O'Donnell, the third of five children, was born and raised in Commack, Long Island, New York. She is the daughter of Roseann Teresa (née Murtha), a homemaker, and Edward Joseph O'Donnell, an electrical engineer who worked in the defense industry. O'Donnell's father had immigrated from County Donegal, Ireland during his childhood, and her mother was Irish American; O'Donnell was raised Catholic. Four days before her 11th birthday, on March 17, 1973, O'Donnell's mother died of breast cancer. While she attended Commack High School, O'Donnell was voted homecoming queen, prom queen, senior class president and class clown. It was during high school that she began exploring her interest in comedy, beginning with a skit performed in front of the school in which she imitated Gilda Radner's character Roseanne Rosannadanna. After graduating in 1980, O'Donnell briefly attended Dickinson College, later transferring to Boston University, before ultimately dropping out of college.
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Famous quotes containing the words life and/or early:
“The exclusive in fashionable life does not see that he excludes himself from enjoyment, in the attempt to appropriate it.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“In the course of twenty crowded years one parts with many illusions. I did not wish to lose the early ones. Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”
—Willa Cather (18731947)