Molly Ringwald

Also Credited As:

Molly K Ringwald, Molly Kathleen Ringwald
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Biography

During the mid-1980s, Molly Ringwald was the uncontested queen of teen movies and the poster child of suburban adolescent angst. As a member of the so-called Brat Pack - which included fellow stars Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy - her three-picture run with filmmaker John Hughes in instant classics like "Sixteen Candles" (1984), "The Breakfast Club" (1985) and "Pretty in Pink" (1986) established Ringwald as a teen kindred …
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Job Title

Actor

Born

Molly Kathleen Ringwald on February 18, 1968 in Roseville, California, USA

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During the mid-1980s, Molly Ringwald was the uncontested queen of teen movies and the poster child of suburban adolescent angst. As a member of the so-called Brat Pack - which included fellow stars Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy - her three-picture run with filmmaker John Hughes in instant classics like "Sixteen Candles" (1984), "The Breakfast Club" (1985) and "Pretty in Pink" (1986) established Ringwald as a teen kindred spirit who awkwardly navigated secret crushes, school dances and bitter clique wars, inching closer to adulthood by the time a triumphant pop song signaled the end credits. However, like all child and teen stars, the redhead's flame never burned quite so bright as those important years which launched a brand new genre of youth filmmaking. After several failed efforts to segue into adult romantic comedies, the actress moved to France where she appeared in foreign films and occasionally made stateside appearances in made-for-TV movies. After a long absence from the public consciousness, Ringwald resurfaced in 2008 as part of the cast of "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" (ABC Family, 2008- ), in which her career came full circle as she appeared as the mother of a pregnant high school student on the controversial drama series. Though she was relatively quiet later in her career, Ringwald nonetheless remained synonymous with the 1980s despite occasional efforts to reinvent herself.

Molly Ringwald was born on Feb. 18, 1968, in Northern California. Her father was jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, and this youngest of four kids inherited her dad's musical talent, as she was singing with his combo from the age of four. When she was six, Ringwald fronted the band on the album Molly Sings, and landed an acting role in a stage production of "The Grass Harp." The following year, she was appearing in commercials and television guest spots, as well as landing the highly-coveted role in the touring company of the family musical, "Annie." In 1979, the precocious redhead was cast in the first season of the girls' boarding school sitcom "The Facts of Life" (NBC, 1979-1988), but when the show returned the following year, its ensemble cast was whittled down to four main characters and young Ringwald was not among them. Licking her wounds, she won the role of John Cassavetes' daughter Miranda in Paul Mazursky's loose Shakespeare adaptation, "Tempest" (1982).

Ringwald's breakthrough came two years later when a starring role in John Hughes' teen comedy "Sixteen Candles" (1984) instantly turned her into an icon of insecure suburban teenagers everywhere. The angst-riddled weekend chronicle of a sophomore whose family forgets her birthday amidst the commotion of an older sister's wedding had all the ingredients of a classic high school comedy. The following year, she was handed the popularity her "Sixteen Candles" character could only have dreamed of with her "princess" role in "The Breakfast Club" (1985), her second feature with Hughes. With this cast - including Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy - audiences learned that the rich and well-dressed, along with the star athletes, the honor students, the delinquents, and the introverted artists, all have their own crosses to bear. The film was an even bigger hit, thanks to the ensemble cast carefully constructed to attract a wide audience of young adults who were certain to identify with at least one of the characters thrown together for an all-day detention-cum-group therapy session.

"Pretty in Pink" (1986) marked Ringwald's final film with Hughes, and it found the 18-year-old simultaneously at her peak of popularity but also at the end of her film career as an A-list draw. This formulaic tale of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks inexplicably infatuated with a charming preppie (Andrew McCarthy) lacked the humor, spark and teen energy of the first two efforts, and what little lightheartedness there was came from her wisecracking best buddy (Jon Cryer) who ultimately ended up getting his heart broken. Despite the more depressing tone, "Pretty in Pink" was another box office hit. Wishing to expand her horizons, Ringwald turned down a role in Hughes' next film, the less-than-successful "Some Kind of Wonderful" (1987), opting to leave the director's stable to co-star opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in the flop "The Pick-Up Artist" (1987). "For Keeps?" (1988), in which she played a high school senior who becomes pregnant, marries her boyfriend and discovers that domestic life is not what she thought it would be, was also a failure. Ditto for her reunion with doe-eyed McCarthy in the melodramatic "Fresh Horses" (1988).

The Hughes/Ringwald teen comedy formula had been a winning one, but the 20-year-old actress needed to make her mark as an adult if she wanted to continue her film career. Alan Alda's romantic comedy Betsy's Wedding" (1990) seemed like an appropriate way to announce the actress' adulthood, but the blustery film did not do much to capture Ringwald's appeal and made barely a dent at the box office. While shooting the 1950s-set comedy "Strike it Rich" (1990) in Europe, Ringwald fell under the spell of Paris and decided to live there, leaving her teen fame behind. She married French novelist Valery Lameignere and appeared in several French films, including "Seven Sunday" (1994), in which she juggled several suitors. She intermittently returned to the U.S. to shoot films including "Stephen King's 'The Stand'" (1994) and "Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade" (1994), the short film precursor to Billy Bob Thornton's Oscar-nominated "Sling Blade" (1997). In 1996, Ringwald made her move to television, playing a small town waitress alongside future TV stars Jenna Elfman and Lauren Graham on ABC's promising sitcom "Townies" (ABC, 1996), but the show failed to find an audience and was cancelled after its first season.

The following year, Ringwald had a stint on stage in a Los Angeles production of "How I Learned to Drive" and co-starred in the indie thriller "Office Killer" (1997). She starred in the TV movies "Once Upon a Time" (1998) and "Since You've Been Gone" (1998) and had a small role in the teen thriller "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999) before she debuted in a West End stage adaptation of "When Harry Met Sally." When Ringwald's marriage dissolved, she moved back the U.S. and settled in New York City, where she made a splash as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" and also appeared in Jonathan Larson's "tick, tick, Boom!"

The well-read literature fan launched a side career writing book reviews and became engaged to writer and book editor Panio Gianopoulos. Ringwald gave birth to a daughter in 2003, and three years later, hit Broadway in revivals of "Cabaret" and "Enchanted April." After touring nationally with the musical "Sweet Charity," Ringwald was contacted by "7th Heaven" (The WB/The CW, 1996-2007) executive producer Brenda Hampton about a new series in development. Ringwald fell in love with the script and characters and signed on to play the mom of pregnant teenager in "The Secret Life of the American Teen" - a hot news topic after the success of the similarly themed, Oscar-nominated film "Juno" (2007).