Elizabeth Berkley (Actress) as Jessie - Saved by the Bell
Elizabeth Berkley 1
Updated: 2/5/09

Name: Elizabeth Berkley

Born: July 28, 1972, Farmington Hills, Michigan

Claim To Fame: Her portrayal of the intellectual highschooler Jessie Spano on the hit television series Saved by the Bell earned her praise and recognition. She played the role from 1989 to 1993 as well as in both of the show's TV movie installments. She also found herself in the spotlight for her racy role in the 1995 Paul Verhoeven movie Showgirls.

Family Life: She has been married to artist and occasional actor Greg Lauren since 2003.

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Info: Berkley was a dancer since a young age, practicing every day in a dance room that her parents built for her in their basement. As she got older, her love of dancing continued to increase, and she traveled to New York to train with fellow dancers and top choreographers. She was part of several ballets, including Swan Lake, and appeared in some musicals. Berkley also worked for Elite as a teen model before pursuing an acting career.

Her screen debut came in 1987 with a role in the TV movie Frog, and in 1989, she auditioned for the role of Kelly on Saved by the Bell. The show's producers couldn't decide whether to cast her or Tiffani Thiessen, and in the end, created the character of Jessie for Berkley. Berkley's performance received praise within the industry, and the show ended up being a huge success.

Following the series, Berkley attempted to break into film with the role of Nomi Malone, the lead character in the infamous 1995 Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls. However, the controversial NC-17 flick was a box office bomb, and Berkley was given two Razzie awards for her performance in the film. She decided to change course and opt for smaller roles in quality films, such as The First Wives Club. She has also done well with strong supporting roles in independent movies such as The Taxman, Tail Lights Fade, Roger Dodger, and Moving Malcolm.

On stage, Berkley appeared opposite Eddie Izzard as Honey in the London stage version of Lenny. She made her Broadway debut in the comedy Sly Fox, opposite Richard Dreyfuss in February 2004. She replaced Catherine Kellner as Bonnie in the 2005 Off Broadway production of David Rabe's Hurlyburly, and received much praise for her role.

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Trivia: Has a rare condition called heterochromia, in that her eyes are two different colors. Her right eye is half green and half brown while her left eye is green.

Once sat next to a man on an international flight who watched Showgirls (1995) on his in-seat video screen and never recognized her.

In 1997, donned a $600 form-fitting gown made entirely of collard greens for the "Lettuce Be Lean" campaign sponsored by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. According to "People Weekly", a source claims "she had to be misted every 20 minutes, like a produce section".

Has an older brother, Jason.

Is a vegetarian.

Dated actor Roger Wilson from 1997 1999.

Auditioned for the film Annie (1982), but was turned down because she was too tall.

Attended Warner Middle School in Farmington Hills, MI.

Husband, Greg Lauren, is a successful and professional nude painter. They met each other in a dance class in 2000.

Married Greg Lauren in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the Esperanza Hotel.

In the early 1990s a 12-inch doll was made of her as her character, Jessie Spano, from "Saved by the Bell." The same was done for the other cast members.

Good friends with Jennifer Beals.

Was advised by her manager not to do Roger Dodger (2002). She ignored him and decided to do the film because she loved the script.

Shares a birthday with Jacqueline Kennedy, Sally Struthers, Tom Pelphrey, Laquayva, Lori Loughlin and Leonor Watling.

After Showgirls (1995), she got a degree in English Literature from UCLA and entered into the United Talent Agency.

Attended the prestigious Cranbrook-Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, at the same time as actress Selma Blair.

In 2000, she was made the subject of a $45 million lawsuit when actor and screenwriter Roger Wilson took action against Leonardo DiCaprio, claiming that DiCaprio had encouraged his friends to assault Wilson in a street fight after he tried to defend Berkley, who had been the subject of DiCaprio and his friends' unwanted advances.

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Where Are They Now: Berkley has guest starred on several dramatic television series, including CSI, NYPD Blue, Without a Trace, Threshold, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and also had a recurring role on the critically acclaimed sitcom Titus.

She had the lead role in the Lifetime TV movie Student Seduction, in which she played a high school teacher who was wrongfully accused of harassment. She followed this with another made-for-television movie entitled Black Widow, in which she played a woman suspected of killing her husbands for their money.

In 2008, she starred in a series of CSI: Miami episodes, playing Horatio Caine's ex-lover Julia Winston. The episodes on which she appeared were so highly rated that she will be returning for season seven in the fall.

Berkley also hosts Bravo's reality series, Step It Up and Dance, a competition featuring ten dance hopefuls who compete against each other to win $100,000 as well as the chance to work with and perform for some of the country's top choreographers. The show premiered in April 2008 and came out as the network's strongest ever in its time slot (10/11c) with 826,000 viewers.

While on the press tour for the reality show, Berkley appeared on various shows including various morning news programs, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Fuse TV's The Sauce, E!'s Chelsea Lately, CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, and ABC's The View.

Also in 2008, she starred alongside Thomas Jane in David Arquette's short film The Butler's in Love. The film premiered at Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles in June. She has been cast in the sequel to cult hit Donnie Darko, S. Darko, which is scheduled for release in 2009 and is currently being filmed in Utah. She will play Trudy, a former drug addict turned born again Christian who becomes infatuated with her pastor.

In 2009, look for Berkley to appear in several episodes of the Showtime series The L Word, during its sixth and final season. She will play the straight girl that got away from Jennifer Beals' character Bette Porter in college.

Berkley is also developing a reality series with MTV that will focus on her Ask-Elizabeth self-help program - and has the same name as its working title, Ask-Elizabeth - for teen girls. For the show, she will travel and meet wiht girls of all ages to discuss topics that are important to them.

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Write To Elizabeth Berkley:
Elizabeth Berkley
12400 Ventura Blvd. #122
Studio City, CA 91604-2406


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