For much of the series, she is a multi-millionairess thanks to her marriage to Stanley Walker. Although Karen was originally conceived as a supporting character role, her escapades became a more prominent part of the show based on positive viewer reaction.
Karen was born on January 12. Although she tries to keep her age secret, Jack McFarland reveals that she is 42 in 2001, meaning she was, in fact born in 1959. Karen's childhood was a rocky road thanks in part to her unstable relationship with her mother, Lois Whitley, a con artist who incorporated her young daughter into her schemes, including one where Karen became a notary public.
On her eighth birthday, her mother changed her name and moved them Vancouver ("I Second That Emotion"). She sends her mother a check once a month to keep her from bothering her new life ("Something Borrowed, Someone's Due") and until the fourth season, she has been telling people that she had her mother committed to a mental facility against her will ("Love Plus One"). She has also mentioned that the only person she has apologized to was her mother, as ordered by the court ("Fear and Clothing").
Due to her family moving around a lot, Karen never got close to any of her friends. However, Karen's sister Virginia says that she was popular, easy-going, and all the boys loved her, though Karen was also jealous of Virginia being their father's favorite ("Whatever Happened To Baby Gin?").
In 1963, Karen purposely injured Virginia during a game of Twister on "a rickety old saw mill that juts out over the falls". Karen has been supporting her ever since the incident. Years later, Virginia admits that she also planned on injuring Karen that same day though unsuccessfully. They both realized they were jealous of each other and decide to move past it.
Karen revealed in "Will Works Out" that she lost her virginity to a professor at school who gave her an A+ and an exemption to write a term paper.
Karen is implied to have been an actress in her younger years. She mentions playing a bank teller in an episode of Mama's Family (where her scenes were cut out) ("East Side Story") and being in a two-episode arc of Dynasty acting with Diahann Carroll ("Speechless").
At some point before she got married, she appeared in the fetishistic film Next to Godliness as a dominatrix flick wearing a rubber dress ("To Serve and Disinfect"). Between her first and second marriages, she backpacked through Japan, Vietnam, and Bhutan. While worshiping at the Golden Temple in Kyoto, she was discovered by a commercial director and became the face of energy drink Atooshi Kodki, and appearing in billboards and ads in Japan ("Saving Grace, Again (Part 2)").
Some time before the series began, Karen started working as assistant at Grace Adler Designs in New York. However, Grace states that she doesn't actually "work" there and rather calls it the "sleep-it-off" place ("Home Court Disadvantage") where she goes to get away from Stan and the kids ("Girl Trouble"). Nevertheless, Grace keeps her around because Karen pays for her health insurance and bonuses ("Fanilow"), and uses her social contacts to keep Grace's business afloat ("Pilot").
Karen is noted for her high-pitched voice (which she got from her father, according to Lois) and her addiction to drugs and alcohol. Grace has described her as "a spoiled, shrill, gold-digging socialite who would sooner chew off her own foot than do an honest day's work" ("To Serve and Disinfect").
She is also portrayed as cruel and tactless in dealing with people, especially those not belonging to her social status. It has been implied that she has made waiters cry in several occasions ("Husbands and Trophy Wives") and that she has had people fired for senseless reasons. One recurring joke about Karen is how wicked she is to her staff at home, especially her devoted personal maid Rosario, who even "gave her the breath of life three times" ("Dames At Sea"). Will mentions that some of her servants hand him "Help me" cards when he goes to the mansion ("Swish Out of Water"). Except for some exceptions, she does not let her staff see her as shown in "Crouching Father, Hidden Husband" where whilst entering the room she announces "I'm approaching" or "I can see you", and the maids cower away quickly.
Karen tends to be flirty to certain characters male or female and often mentions doing outrageous sexual acts off-screen, although she consistently chastises Grace whenever she deduces that Grace has just slept with someone.
In at least one occasion, Karen has displayed an advanced understanding of economics ("Stakin' Care Of Business"), and computers ("Fanilow", "Fagmalion Part 2: Attack of The Clones"), although Grace mentions in earlier episodes that she doesn't even know how to use the fax machine.
Other Identities Edit
Throughout the series Karen often goes under the alias "Anastasia Beaverhausen," ("Anastasia as in Russian royalty, Beaverhausen as in...where the beaver live") ("A.I.: Artificial Insemination"), usually while in poor areas she does not want to be associated with. She also used the alias Pilar Palabundo to "beat up businessmen for cash in Chinatown" ("Nice In White Satin"). Her real name may not, in fact, be Karen, as she changes her name from time to time to throw off the "Feds." Her mother refers to her as "Kiki", which was her childhood nickname ("Someone Old, Someplace New").
