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Rachael Harris

Mayim Bialik Biography

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Birth Name: Mayim Bialik
Born: 12/12/1975
Birth Place: San Diego, California, USA

Born Dec. 12, 1975 in San Diego, CA, Mayim Hoya Bialik was raised by her first-generation Jewish American parents, John, a high school drama teacher, and Barbara, a nursery school director. She broke into TV with small roles on "Beauty and the Beast" (CBS, 1987-1990) and "The Facts of Life" (NBC, 1979-1988), before making her screen debut with a bit part in the Lance Henrikson horror film "Pumpkinhead" (1988). She dazzled critics and caught the attention of audience members with her magnetic turn as the young C.C. Bloom (Bette Midler) in the sentimental "Beaches" (1988). Sporting wild red hair and a wise-cracking sense of humor well beyond her years, Bialik stole the movie with her gawky but determined charisma, and earned a Young Artist Award and a flurry of attention. She went on to a number of recurring guest spots on popular shows like "Webster" (ABC/Syndicated, 1983-89), "MacGyver" (ABC, 1985-1992) and "Empty Next" (NBC, 1988-1995), before landing her breakthrough role.

Bialik actually was the lead in two competing series, "Molloy" (Fox, 1990) and "Blossom" (NBC, 1990-95), though the former failed to launch, leaving the latter to become a long-running, popular hit. The young actress starred as the precocious Blossom Russo, a young woman coming-of-age in an all-male household who held her own with her braininess, refreshing offbeat personality, and endearingly colorful, early 1990s wardrobe topped off with oversized flowery hats. Although Joey Lawrence as her dimwitted heartthrob brother and Jenna Van Oÿ as her speed-talking best friend had the showier comic roles, Bialik's brooding Blossom anchored the often serious-minded series, which took the growing pains of teenage girls seriously, much to the delight of certain comedians who made jokes about the abundance of "Very Special Episodes" of the series. Still, Bialiak's unconventional beauty and the character's devotion to social issues and overall intelligent sensitivity produced an excellent, strong role model for young women, and helped position the actress as a young woman of substance with loftier goals than fame.

Bialik went on to star alongside Michael J. Fox in Woody Allen's adaptation of his play "Don't Drink the Water" (ABC, 1994), and after "Blossom" ended, made a string of small television appearances, including a recurring role on "The John Larroquette Show" (NBC, 1993-96). But her desire for higher education beckoned and she took a break from acting to attend college. Even though she was accepted to Harvard and Yale, Bialik chose to stay on the West Coast and to earn a B.S. in Neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2007 from UCLA, specializing in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome. During that time, Bialik got married in 2003 to Michael Stone and gave birth to her first child in 2005 - the same year she marked her return to acting by playing a fictionalized version of herself who sparred with Kristie Alley in the pseudo-reality sitcom "Fat Actress" (Showtime, 2005). Bialik then notched guest spots on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ), "Bones" (Fox, 2005- ) and "'Til Death" (Fox, 2006-2010), and had a recurring role as school counselor Dr. Wilameena Bink on "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" (ABC Family, 2008- ).

Although the nostalgia boom of the 2000s had poked ample fun at the very-1990s "Blossom," Bialik had the last laugh by achieving the rare feat of a successful professional transition to grown-up actor. Tapped to guest star on "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ) as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist who was in many ways a female version of Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Bialik proved so charming that she was added as a recurring character in the fourth season and quickly elevated to full-time cast member. The enormously popular series benefited from the addition, and Bialik won raves, a slew of new fans and even an Emmy nomination for her supporting turn as a socially awkward genius. Meanwhile, Bialik gave birth to a second son in 2008 and became a vocal advocate for veganism, natural family living and homeschooling as well as publicly embracing a rigorous study of her Jewish faith. She signed with Simon & Schuster to write a book on holistic parenting, which was due out in 2012.

By Jonathan Riggs