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Kirsten Storms

Loren Dean

Devon Sawa

Kelly Monaco Biography

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Birth Name: Kelly Monaco
Born: 05/23/1976
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Born in Philadelphia on May 23, 1976 to an Italian-Catholic family, Monaco grew up in the peaceful Pokonos, where along with her five sisters, she excelled in soccer, swimming, softball and other sports - though, ironically, not dance. A proud competitor from birth, Monaco also participated in high school speech, debate and theater. The dark-haired beauty yearned to act professionally and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1990s to pursue her dreams of stardom.

Like many pretty girls trying to break into the biz, Monaco posed nude for Playboy, earning Playmate of the Month status in April, 1997. Like all dutiful centerfolds, Monaco's first experience in front of a moving camera was starring in numerous Playboy-produced home videos including gems like "Playboy: Video Playmate Calendar 1998" (1997) and "Playboy: Girls Next Door" (1997). In 1989, Monaco landed her first real acting role during the 1997-98 season of "Baywatch," playing a rookie lifeguard. Having been a lifeguard in real life, her toned athleticism came in handy on set for the first, but certainly not last, time.

Monaco's streak continued when she scored minor roles in the feature films "BASEketball" (1998), "Idle Hands" (1999) and "Mumford" (1999). She continued to appear in Playboy videos such as "Playboy: Babes of Baywatch" (1998) -- her loyalty to her first employer obvious. In 1999, Monaco landed her dream part at that time--Olivia "Livvie" Locke Morley on the "General Hospital" soap opera spin-off, "Port Charles" (1997-2003). She took on a second role, that of Tess Ramsey, during the 2002-03 season. Her skill in playing dual roles earned Monaco a Daytime Emmy Award nomination in 2003 for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Although she did not win, her looks, talent and already built-in fan base served her well when the low-rated spin-off was cancelled later that year. ABC knew they had a potential star in their midst, so in September, 2003, they cast Monaco immediately on their flagship soap, "General Hospital" (1963- )--a canny career move, as many stars had used the legendary daytime drama as a springboard to fame, including Demi Moore, Ricky Martin, John Stamos, Rick Springfield and Amber Tamblyn.

Playing reformed bad girl, Samantha "Sam" McCall, Monaco filled a dark-haired vixen role that had remained vacant since the departure of fan favorite, Vanessa Marcil (Brenda Barrett) five years before. Although tough shoes to fill, Monaco did so with apparent ease. Fans latched onto the new face and the chemistry she ignited--like Marcil before her--with the soap's biggest stud, gangster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Bernard). In an unusual move, "GH" producers cast her in dual roles yet again. In addition to McCall, Monaco also portrayed Alicia Montenegro.

In early 2005, Monaco signed on as a contestant for a celebrity dance competition series to air in the summer on ABC. The premise: minor celebrities who are willing to learn to dance and quite possibly look foolish in front of millions, couple up with professional hoofers, while America votes. Learning to dance and look good doing it drove Monaco to reach back and draw on that competitive high school spirit. Dancing opposite her partner, Alec Mazo, Monaco appeared frazzled and gangly during her first performance, causing the judges to harshly critique her moves. Undaunted by neither her initial stumble nor her diminutive 5' 3" height, Monaco improved each week while other perceived shoe-ins got the ax.

Monaco suffered her own Janet Jackson-style "wardrobe malfunction" during the quarterfinal round, when during a samba, her dress fell down off her shoulder but Monaco kept covered up and finished the dance, garnering respect from judges and viewers alike. By the second to the last episode, it came to a showdown between Monaco and actor John O'Hurley (J. Peterman of "Seinfeld" fame). In July 2005, Monaco became America's new dancing queen. Unfortunately, many assumed the contest was fixed, due to her ABC affiliation, so fans--and no doubt ABC, who smelled a profit--demanded a rematch, echoed by the seemingly competitive and cleverly showboating O'Hurley. Back to "GH" by day, dance rehearsals by night for the new star, who defended her title every chance she got in print and TV interviews. But there appeared no hard feelings between her and O'Hurley, with the latter making a ratings grabbing cameo on "GH" in the fall. Even with the rematch looming, Monaco's stock went way up. She appeared on a steamy cover of Maxim magazine, tabloids began adding her to their fashion files and "GH" even added not-so-subtle dance routines to Samantha McCall's repertoire. In September 2005, Monaco, O'Hurley and their respective partners once again tripped the light fantastic during a live program. Three days later, Monaco lost her crown to a jubilant O'Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jorgensen. No matter: "Dancing with the Stars" had put Monaco front and center. Rumors even began swirling that she might jump ship to ABC's biggest primetime hit, "Desperate Housewives," but no official word yet. Despite the loss, Monaco's growing fame seemed assured.

By Jenna Girard