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Sunday, November 26, 2017 by Bone

By Mark Rhoads

Actor, director, producer, and writer Bonnie Hunt is proud to be an Illinoisan. There is a legend that she has never missed an opening day Cubs game at Wrigley Field since 1977.  No current personality in Hollywood, with the possible exception of film producer John Hughes, has been more loyal to the cause of film production in Illinois and promoting the Chicago region than Bonnie Hunt. 

In 2000, she wrote, directed, and acted in a supporting role in the romantic comedy Return to Me starring Minnie Driver and David Dochovny.  It was filmed on location in her old northwest side neighborhood in Chicago and also starred Jim Belushi, a native of Wheaton, Illinois.  In 2001, she was given an "Outstanding Illinoisan Award" by the 150-year-old Illinois State Society of Washington, DC.

Bonnie Hunt was born on Sept. 22, 1961 in Chicago.  She has three sisters and three brothers.  Bonnie attended parochial grammar schools.  Bonnie attended Notre Dame High School for Girls at 3000 N. Mango Street and graudated in 1979.  She studied nursing and worked after school as a nurse's aide. 

During high school In 1977, she worked part time at the Dairy Queen at 5636 W. Irving Park Road and later worked at a Dog and Suds.  By the early 1980s she was working at what she thought would be her lifelong profession of nursing at Northwestern University Memorial Hospital. But at the same time that Bonnie was working a full schedule as a nurse, she also tried acting in the evening.  In 1984 she founded a three-woman improvisational comedy troupe with Evanston-native Joan Cusack and Holly Wortell.  In 1986, she was working with the Second City Touring Company.

In an April 2000 interview with Alan Silverman of filmbazaar.com, she described her work at Northwestern University Memorial Hospital and her decision to try acting as a profession.

"I was a nurse for five years – two years in the emergency room and three years on the oncology ward. As an oncology nurse all my patients were terminally ill, and they had the greatest sense of humor of any people I've ever known in my life. I used to bring the whole Second City group over to the hospital, and we would do the show right there in the solarium. We'd drag all the beds out and all the patients in the beds. Then the patients started to inspire me. I remember sitting with this patient, Rudy, who had neck cancer and he said, "Bon, you gotta go to California." I said, "God, Rudy, I'm not going to go there and fail and be humiliated and come back. This is my job. I like doing the shows at night. It's a nice hobby." He said, "You have to go and fail. Fail all the time at everything. Go and do it." I thought, "What am I saying to this man who is dying: I'm afraid to fail?" I left two weeks later."

Bonnie's first film with a screen credit was Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in 1988.  She played the role of Sally Dibbs.  That same year she met and married investment banker John Murphy.  Bonnie teamed with her friend David Letterman to produce two TV situation comedies set in Chicago.  Bonnie has appeared in leading roles in many successful movies such as Jumanji with Chicago-native Robbin Williams in 1995, Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise in 1996, The Green Mile with Tom Hanks in 1999, Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin in 2003, and Cheaper by the Dozen II in 2005.  She has also performed character voices for several animated films such as A Bug's Life in 1998.  In 2006, Bonnie played the voice of a Porche by the name of Sally Carrera in the Pixar animated film Cars.  In March 2006, Bonnie filmed the pilot for a possible new TV show on ABC that might start at mid-season in the winter of 2007 if the powers that be approve it.  It is called Crimes and Dating and Bonnie plays a newly-divorced detective in her forties.  If picked up, this would be her fourth TV series and her Illinois fans are rooting for her continued success.

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