Marriages and affairs Edit
She has been married four times — her first husband's surname was St. Croix, and her second was named Popeil (a reference to the American culinary businessman/entrepreneur Ron Popeil).
Karen met and fell in love with her third husband Stanley Walker even before her first marriage. After she found out that he is already married, she did not pursue him until he got divorced. They finally wed in 1995 until his untimely death while their divorce is still being finalized ("23"). Karen was then married for 20 minutes to Lyle Finster in May 2004 ("I Do. Oh, No. You Di-in't"). Karen later finds out that Stan faked his death to hide from the mob and after she confides to Will how betrayed she felt, she forgives Stan ("Alive and Schticking"). Karen has two stepchildren, Olivia and Mason, whom she refers to as "the girl" and "the fat one", respectively from Stan's previous marriage to Cathy ("Secrets and Lays")
In Thanksgiving of 2001, Stan who is jailed for tax evasion, allows Karen to have an affair while he is in prison. Karen refuses to, saying that the only man she wants is her husband ("Moveable Feast"). As Stan unexpectedly comes home from prison, she almost sleeps with rich bachelor Lionel Banks ("...And the Horse He Rode In On").
She has intimated an illicit relationship with Ronald Reagan, claiming no one said anything to her at his funeral because she was his mistress ("The Mourning Son"). She also implies to have been a lover of Jon Voight, Steven Tyler, and Goldie Hawn , none of whom wanted to leave their daughters for her ("The Accidental Tsuris"). Will says Karen also became "Husband #8" to Elizabeth Taylor due to her carelessness ("A-Story, Bee-Story"). She also had a relationship with a sultan named Habibi Shoshani Padush Al-Kabir, a man named Clayton, and Olympian Martina Navratilova (who was apparently straight before they met) ("Lows in the Mid-Eighties").
It has been a recurring humor throughout the series is that Karen has bisexual tendencies, mostly implied through semi-sexual encounters with Grace. She states that her idea of a girl's night includes getting tops off and "lady lovin'" ("Women and Children First"). She has mentioned attending Sarah Lawrence College, where most of her early lesbian experiences took place.
She is mocked by her one-time roommate Liz for her "weird bisexual vibe" ("Dolls And Dolls"), enjoys flirty banters with her maid Rosario, and implies to be attracted to her husband's mistress Lorraine Finster ("24"). Karen and her mother Lois also recall her falling in love with someone whom they refer to interchangeably as "he/him" and "she/her". It is also hinted that Karen may be transgender or intersex, as she sometimes refers to herself as a "boy" ("Cop To It") and mentions taking hormone pills to "prevent things from growing back" ("Bully Woolly").
Many female celebrities have also been implied to have sexual encounters with Karen, including Candice Bergen and Vanessa Williams. In "East Side Story", Karen said to lesbian realtor Deidre (played by Edie Falco), "Stay back, bulldozer, I'm engaged." To this, the realtor replied, "You were last time, too". Karen also makes passes at Leo's ex-girlfriend Diane ("Last Ex To Brooklyn"), Elliot's cheerleader crush Melanie ("I Never Cheered for My Father") and Grace's neighbor Julie. In the final episode, Grace has a fantasy dream in which Karen and Rosario are married.
To entertain herself, Karen took a job as personal assistant to interior designer Grace Adler. Though she never accomplishes any work (she cannot operate a computer or a fax machine), she doesn't quit because the job gets her "away from Stan and the kids," as she once told an intern. Grace does not fire her because Grace's business benefits from Karen's social contacts; Karen also pays for Grace's health insurance. Karen also appears to pay Grace's Christmas bonus, unlike the usual employer paying the employee the bonus. For a long time, Karen never cashed any of the paychecks she was given because, being rich, she didn't need to, also Karen and Grace had made a deal, in exchange for not cashing the checks Karen was not required to actually do any work. Instead she kept them in a shoebox on her desk because she thought they were "pretty pieces of paper." Once when Stan cut down on her extravagant spending habits, she cashed all her paychecks at once, nearly bankrupting Grace. Karen "kindly" gave the money back to Grace in the end, even though it would have been Karen's money to keep. Karen and Grace were very close friends, (despite Karen's constant criticisms and insults regarding Grace's clothing choices and personal life), and Karen and Will's dislike of each other turned to friendship over the years as well. Through Grace, she also developed a strong friendship with Jack McFarland, a gay man who was also good friends with Will.
