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Shannen Doherty Biography


Home > Actresses > D > Doherty, Shannen > Biography


Birth Name: Shannen Doherty
Born: 04/12/1971
Birth Place: Memphis, Tennessee, USA


Born on April 12, 1971 in Memphis, TN, Doherty was raised by her father, Tom, a banker, and her mother, Rosa, the owner of a beauty parlor. In 1978, the Doherty family moved to Los Angeles, where Tom started a West Coast branch of the family transportation business. Like many young girls plopped down in Hollywood, Doherty decided to pursue an acting career. But unlike many of those same girls, Doherty had actual acting chops and an undeniable onscreen charisma. She made her debut at the tender age of 10 with a role on the TV series "Father Murphy" (NBC, 1981-83). As luck would have it, actor Michael Landon spotted Doherty on "Father Murphy" and suitably impressed, cast her as Jenny Wilder during the final season of "Little House on the Prairie" (ABC, 1974-1983). Doherty would go on to appear in several made-for-television movies based on "Little House" in the following years. She also made appearances on such hit 1980s shows as "Air Wolf" (ABC, 1984-86) and "Magnum, P.I." (CBS, 1980-88) before rejoining Landon on an episode of "Highway to Heaven" (NBC, 1984-89).

By the time she was cast in the series "Our House" (1986-88), Doherty had appeared on the big screen in the Ron Howard comedy classic "Night Shift" (1982) and in "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (1985), appearing alongside a pre-pubescent Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. It was in 1989, however, when a grown up Doherty made her first big mark on pop culture, co-starring opposite Winona Ryder in the teen cult film "Heathers" (1989). The popular satire, which many considered one of the best dark comedies of the decade, put Doherty on the map as one of the legendary "Heathers" of Westerberg High School. Back on the small screen, she put in an appearance on the family drama "Life Goes On" (ABC, 1989-1993) before starring in the television movie "Freeze Frame" (Disney Channel, 1990), in which she played a high school television reporter who gets in over her head after uncovering a multimillion dollar biotech conspiracy.

At the age of 19, Doherty became a national celebrity after securing the role of Brenda Walsh on legendary producer Aaron Spelling's new teen drama, "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000). Audiences fell in love with the naïve Midwestern girl, who in turn falls for the local Beverly Hills bad boy, Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), while learning how to navigate the bitchy waters of West Beverly Hills High. After four years on "90210" - and amidst many reports of onset hostilities with her co-stars and crew, as well as reports of tardiness on set - Doherty left the show. Writers explained the absence by sending Brenda off to college in her home state of Minnesota. Both pre- and post-"90210," Doherty became the girl everyone loved to hate, with her personal life playing out like an amped up version of "90210" itself.

When not flashing the paparazzi the bird from L.A. nightclub windows or being accused of trashing rental properties, Doherty found time for love after becoming engaged in 1991 to Dean Factor, heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune. After separating from Factor, she was engaged to and then separated from Chris Foufas only a year later. Finally, she married Ashley Hamilton, son of the perennially tanned George Hamilton, two weeks after meeting him in 1993. Not surprisingly, they were divorced by the following year. Following a brief relationship with actor Judd Nelson, whom she met on the set of "Blindfold" (1994), she dated director Rob Weiss, announcing their engagement in 1995, only to split the following year. Back together again in 1997, they parted ways a second time in 1998. Adding to her infamy, Doherty appeared partially nude in Playboy in 1993 and graced the cover of Hugh Hefner's magazine in 1994.

In a bid to keep her acting career alive amidst the bad publicity blitz she herself had created, Doherty starred in features like "Almost Dead" (1994) and Kevin Smith's "Mallrats" (1995). Fortunately for the actress, her appeal as a star trumped her questionable onset reputation - to say nothing of Aaron Spelling's loyalty to the troubled star - which led to her being cast as Prue Halliwell on the surprisingly successful Spelling series, "Charmed" (The WB, 1998-2006). The show, a supernatural drama about three sexy sisterly witches who protect the innocent, co-starred "Who's the Boss" (ABC, 1984-1992) star Alyssa Milano and then-unknown actress Holly Marie Combs. Doherty flourished on the series, eventually directing three episodes before she was once again let go for behind-the-scenes difficulties; this time allegedly due to on-set cattiness between her and the equally famous Milano. This time, however, Doherty had the final laugh, since she owned a piece of the show even after being fired. Meanwhile, she burned even more bridges following her brief relationship with actor Julian McMahon, whom she met in 2001 while co-starring with him on "Charmed."

Back on her own after losing another high-profile series, Doherty reunited with Kevin Smith in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (2000) before appearing in a few television movies; most notably "Another Day" (USA, 2001) and "Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay" (USA, 2002). She also appeared in the straight-to-video flick, "The Rendering" (2002). In 2003, Doherty returned to television as a regular by hosting season one and part of season two of "Scare Tactics" (Sci-Fi Channel, 2002-04), before leaving to pursue other endeavors. Doherty later returned to series television with a recurring role on "North Shore" (Fox, 2004-05), arriving amidst minor controversy when the show's star, Brooke Burns, expressed her displeasure at Doherty's casting. Tabloids gleefully reported on-set tensions due to Burns' perception that Doherty had had an affair with her then-husband, Julian McMahon years before. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - for all involved, the Hawaii-based show was canceled after only one season.

Following a 10-page spread in Playboy in 2003, Doherty reunited with ex-husband Rick Salomon - soon to be infamous for his homemade sex tape with heiress Paris Hilton - after being separated for a year after their marriage was annulled. A year later, Doherty landed the role of Denise Johnson on the UPN sitcom "Love, Inc.," though Doherty was fired from this show after just the pilot episode. Following a turn as a scientist in the four-part disaster miniseries, "Category 7: The End of the World" (CBS, 2005), she was the host of "Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty" (Oxygen Media, 2006), a reality series in which the actress helped facilitate the break-up of both personal and professional relationships. After playing a professional thief who is transformed by the spirit of the holidays in "Christmas Caper" (ABC Family, 2007), Doherty reprised Brenda Walsh for several episodes of the reboot series, "90210" (The CW, 2008- ), starring alongside her long-ago off-set nemesis, Jennie Garth who had portrayed Brenda Walsh's best friend Kelly Taylor on the original series. Meanwhile, she joined the season 10 cast of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), appearing alongside the likes of Pamela Anderson, Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek and reality star Kate Gosselin.