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Alison Sweeney Biography

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Birth Name: Alison Sweeney
Born: 09/19/1976
Birth Place: Pasadena, California, USA

Born on Sept. 19, 1976, the Pasadena, CA native grew up in a creative and musical family which included a mother who was an accomplished studio violinist. Sweeney made her television debut in a national commercial for Kodak when she was four years old. She soon took on speaking roles in episodic TV shows such as "Simon & Simon" (CBS, 1981-88) "Webster" (ABC, 1983-89) "Tales from the Darkside" (syndicated, 1984-88) and "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88). Ironically, Sweeney's first gig on "Days of Our Lives" (NBC, 1965- ) during the late 1980s was not as Sami Brady - but as a young Adrienne Johnson in flashback. In only a few years, the more matured actress would make a triumphant return to the soap that would put her name on the map.

In 1993, Sweeney tested for and won the core family character, Samantha Gene "Sami" Brady, daughter of Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall). Through the course of her teen years and beyond, Sami dealt with bulimia, date rape and teen pregnancy, but her character was nobody's victim. She became more "the girl you loved to hate" but begrudgingly liked because she was so over the top. Some of Sami's most memorable bits: kidnapping her baby half-sister Belle; drugging hunky Austin Reed, the objective of her obsession, into bed; lying that Austin was the father of her son, Will The list went on and on. Viewers could not ascertain who was crazier - Sami or her devil-possessed mother, Marlene.

When head writer James E. Reilly left the show in the late 1990s, the new writers curbed Sami's evil ways, playing on the audience's sympathies by sending her to death row and having her lose her true love Austin (again) at the altar. When Reilly returned to the soap in 2003, Sami's wicked ways resurfaced to her fans' delight. While many of her fellow actress co-stars opted to leave (or were written off) "Days" over the years, Sweeney's over 10-year run remained uninterrupted, except for a brief maternity leave in 2005. The actress so inhabited her role that "Days" executives decided not to bring on a temporary fill-in actress when Sweeney took time off to be with her new baby. Instead, actor Dan Wells took on the part and Sami went undercover as a man!

While remaining a staple of the Salem-based soap, Sweeney managed to build her acting resume, appearing on TV series such as "American Dreams" (NBC, 2002-05) and "Las Vegas" (NBC, 2003- ), both in 2004. She spoofed herself as the fictional daytime star "Jessica Ashley" on a 2001 episode of "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), "The One with J y's Award," in which she presents a soap award to Matt LeBlanc's J y Tribbiani. As herself, Sweeney also appeared on several talk and game shows, even winning the celebrity version of NBC's "Weakest Link" in 2002.

Through the years, Sweeney's portrayal of Salem's resident bad girl won her numerous fan awards including four Soap Opera Digest Awards (1996, '98, '99 and 2001) and - in an overwhelming show of fan support - a 2002 Daytime Emmy for "America's Favorite Villain." The actress also penned her autobiography All the Days of My Life (So Far), which was published in 2004. Earning critical raves for her freshman effort, Sweeney shared with fans her painful high school memories, past "Days" storylines, and most important, her struggle to lose and keep off weight - something Sweeney grew up battling in front of America.

Her honesty and sense of humor about the weight struggles led to a second career for Sweeney, replacing Caroline Rhea as host of NBC's globally successful weight-loss contest, "The Biggest Loser" (NBC, 2004- ), starting in 2007. Sweeney was very vocal that she wanted to be a cheerleader and supportive voice, rather than a Simon Cowell-style put-down artist, and her warm onscreen rapport with the contestants won the actress additional fans. She also began what would become a yearly commitment, serving as one of the hosts of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon (WNEW-TV, 1966-67; syndicated, 1968- ).

Schooled in the "get-it-done, get-it-done-on-time" ethos of soap operas, Sweeney made headlines in January 2009 by proving just what a dedicated professional she was, shooting episodes right up until the birth of her second child, then returning to the "The Biggest Loser" set a short time later. NBC showed their appreciation by giving her a juicy guest role on the hospital drama "Mercy" (NBC, 2009-10) and extending their professional relationship with the multi-hyphenate.