Jack and Karen are extremely close.
Will started an awkward relationship with Karen mainly because he says they have nothing in common ("Will On Ice"). Although Will consistently expresses dislike for Karen's questionable behavior, they become considerably closer later on as Karen and Stanley become clients of his firm. In "A Chorus Lie", Karen chose Will to go with him to her to a gala she hosts every year with Stan, saying that ever since her husband was imprisoned, Will is "the only man in my life I can count on". It has been mentioned multiple times that Karen and Will mainly pay for Jack's expenses ("Moveable Feast"). During Stan and Karen's divorce, Will serves as his attorney, which upsets Karen ("23").
Will's first case with the Coalition for Justice is to bring Karen to trial for being a slumlord. Although Karen ends up her being forced to live in a run-down building in Spanish Harlem, they later come into terms stating they acted out of pettiness and spite ("Swish Out of Water").
Her relationship with her maid Rosario Salazar (played by Shelley Morrison), whom she met and hired in 1985 and for whom she even arranged a marriage with Jack to help her get a Green Card, is very close. Although the duo often bicker and fight, it is only part of the bond they share. In the beginning of the series, it seemed that Rosario didn't speak much English, and Karen had a hard time communicating with her. Karen's way of giving Rosario orders was to add the letter "o" to the end of every word she'd say (e.g., "Enougho with the April Fresho. *hangs up the phone* Right now she's calling me a bitcho"). In another example of miscommunication, Karen used to end phone calls with Rosario by saying "hola," which means "hello" in Spanish and not "goodbye." When Rosario was first seen on-camera at the end of the first season, it was revealed that she spoke English quite well and that Karen was being patronizing. In a later season, we see Karen forced to live in an apartment block she owns in Spanish Harlem as punishment for failing to bring the building to code. She is seen in this episode screeching at a child in the street in fluent Spanish, leading Will to comment "And yet when you talk to Rosario, it's 'Scrubbo the Tubbo.'"
Karen is known for her volatile arguments with her maid Rosario, where they screech over each other, ending simultaneously with a loud insult. A few seconds of silence follows before they embrace each other emotionally declaring their affection for each other, to the laughter of the audience. Their relationship is very much love-hate with each being brutally honest with the other, but at the end of the day still loving each other. Rosario affectionately calls Karen "mommy" from time to time, when they're not trading insults. The only low points were when Karen lost Rosario in a bet to her arch nemesis Beverley Leslie and when Karen sacked Rosario after discovering she had hidden the truth about her husband Stanley Walker being alive. Rosario appeared in the last episode, with her final words to Karen being "Suck it, bitch!"
Friends and Rivals Edit
Living in the high society, Karen has had connections to rich people, whom she has love-hate relationships with. Frequently, she describes them as rivals, including her "dearest white friend" Beverley Leslie; Stan's mistress Lorraine Finster; anti-gay politician Anita Bryant, who fell in love with her; her " arch-enemy-slash-best-friend" Candice Bergen; New York socialites Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue who live in Karen's apartment building; Scott Woolley who secretly loves her; Candace Pruitt; and famous interior designer Helena Barnes. Karen has a love-hate relationship with most of her rivals, openly insulting them while simultaneously thinking of them as her friends.
Lionel is a smooth-talking bachelor Karen meets at a hotel bar. She almost sleeps with him, but Stan, who was jailed for tax evasion comes home. Karen had to use his boobs to distract Stan with one and motion Lionel to get out ("Bacon and Eggs").
Milo is the manager at the Italian restaurant where Karen frequently goes to. She asks Karen to go on one date with him. He never called her again, which leaves Karen, who was recently divorced devastated ("Field Of Queens").
Malcolm is a guy who Karen went out with, who turns out to be an undercover agent working to protect his husband after he fake his death.
Things Karen ImpliedEdit
In conversation and offhand remarks, Karen has either directly stated or implied some unusual and highly improbable things about herself in the past, although these may have been caused by the drugs constantly takes.
- She was involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst ("I Second That Emotion").
- She is almost 200 years old, either by surgery or by a deal with the devil ("Brothers, A Love Story").
- She was close to Sunny von Bülow, that when Jack asked her who is the one person that could make her life complete again, she answered Sunny ("Someone Old, Someplace New"). Although she also claims to be part of the reason Sunny was in coma ("The Young and The Tactless").
