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Debi Mazar Biography


Home > Actresses > M > Mazar, Debi > Biography


Birth Name: Debi Mazar
Born: 08/15/1964
Birth Place: Queens, New York, USA


Mazar was born to Latvian parents on Aug. 13, 1964, and raised mainly by her mother on Manhattan's Lower East Side. She was living on her own by the time she was 15, making a name for herself in the downtown club scene of the early 1980s for her flamboyant personal style, not to mention her "BFF" status with the then up-and-comer Madonna. Mazar became a successful makeup artist in her early 20s, frequently "painting" her friend Madonna for stage and video productions. Their friendship led to Mazar's appearances in a number of the Material Girl's videos including "True Blue," and sparked her own interest in acting. After a few years of drama training, Mazar made the career leap from behind-the-scenes to scene-stealing supporting roles with Martin Scorsese's classic mob drama "GoodFellas" (1990), where she played the coke-snorting girlfriend of married underworld wheeler-dealer Henry Hill (Ray Liotta).

Minor roles in Oliver Stone's "The Doors" (1991), Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" (1991) and Jodie Foster's "Little Man Tate" (1991) followed before Mazar garnered attention for playing tough-talking legal secretary Denise Iannello on the ABC divorce law drama, "Civil Wars" (1991-93). During her run on the series, she maintained a toehold in independent film with supporting roles in Alexandre Rockwell's "In the Soup" (1992), Cameron Crowe's "Singles" (1992), and Lee's "Malcolm X" (1992). Upon the cancellation of "Civil Wars" in 1993, Mazar enjoyed the unusual opportunity to jump networks and reprise her character on NBC's colossal hit, "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994), where she spent the 1993-94 television season. She went on to take the leading role opposite John Cusack in the blue collar comedy "Money For Nothing" (1993) and her outsize personality was well-suited to exaggerated family films "Toys" (1992) and "Beethoven's 2nd" (1993), where she offered a deliciously vivid performance as a villainous dog owner.

Mazar paired with Joan Cusack again in the working class comedy, "Money for Nothing" (1993) and shared the screen with Drew Barrymore as fellow criminal molls in Joel Schumacher's blockbuster "Batman Forever" (1995); with Mazar the spice to Barrymore's sugar. However, independent filmmakers began employing her more steadily; she appeared as a phone sex operator in Spike Lee's "Girl 6" (1996), played a flirtatious working class barfly in Steve Buscemi's "Trees Lounge" (1996), and took the lead (alongside Dennis Hopper and Stephen Dorff) in the sci-fi comedy, "Space Truckers" (1997). Returning to the small screen, Mazar starred in the short-lived sitcom "Temporarily Yours" (CBS, 1997) as a temp-for-hire that frequently finds herself in absurd situations. Despite Mazar's proletarian charm and knack for physical humor, the underdeveloped show failed to click with audiences. That same year, Mazar had supporting roles in Nick Cassavetes' drama "She's So Lovely" (1997) and the Rodney Dangerfield flop "Meet Wally Sparks" (1997), a comedy seeking to bank on the trend of outrageous daytime talk show personalities.

Following supporting roles in TV movie dramas "Oprah Winfrey Presents: David and Lisa" (ABC, 1998) and the fact-based "Witness to the Mob" (NBC, 1998), where she offered a strong portrait of the wife of a gangster, Mazar was cast in the revamped second season of the NBC sitcom, "Working" (NBC, 1997-99), though her addition as a sharp-tongued office employee was not enough to save the flagging series. Regardless of any failed projects, Mazar was making a name for herself in a different way. With her dark hair and crimson-painted lips, the actress stood out from other fashionistas on the red carpet, due in large part to her unique, vintage style. She was frequently singled out for a look all her own that combined retro hairstyles, makeup and jewelry with modern frocks. Back on screen, Mazar appeared in the Academy Award-nominated tobacco industry expose "The Insider" (1999) and her streetwise persona was again tapped for the mob heist "More Dogs than Bones" (2000) and the CBS series "That's Life" (CBS, 2000-02), where she spent two seasons playing wisecracking, advice-dispensing hair salon owner Jackie O'Grady. Off-screen, Mazar married Italian musician Gabriele Corcos and gave birth to her first child in 2002. Splitting her time between homes in New York and Tuscany limited Mazar's screen work over the next few years to guest spots on "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), "7th Heaven" (WB, 1996-2006; The CW, 2006-07), and "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004).

From a recurring role on the Will Smith/Jada Pinkett Smith-created sitcom "All of Us" (UPN, 2003-06; The CW, 2006-07), Mazar went on to find a regular TV role perfectly suited to her honking "New Yawk" attitude - as the outspoken Hollywood publicist Shauna in the freewheeling HBO comedy, "Entourage" (2004- ). Meanwhile, she spiced up small roles in films such as "Collateral" (2004) and "Be Cool" (2004) and held down a recurring role on the short-lived Fran Drescher sitcom, "Living with Fran" (2005-06). Mazar appeared in the female ensemble cast of the unsuccessful remake of "The Women" (2008) and enjoyed a recurring role on ABC's hit "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006- ). When her schedule allowed her to spend time at her Italian home with her husband and family, Mazar produced an Internet cooking show called "Under the Tuscan Gun." Mazar returned for a fifth season on "Entourage" in the fall of 2009, concurrently appearing as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).