Also Credited As:Jennifer Garth, Jennifer Eve Garth
|Jennifer Eve Garth on April 3, 1972 in Urbana, Illinois, USA|
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Born April 3, 1972 in Urbana, IL, Garth was raised by her schoolteacher parents, John and Carolyn, both of whom had children from previous marriages. She remained on her family's horse ranch until she was 13, when they all moved to Glendale, AZ, where she began modeling and taking dancing lessons. At 15 years old, Garth was discovered by a Hollywood scout while participating in a beauty pageant and was convinced to go to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Garth dropped out of high school during her junior year and moved to Hollywood, quickly landing an episode of "Growing Pains" (ABC, 1985-1992) and a regular role on the short-lived sitcom "Brand New Life" (NBC, 1989-1990). While the latter did little to advance her career, its quick demise freed Garth to land her career-making role, playing spoiled teen vixen Kelly Taylor on the teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000).
Over the course of her 10 seasons on the show, her popular tramp-turned-good girl Kelly afforded Garth the opportunity to not only grow up on camera, but to fully develop her character and improve her acting chops with each passing season. From surviving getting burned in a fire, to battling a cocaine addiction, to dealing with the love triangle drama of Kelly, Dylan and Brenda, Garth showed her versatility time and again. Initially cast as the class tart with Shannon Doherty's Brenda the heroine of the show, Garth quickly emerged as the fan favorite - no doubt some of it a result of Doherty's real-life run-ins with the law and paparazzi. While a reported off-screen feud between seemingly the entire cast and wild child Doherty grabbing the headlines, Garth emerged from the scandals unscathed and above the fray. Meanwhile, the enterprising Garth taught good nutritional habits and fostered positive body image in teens with her video release, "Jennie Garth's Body in Progress" (1992).
Outside of "Beverly Hills, 90210," she made her TV-movie debut in "Danielle Steel's 'Star'" (NBC, 1993), playing Crystal Wyatt, a young woman who turns personal tragedy into professional success as a popular singer. Garth gave a solid performance, but the clichéd film failed to make a memorable mark. She was more impressive in the gripping drama, "Lies of the Heart: The Story of Laurie Kellogg" (ABC, 1994), where Garth played a teen bride who puts up with a decade of abuse before convincing four young friends to murder her despicable husband (Gregory Harrison). Later that year, she played a rebellious young teen committed to a psychiatric facility by her out-of-touch parents in "Without Consent" (ABC, 1994), an entertaining telepic that marked Garth's first foray as an executive producer. After starring in the forgettable thriller "Falling for You" (CBS, 1995), Garth broke her good-girl stereotype by playing a colorfully contemptible woman who takes up with her married former lover's son (Peter Facinelli) in the revenge thriller, "An Unfinished Affair" (ABC, 1996). Not only was her performance a devilish take on Kelly Taylor, but she began a relationship with Facinelli that later turned into marriage in 2001.
Meanwhile, Garth had a role as the concerned girlfriend of a targeted shock jock's protégé in the HBO-aired film "Power 98" (1996) and was featured in the Ireland-set political drama "My Brother's War" (1998), which was released direct-to-video. After teaming with Facinelli for a cameo in the indie feature "Telling You" (1999), Garth tried her hand at directing an episode of "90210" during the show's final season. With the bittersweet conclusion of the show's final episode in 2000, Garth was free to pursue other adventures and quickly landed a recurring role on the short-lived drama "The $treet" (Fox, 2000), a serialized drama about a group of twenty-somethings surviving the world of Wall Street. She went on to play a young woman set on reclaiming her family ranch in "The Last Cowboy" (Hallmark Channel, 2003) and went against type to play the older sister opposite Amanda Bynes on the modestly popular sitcom, "What I Like About You" (The WB, 2002-06). After a decade's worth of primetime teen angst, Garth enjoyed a solid run doing situational comedy and watched as her younger co-star became a breakout star.
Unlike a majority of her "90210" co-stars, Garth was able to forge ahead with new projects and characters that helped differentiate herself from the series. Meanwhile, after seeing former co-star Ian Ziering on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), Garth became a contestant on season five of the popular show. The actress put on a good show, making it all the way to the semi-finals despite taking a tumble in the first few weeks. She was eliminated during the ninth week of competition before the far inferior dancer, Marie Osmond, which caused many people to call foul, including the judges. In 2008, Garth came full circle with Kelly Taylor, as she reprised the character for the spin-off series, "90210" (The CW, 2008- ) alongside Shannon Doherty. Both were featured prominently during the show's first season, but the focused shifted more towards the high school kids in season two, with Garth eventually leaving the show in 2010. Garth also appeared as a celebrity contestant on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (Fox, 2007-09), where she won $100,000 for her charity, the American Heart Association. She returned to making television movies, starring in "Accidentally in Love" (Hallmark Channel, 2011) and "A Christmas Wedding Tail" (Hallmark Channel, 2011). Meanwhile, her personal life took a drastic turn when Garth announced in early 2012 that she and husband Peter Facinelli were divorcing after 11 years of marriage that had produced three daughters.
By Shawn Dwyer