- She was part of the Texian defense at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 ("Bully Wolly").
- She was alive during the Great Depression ("Grace Expectations").
- Before the invention of Botox, they had to go down to Chinatown, where they'd inject her frown lines with mayonnaise that had been left out in the sun for a week ("The Needle and the Omelet's Done").
- She had an affair with Martina Navratilova in the 1980s ("Lows in the Mid-Eighties").
- She was Ronald Reagan's mistress ("The Mourning Son").
- Homophobic politician Anita Bryant fell in love with her.
- She set up the governor of New Jersey with his boyfriend, or rather loaned them her apartment.
- When she was a "boy", she used to work at a supermarket ("Cop To It").
- She claims to still collecting money from Linda Hussein (fictional wife to Saddam Hussein) after Karen won a bet concerning who had the worst husband ("Women and Children First").
- She's in a gang, listens to gangster rap and is a fan of Aerosmith.
- She smoked weed with Debbie Harry ("24").
- She and Candice Bergen set up Martha Stewart and caused her to go to jail. She also implied that she had a sexual encounter with Candice ("Strangers With Candice").
- Pablo Picasso once offered to paint her but he wanted to put both breasts on one side of her body ("The Fabulous Baker Boy").
- She is the female model who posed with Vanessa Williams in the nude photographs by Penthouse in the Miss America 1984 scandal ("I Second That Emotion").
- She was cloned, but none of them survived ("Prison Blues").
- Various origins of how Rosario came to be her maid.
- In the pilot episode, Karen did not speak with her usual high and squeaky voice. Her voice did not change until subsequent episodes.
- Karen's bra size is 34C.
- Karen has two Pharmacists: Pharmacist, and "Back-Up Pharmacist".
- Her drag name is Shu Shu Fontana ("Boo! Humbug").
- Karen has an alias, "Anastasia Beaverhausen", which she uses when she wishes not to identify herself in suggestive areas, like bars and taco restaurants or at the Banana Republic.
- Karen calls every waiter who serves her in bars "Smitty".
- She is often out of touch with reality and tells stories from her past that are actually plots of famous books or movies, including Heidi, Speed and Norma Rae.
- For her performance as Karen, Megan Mullally has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for every season and has won twice, the most for any cast member.
After Will & GraceEdit
Walker's persona has appeared in advertisements for The Megan Mullally Show, which debuted in September 2006 and which was canceled in January 2007. In one, Karen asks Megan to take her along. In another, Karen tries to pass for Megan at a meeting with studio executives until she is caught by Mullally and they begin to physically struggle with each other.
Mullally once again donned a Walker persona in an episode of The Megan Mullally Show which featured Andy Dick. Mullally in a "Karen Walker voice", "I hurt his feelings, that was fun!"
"Honey what's going on with your hair? It looks like you've got mousse and squirrel in there."- "Big brother is coming (Part 2)"
Well, well, well. Look what the cat cleaned up, showered, exfoliated, powdered, lipsticked, Gucci'd and dragged in.- "Husbands and Trophy Wives"
Honey, this is a cult! Yeah. Like the Moonies or the homeless. Yes. They're trying to make gay people straight! Good Lord! Don't they know what that'll do to the fall line?- "Girls, Interrupted"
I may be a pill-popping, jet fuel sniffing, gin-soaked narcissist… but I'm not an actor. I listen when people speak.- "Partners 'n Crime"
You have to convince them that you two are a real married couple or this one's gonna be spooning ceviche out of a bucket on a dusty soccer field back in Chimichanga ville!- "Whose Mom Is It, Anyway?"
As I once said to Celine Dion, why the long face?- Season 6 Blooper Reel
I forget, what are you these days, gay or straight? Wait, wait, wait. Let me do a little test. Okay, there's a penis and a vagina in a tent. And it's on fire. Which do you save?- "Fagmalion Part One: Gay It Forward"
It's only acting, for God's sake. I mean, how hard can it be? Kate Beckinsale can do it.- "Blanket Apology"
Honey, that's just a saying, like, "Ooh, that sounds like fun," or, "I love you."- "Crazy In Love"
Let me paint you a little picture of life here at chez Walker. You may want to sit down for this. Nobody matters but me. Good night.- "He's Come Undone"
Honey, you married help? You're help.- "Guess Who's Not Coming To Dinner"