|October 11, 1968|
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Born in Parsippany, NJ on Oct. 11, 1968, Jane Krakowski (nee Krajkowski) began acting at the age of 15. A gifted singer and dancer, Krakowski began studying ballet at age three; an effort which was applauded and supported by her parents who were both active in community theater. After being cast in an industrial fashion show in the early 1980s, Krakowski's career picked up. Her big screen debut as Cousin Vicki in "National Lampoon's Vacation" led to other small roles in such films as "Fatal Attraction" (1987) and "Stepping Out" (1991), but it was her two-year, Daytime Emmy-nominated stint as troubled teen Rebecca 'T.R.' Kendall on the long-running soap "Search for Tomorrow" (CBS, 1951-1986) for which she was most recognized at that time.
In the early 1980s, Krakowski unsuccessfully auditioned for a role in the Tommy Tune-directed "Nine" (1982). Though she lost that part, Krakowski instead landed the key role of Dinah the Dining Car in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, "Starlight Express" (1987). As one of only four performers to remain with the notoriously difficult show for its entire two-year run, Krakowski had to learn to sing and dance while performing on roller skates. When casting the musical "Grand Hotel," Tune remembered the petite singer-dancer and cast her as the secretary, Flaemchen - the role played by Joan Crawford in the 1932 film. Krakowski's rendition of "I Want to Go to Hollywood" became a nightly showstopper and earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination for both Drama Desk and Tony awards. She has also landed featured roles in the Broadway revivals of "Company" (1995) and "Once Upon a Mattress" (1996).
But it took her role as the ditzy office busybody Elaine Vassal on "Ally McBeal" for her to reach a wider audience. Krakowski managed to walk the fine line between being annoying and vulnerable, in her role as the meddlesome secretary. After "Ally McBeal" wrapped in 2002, Krakowski signed on to the comedy "Marci X," a film starring Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans about a Jewish-American Princess character who takes over a rap label and comes up against a spoiled and disrespectful hip-hop star. She then went on to a triumphant stint on Broadway, winning the 2003 Tony Award for her stunning and sultry portrayal of Carla in the musical "Nine," opposite Antonio Banderas. Her scintillating performance also earned the actress her first Drama Desk Award and the highly coveted Outer Critic's Award.
On the big screen, Krakowski appeared as one of a string of conquests in the life of Jude Law's womanizing title character in the 2004 remake of "Alfie. She was given the opportunity to show her stuff by singing and dancing on screen as the beguiling Ghost of Christmas Past in the NBC musical telepic version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (2004), opposite Kelsey Grammer. She followed up her musical turn by giving a strong, sly performance as an ambitious local TV journalist searching for scandal in the dark indie comedy, "Pretty Persuasion" (2005). Returning to the stage in 2006, Krakowski scored another career triumph by winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Miss Adelaide in the London revival of "Guys and Dolls."
In 2006, executives at NBC raised eyebrows when they hired Krakowski to replace comedienne Rachel Dratch for the pilot of "30 Rock," the Golden Globe-winning sitcom created by and starring Tina Fey. Although the circumstances for Dratch's firing were never made clear, the comedienne herself later stated that she was simply a victim of "creative re-tooling" and downplayed any rumors of backstage strife. All the better for Krakowski, who chewed the scenery as the spoiled star of the sitcom's fictional "Girlie Show" late night comedy sketch show. Throughout the first three seasons, Krakowski proved to be an invaluable member of the show's ensemble, further developing her character as an all-important, shameless attention-getter with hilariously transparent motives behind her every prima donna stunt. As part of the cast, Krakowski shared an Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Award from the Screen Actor's Guild - something her "30 Rock" character never would have settled for - in 2008. The following year, she earned Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy in 2009, 2010 and 2011.