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“It’s Always Sunny” Star Returns to Her Alma Mater

While their luggage never left LAX, Kaitlin Olson ’97 and Rob McElhenney of the hit show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” recently returned to Olson’s alma mater for a question and answer session with UO students. “It’s Always Sunny in Eugene” brought the famous alumna back to campus with her husband, the creator and co-star of FX’s raunchy comedy.

Kaitlin Olson, Chelsea Fullmer, Rob McElhenney

Left to right: Kaitlin Olson, Chelsea Fullmer, Rob McElhenney

Backstage before the Q&A session, Olson recalled her days as a UO student. Olson’s father Donald ’71, who graduated from the UO School of Journalism and Communication and went on to publish the Portland Tribune, was influential in Olson’s decision to come to the UO.

“I also was a very shy kid,” said Olson, who earned her bachelor’s degree in theater arts. “I didn’t really want to leave home but I kind of wanted to, so this was only two hours away. And they had a good theater program so I went with it, and it was a beautiful campus and is a great college.”

While Olson travelled home often to visit her parents, Donald and Melinda, she still had plenty of stories from her student days, including getting her fake ID taken away at Rennie’s Landing and sliding through mud after a first-time rollerblading incident by Villard Hall.

“We were rollerblading and I was going way too fast, just way too fast,” Olson recalled. “And down at the bottom was a building and I was like, ‘I’m going to crash into that so I gotta go over into the grass,’ thinking that the grass would stop me. The grass was mud and I just Supermanned for probably the entire rest of the way down to the building. I’m telling you, when I say covered in mud, like mud, mud everywhere.”

Olson also reminisced about weekends spent at Autzen Stadium—despite the football program not being as successful as it is today—as always a fun time.

After graduation, Olson moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting professionally and spent time at The Groundlings Theatre in Hollywood. She landed recurring roles on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show.” She also had stints on “Punk’d,” “The Jamie Kennedy Experience” and “Out of Practice” before she was cast as Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” in 2005.

Olson and McElhenney – actor, creator, producer, writer and director of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” – got engaged in September 2007 and married a year later. They have two sons, Axel and Leo, who are 3 and 1, respectively. The show, which co-stars Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Danny DeVito, just finished its ninth season on FXX, celebrating its 100th episode Oct. 9.

“We’ve been working together for nine years now, which is crazy, and I think they are some of the smartest, most talented people I’ve ever met in my life, and that’s true,” Olson said. “And I just feel really lucky to have found them because they’re wonderful people. We’re really fortunate that we like each other and that we’re doing something that’s funny and makes us laugh because it’s entertaining and it keeps us going.”

The show has been picked up for a 10th season but is likely to end in 2014. In the meantime, the two stars remain busy as parents and actors and supporters of the university.


— By Chelsea Fullmer, UO Alumni Association


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