Also Credited As:Kendra Baskett, Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett, Kendra Leigh Wilkinson
|Kendra Leigh Wilkinson on June 12, 1985 in San Diego, California, USA|
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Kendra Leigh Wilkinson was born on June 12, 1985 in San Diego, CA. She was the eldest of two children born to Patti and Eric Wilkinson and grew up in Clairemont, a middle-class suburb in central San Diego. Before graduating from Clairemont High School in 2003, the future television star developed her athletic aptitude early, playing softball for six years with the Clairemont Bobby Sox. Before she became one of Hollywood's most popular girls next door, Wilkinson worked as a dental assistant and at a Papa John's pizzeria in her hometown. In 2004, Wilkinson was hired to be one of the "painted girls" during the 78th birthday party of Playboy magazine founder, Hefner, to be held at the celebrated Playboy Mansion West. She worked the party completely nude except for a few strategically placed painted-on accessories. Taken in by the sight of the nubile blonde, the legendary ladies man - who was more than 50 years her senior - called Wilkinson personally and invited her to move in and live as one of his girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion. Wilkinson agreed and moved in with his two other buxom blonde girlfriends, Madison and Marquardt.
The unique lives of the three blonde bombshells living in the historic mansion were the focus of the hit reality series, "The Girls Next Door." While they all sported Hefner's hair color of choice - blonde and blonder - their personalities could not have been more different. As Hefner's main squeeze and the only girlfriend who shared the same bedroom with him, Madison was the most organized and assumed the role of ringleader. Bubbly Marquadt was the most "girly" of the three, and the only girlfriend who pursued a career in communications while still living at the Mansion. Wilkinson, the youngest of the girlfriends, was the rebel who preferred watching her favorite team on TV - the San Diego Chargers - than participating in Playboy-related activities such as learning how to dance the "Bunny hop." The scantily-clad trio's frequent partying, jet setting, sexy photo shoots, and other scintillating activities made the show one of E! Entertainment's top-rated series and the girls much sought-after celebrities. Although they were not Playmates, per se, they appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine together three times while Wilkinson nabbed her first solo cover in February 2009. The trio also co-authored a book, The Girls Next Door in 2008.
Wilkinson and her roommates frequently guest starred on television shows and films that used the Playboy Mansion and Playmates in the storylines. The trio appeared as Playboy bunnies during season 2 of the slick HBO series, "Entourage" (2004- ) and on the daytime drama "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ) in 2007. In 2005, Wilkinson guest starred as herself on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ) in an episode where one of the show's male leads traded his smoking jacket with Hefner. The trio also enjoyed a cameo in the comedy "Scary Movie 4," appearing as themselves and having a pillow fight with the film's lead actor, Charlie Sheen. They again appeared as Playboy bunnies in the feature film "The House Bunny" starring Anna Faris as a former Playmate forced out into the real world after she gets ousted from the Playboy Mansion.
During the show's earlier seasons, Wilkinson had no qualms acting her age - she was only 20 when it premiered - and admitted in one episode that she did not want to take on additional responsibilities beyond taking care of her two dogs, Rascal and Martini. But the self-professed "tomboy," who also called herself "Kdub" on the show, somehow grew up in front of the camera, proving even that she had some business acumen by using her earnings from "The Girls Next Door" to buy an apartment in San Diego as an investment property. Wilkinson took advantage of her celebrity status to pursue other non-Playboy ventures, including becoming a blogger in 2005 for the Philadelphia Eagles website, which coincidentally, was the team her mother had been a cheerleader for and where her future husband, Hank Baskett, was a wide receiver. She also showed off her rapping skills in the reality competition series, "Celebrity Rap Superstar" (MTV, 2007).
Wilkinson surprised the show's fans with her announcement on November 2008 that she was engaged to Baskett, whom she had met at the Playboy Scramble earlier that year. Her announcement came on the heels of Hefner also breaking up his relationships with both Madison, who was rumored to have been dating illusionist Criss Angel, and Marquardt, who was on the verge of starring in her own show, "Bridget's Sexiest Beaches" (Travel Channel, 2009- ). The trio obviously had their high heels out the door even while episodes of "The Girls Next Door" continued to show them cavorting with Hefner on air. But the façade did not last too long and by October 2008, all three had eventually moved out.
The media followed each girl's move, speculating on how they were to survive on their own, but discovered quickly what Wilkinson had up her sleeve. After moving out of the mansion, she embarked on a new life with the NFL star that was documented on her own series "Kendra." Debuting to 2.6 million viewers, the show provided a quirky look at Wilkinson as an individual and a showcase for her funny antics as she learned to cook, clean and basically prepare for her new role as wife. She also announced on the show that she was pregnant. Before tying the knot, however, Wilkinson had one last single girl hurrah with an outrageous bridal shower at which her friends, including Marquardt, were all clad in lingerie, licked frosting off each other. In June of 2009 - in a wedding fit for a princess - Wilkinson exchanged wedding vows with Baskett in front of hundreds of guests, including Hefner, Marquardt and Madison, who served as bridesmaids, at the Playboy Mansion. Although there were talks that Hefner would walk her down the aisle, Wilkinson's brother, Colin, did the honors.
On Dec. 11, 2009, Wilkinson and her husband welcomed their first child together, Hank Baskett IV, an event that was, of course, covered in a televised E! special, "Kendra: Here Comes Baby." In addition to her ongoing duties as a new mom as well as the star and producer of her own show, she still managed to make appearances on her former mansion mate's E! reality series for a few episodes of "Holly's World" (2009- ). Then in a move that would provide her with a chance to exhibit true talent, Wilkinson joined the cast of the 12th season of the celebrity dance competition, "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).