Jenna Elfman biography
Date of Birth: September 30, 1971
The daughter of a Hughes Aircraft executive and a homemaker, Jenna Elfman was born and raised
in Los Angeles. While still quite young, she thought she might like to become a nun, but it soon
became clear that she had the soul of an entertainer. Following her graduation from high school,
she went on to attend one and a half semesters of college at Cal-State Northridge when she
found that higher education held little appeal for her, so she moved across town to look for
work in Hollywood.
Trained in classical dance from the age of five, the nineteen-year-old's first instinct was
to become a ballerina, and she briefly considered joining Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet Company.
Though overstressed ankles from years of pointe dancing ultimately tipped the scales against
the classical form, a gig in the 1991 Academy Awards extravaganza launched Elfman's career as
a dancer for television and film productions. Her accumulated experiences performing on such
primetime network stalwarts as Murder, She Wrote eventually sparked in her a serious interest
in acting. She enrolled at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, and commercial work for AT&T, Sprite,
Clearasil, and Honda helped pay the bills and gained the rookie valuable experience in front
of the camera. At the same time, Elfman kept her dance instincts sharp: one of her more
notable gigs was joining ZZ Top's 1994 World Tour as a "Legs Girl."
Shortly thereafter, Elfman secured the services of an agent, with whose help she began to
win more substantial, if still relatively minor, acting jobs in a string of episodes of
shows as diverse as Roseanne and NYPD Blue. In the summer of 1996, she filmed a brief part
in her first feature film, Grosse Pointe Blank. By the time studios began casting for fall
television pilots, Elfman had made a resolution to score a part in the cast of a new series,
and before too long, she managed to land a recurring role in the ABC sitcom Townies. Starring
opposite former eighties queen of teen screen Molly Ringwald, Elfman made a splash in the
supporting role, stealing whatever glory there was to be gained from Ringwald.
Both ABC and Twentieth Century Fox rushed in to woo Elfman with do-it-your-way development
deals the very same day the six-episode loser was given the official axe. The energetic
actress found herself torn between the greater freedom of a production pact with a major
studio and a sense of loyalty to the network that jump-started her television career. She
solved her dilemma by inking a deal with Fox and pitching her first project, a sitcom
called Dharma & Greg, to execs at ABC. Mere months after Townies had already become a minor
footnote in TV history, Dharma & Greg, Elfman's starring vehicle, entered advanced stages
of production. Knowing the casting of her costar would be critical to the success of the
show, she dismissed an entire roomful of potential Gregs before picking Thomas Gibson, fresh
from a critically applauded year on Chicago Hope. With an infectious chemistry between Elfman
and Gibson, Dharma & Greg became one of 1997's breakout TV triumphs.
While Dharma & Greg keeps racking up the ratings points, Elfman is driven to also conquer
the silver screen. She had her first shot with a starring role opposite Richard Dreyfuss
in Disney's spring 1998 release Krippendorf's Tribe, in which she played an anthropologist
who goes to great lengths to secure a government grant; and she joined the cast of the 1999
Ron Howard comedy EDtv, which co-starred fellow sit-comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and Matthew McConaughey.
She costarred with Edward Norton and Ben Stiller in Norton's directorial debut, Keeping The Faith, playing a beauty queen that both a rabbi and a priest fall for.
Since 1995, Elfman has been happily married to actor Bodhi Elfman, whom she met at an audition
for a Sprite commercial. The effervescent actress and her husband are practicing Scientologists,
and they have two children.
Jenna Elfman Filmography