind the wheel.
“I guess my mom was like, ‘No, you can drive.’ And this is 1968. This is 50 years ago,” Shannon said. “It’s before Mothers Against Drunk Driving. ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.’ We have so much more awareness. … Not that I’m trying to bail him out — I take this very seriously.”
The comedian stressed that she “did not grow up blaming” her father, noting that he “tried his hardest” to raise her and her sister. Shannon said her dad had to “learn to walk again” following the accident and had “braces on his legs.”
“So I admired him. He tried really hard and, Howard, he felt so guilty. He did,” Shannon told Stern. “I think he lived with that when he woke up in the hospital and they said, ‘Your wife has been killed and your baby daughter, Katie … your friend, your niece.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no.’ He sunk into the bed. I mean, I think he lived with that his whole life.”
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“The White Lotus” star went on to reflect on her father’s battle with alcoholism, in addition to how that related to his sexuality.
“He’s an alcoholic, he struggled with that, but then he would try really hard to go to A.A. and be sober for years,” Shannon said of her dad, who passed away from prostate cancer in 2002.
She recalled a particular incident that took place during her final week on “SNL.”
“[It] was such a big deal for me,” Shannon said, recalling how he came to “my apartment [in] my last week, but he was drunk when he showed up. I was so bummed ’cause he really hadn’t been drinking for a long time, been sober for a few years … understand, he wasn’t telling me he had cancer. He was keeping that secret. So he stopped at a bar at the Grand Central Station and met a college boy, a straight college boy and invited that college guy back to my apartment, my little apartment in the village.”
“And so when I walked in the door after rehearsals, my dad was like, ‘Molly, this is Kevin!’ You know, he was drunk,” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘Oh, nice to meet you.’ And I was so mad ’cause it kind of makes you feel like you have to control everything.”
“Then we all went out to dinner … and I was so mad at him,” Shannon added. “This college kid has to see this darkness between me and my dad. It was so embarrassing.”
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The “Divorce” star noted that “normally” her dad would have stayed in her apartment, but she sent him to a hotel. She then called her manager, Steven Levy, and told him what had happened — and was surprised by Levy’s reaction.
“Steven lost his dad when he was a kid and [Steven is] gay and out and … [he] really connected with my dad. They bonded. He was like a father figure to him,” Shannon noted, before recalling that Levy said she was “being too hard” on her dad over him bringing over the college student.
“[He] was like, ‘You don’t understand. He’s given up so much for you girls, so much for you and Mary,'” Shannon said. “And I go, ‘What are you saying? Are you saying he’s gay?’ And he was like, ‘I don’t wanna tell you. He’s gonna tell you.'”
Upon this revelation, the “Enlightened” star said she “couldn’t believe it,” adding, “I felt like ugh so much compassion. Like, kind of the pieces of the story all coming together. It’s tragic.”
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Stern suggested as a “closeted gay man,” Shannon’s father, “probably drank because he was in so much pain.”
“He was under stress. He took this job that was in over his head,” Shannon said in reply. “He was probably drinking more because he was stressed out. He’s gay. He’s keeping that inside. I think he had tried to tell my mom before that he said, ‘I saw this psychiatrist and the psychiatrist told me I’m a latent homosexual’. And she said, ‘Oh, that psychiatrist never should have told you that.’ And so, yeah of course you’re gonna drink. Imagine if you couldn’t be who you were sexually. It’s horrible!”
Shannon went on to recall the day she asked her dad if he was gay.
“I asked him one day at the Four Seasons. We’re sitting by the pool. I invited him out to a press junket for ‘Serendipity’ and … we were having a really good time,” she said. “And I was just like, ‘I’m gonna ask him, I’m gonna ask him.’ ‘Cause Steven Levy kept telling me, ‘He’s gonna tell you, he is gonna tell you.’ But then he wasn’t telling me.”
She added, “So I just one day asked him by the pool: ‘Have you ever thought you might be gay?’ And he just said, ‘Most definitely.’ And he was 72.”
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