Date of Birth: June 29, 1967
The daughter of character actor Jerry Hardin and acting coach Diane Hardin, Melora Hardin began her career as a child actor. Born in Houston, Texas, she was raised in Los Angeles and started dance lessons at age five. She landed her first TV role at the age of eight as a regular on the TV series The Cliffwood Avenue Kids. Another role on the TV series Thunder immediately followed.
At 13, Hardin won a scholarship to study with the Joffrey Ballet Company in New York, but kept up her acting career throughout her teens, with guest starring roles on popular TV series such as Different Strokes, The Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie, Magnum P.I., Quincy and Hotel. She also appeared in the ABC Afterschool Special What Are Friends For, co-starring another popular child actress, Dana Hill.
Hardin attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York State and while there, got her first major headlining moment in 1988, playing Baby in the short-lived CBS-TV adaptation of Dirty Dancing. Throughout the nineties, she maintained an impressive schedule as a working actress. In 1991 she played the role of a vintage-era nightclub singer in The Rocketeer, contributing several songs to the film's soundtrack. On television she continued to make appearances on shows like Friends, Caroline in the City and Diagnosis Murder.
In 1997 Clint Eastwood cast her in the pivotal role of Christy Sullivan opposite Gene Hackman in Absolute Power. In 2000, she starred in the gritty TV drama series Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family. In 2004 she playing wife to the obsessive compulsive investigator (Tony Shaloub) on the critical fave Monk.
However, a pilot she had filmed earlier called The Office, based on the famed British series of the same name, plucked her away from that with its sudden and highly touted success. Her portrayal of no-nonsense boss and occasional sex object, Jan Levinson, was an enormous hit with viewers.
Being part of an award-winning show opened new doors for Hardin, who then appeared in big studio motion pictures such as Thank You for Smoking (2006), 27 Dresses (2007), Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) and 17 Again (2009) with Zac Efron and Matthew Perry.
Hardin recently made her feature film directorial debut with the movie You. Onstage, she's played the lead part of Fantine in the Hollywood Bowl rendition of Les Miserables in Concert, and has also starred as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway.
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Thank You for Smoking
The Hot Chick
Reckless Kelly (1993)
The Rocketeer (1991)