Also Credited As:Love Hewitt
|Actor, Producer, Music|
|February 21, 1979|
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Despite what skeptics might have said later on, Jennifer Love Hewitt did not adopt her catchy middle name as a showbiz ploy; it was given to her on Feb. 21, 1979 - the day she was born in Waco, TX. She was raised in the small town of Killeen, which could barely contain her talent even at the age of six when she performed "The Greatest Love of All" at a livestock fair. Dance classes and impromptu performances at local venues followed, leading to the nine-year-old Hewitt being cast in an internationally touring song and dance group called Texas Show Team. The following year, she landed a contract with L.A. Gear sneakers, dancing in their traveling promotional shows and appearing in a commercial with Michael Jordan. At the advice of a talent scout, Hewitt and her mother relocated to Los Angeles so that the big dreamin' Texan could take a shot at stardom.
Hewitt, a child actress of the wide-eyed, over-enunciating, hyperventilating-with-enthusiasm variety, quickly landed work in commercials, signing a tywo-year spokesmodel contract with Mattel's Barbie. In 1989, she was hired on the Disney sitcom "Kids Inc." (syndicated, 1984-86; Disney Channel 1986-1992) which centered on a wholesome, song-and-dance trained kid band that performed current pop hits. Still under contract with L.A. Gear, Hewitt recorded a promotional CD single for the brand - a cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" - and with the press coverage that "Kids Inc." was receiving, seemed poised to launch a teen pop career. After taping a Barbie-themed workout video under her Mattel contract in 1991, Hewitt released an album called Love Songs (1992) for Japan pop audiences - a group apparently more receptive to the sugary sweet preteen sound. The hungry young performer had almost more than she could handle that year, cast in three TV series - including two failed pilots and one that ran half a season - and appointed Youth Ambassador at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Outside the song and dance arena, she had straight acting roles in the video release "Munchie" (1992), "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993), and the TV film "Little Miss Millions" (1993). Two different sitcom families claimed Hewitt as a teenage daughter in 1994 - midseason replacement "Byrds of Paradise" (ABC, 1994) which was cancelled in the summer, and in the fall, "McKenna" (ABC, 1994-95) for just one season.
In 1995, Hewitt found her niche with the teen drama "Party of Five." The show was already a critic's pick but was still trying to build ratings when Hewitt joined the cast in the second season, playing Sarah Reeves, girlfriend of Bailey Salinger (Scott Wolf). The effervescent teen quickly became a favorite with the younger crowd, earning nominations from the Kids Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards, as well as a prestigious nod from the grownups in 1996 with the show's Golden Globe Award for Best Drama. Hewitt took advantage of her new high profile to record a self-titled album, as her first U.S. release the previous year had flown virtually under the radar. Jennifer Love Hewitt did not produce any hits, but its bland soul-pop confirmed her persona as a reliable, non-threatening teen entertainer.
In 1997, the doe-eyed innocent, who had spent most of her "Party of Five" career hidden beneath Gap clothes, landed a crop-top leading role in the thriller "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997) - which helped Hewitt facilitate a long relationship with Maxim and FHM "Sexiest" lists. Aside from that, the film was a favorite at the box office, and helped establish the teen horror genre as one of the hottest of the time. For her role as ambitious teen Julie, Hewitt earned a "Favorite Newcomer Award" at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. A sequel the following year, "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998) failed to make the same impact, however Hewitt enjoyed success with "Can't Hardly Wait" (1998) - a "one night at a high school party" movie that attained cult status as among the best of the genre.
Now one of the most popular young actresses in Hollywood, Hewitt remained focused on her career when others might have strayed. She was very open about the fact that she continued to live with her mother well into her twenties, and she was even slightly embarrassed to admit that she did not drink, smoke, swear, or live any sort of glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. Magazine gossip linking her to every imaginable single male suggested otherwise - including Wilmer Valderrama, John Mayer and Carson Daly - but in fact, the girl who had a fan web site devoted solely to her famous bosom, was photographed by paparazzi indulging in the most uncontroversial of activities - shopping in a scrapbook store, etc.
Despite her saturation on the Web, Hewitt's post "Party" spin-off series "Time of Your Life" (1998-99) was canceled half way through it first season. She went on to star in the USA Network biopic "The Audrey Hepburn Story" (2000), portraying one of her all time idols - much to some critics' consternation that she could hardly fill the legend's sh s. Undaunted, the 20-year-old Hewitt continued trying to angle away from teen roles, next starring on the big screen opposite Sigourney Weaver as a mother-daughter con artist team in "HeartBreakers" (2000). In a further effort to distance herself from her kind of "Pollyanna past," she took a role as the devil in "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (shot 2001), a film directed by and starring Alec Baldwin, but plagued with financial troubles and an indefinitely postponed release date.
In an unlikely pairing, Hewitt teamed up with Jackie Chan for the family action comedy "The Tuxedo" (2002). Several made-for-TV movies and role in the semi-animated feature "Garfield" (2004) seemed to suggest that Hewitt's peak was behind her. Even her 2002 album BareNaked failed to deliver on its titillating promise, critics lambasting the singer for a cliché-riddled album lacking in whatever quality had made her such a popular film and TV star just a few years earlier. In 2005, Hewitt proved naysayers wrong once again by returning to regular series television and headlining "The Ghost Whisperer" (CBS, 2005-2010), where she starred as a young paranormal investigator with the gift of communicating with earthbound spirits. Audiences seemed willing to accept Hewitt in this new adult persona - enough that she was nominated for People's Choice, Kids Choice, and Teen Choice Awards in 2006. In 2007, she received a Saturn Award for Best Actress in a Television Program. After "The Ghost Whisperer" was canceled due to low ratings, Hewitt produced and starred in "The Client List" (Lifetime, 2010), playing Samantha Horton, a wife and mother whose family has fallen on hard times and who turns to prostitution in order to make ends meet. Hewitt's winning performance earned the young actress a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries.