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Rebecca Gayheart

Rebecca Gayheart

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: August 12, 1971 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Hazard, Kentucky, USA Profession: actor, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Model-turned-actress Rebecca Gayheart first came to national prominence as "The Noxzema Girl," the pretty, fresh-faced spokesmodel for Noxzema brand skin products. Blessed with wholesome beauty, a flawless complexion, and a trademark mane of extremely curly hair, the photogenic Gayheart quit modeling in the mid-90s to try her hand at acting. As with many a young ingénue before her, Gayheart started her career in daytime before graduating to primetime, culminating in her biggest role then to date, as Luke Perry's doomed Mafia bride on "Beverly Hills, 90201" (Fox, 1990-2000). By decade's end, Gayheart had accumulated an impressive list of television credits and seemed well on her way. Unfortunately, the actress's promising career was badly derailed in 2001 as the result of a personal tragedy. Thankfully, Gayheart would persevere and following a tragic accident, find personal happiness in a high-profile marriage to Dr. McSteamy himself, actor Eric Dane of "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ) before the couple split in 2018. A real-life Kentucky coal miner's daughter, Rebecca Gayheart was born on Aug. 12, 1971. The product of Irish, Italian, German and Cherokee Indian heritage, Gayheart moved to New York City...

Model-turned-actress Rebecca Gayheart first came to national prominence as "The Noxzema Girl," the pretty, fresh-faced spokesmodel for Noxzema brand skin products. Blessed with wholesome beauty, a flawless complexion, and a trademark mane of extremely curly hair, the photogenic Gayheart quit modeling in the mid-90s to try her hand at acting. As with many a young ingénue before her, Gayheart started her career in daytime before graduating to primetime, culminating in her biggest role then to date, as Luke Perry's doomed Mafia bride on "Beverly Hills, 90201" (Fox, 1990-2000). By decade's end, Gayheart had accumulated an impressive list of television credits and seemed well on her way. Unfortunately, the actress's promising career was badly derailed in 2001 as the result of a personal tragedy. Thankfully, Gayheart would persevere and following a tragic accident, find personal happiness in a high-profile marriage to Dr. McSteamy himself, actor Eric Dane of "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ) before the couple split in 2018. A real-life Kentucky coal miner's daughter, Rebecca Gayheart was born on Aug. 12, 1971. The product of Irish, Italian, German and Cherokee Indian heritage, Gayheart moved to New York City at the age of 15, where she completed her education at New York's Professional Children's School. An alumni of the famed Lee Strasberg Institute, Gayheart got her big acting break in 1993, when she landed the role of the beautiful but emotionally disturbed temptress Hannah Mayberry on the daytime sudser, "Loving" (ABC, 1983-1995). Gayheart's Hannah stalked college professors as her favored prey and became one of the most delicious fixtures in the soap's last two seasons. Hot off her daytime success - and with her famous Noxzema ads featured prominently on TV and in print at that time - Gayheart was poised for the leap to primetime. In 1995, Gayheart won a recurring role on the iconic Fox hit, "Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990-2000) as Dylan (Luke Perry) McKay's long-awaited soul mate (and eventual bride) Toni Marchette. A popular character with "90210" fans, Gayheart's Toni quickly won the hearts of viewers, before being tragically killed off eight episodes later, taking a brutal mob hit meant for Dylan. The reason, as it turned out, was that actor Luke Perry had been itching to leave "90210" to pursue the clichéd film career; so, rather than kill off the extremely popular Dylan, producers compromised by providing him an open-ended exit storyline in which he would take an extended leave of absence to avenge his bride's murder. In other words, Toni Marchette's demise was planned from the very get-go. The dawn of the new millennium saw Gayheart's star continuing to rise, with roles in such popular teen feature films as "Scream 2" (1997) and "Urban Legend" (1998). She was also briefly cast as a series regular on the well-received, but short-lived WB drama, "WasteL.A.nd" (1999) - an ensemble drama created by "Scream" screenwriter Kevin Williamson. Unfortunately, Gayheart's personal and professional life both took a precipitously downward turn at the same time she was enjoying a certain level of post "90210" success. In the summer of 2001, Gayheart struck and subsequently killed a nine-year-old boy named Jorge Cruz Jr. as the latter was walking home from school. According to police reports, Cruz had crossed the street about 150 to 175 feet from the nearest crosswalk. While several cars stopped to let him pass, Gayheart reportedly swerved around them and turned directly into a two-way left-turn lane. In her impatience, Gayheart struck the Cruz boy with her car. Suffering from critical internal injuries, young Cruz died the next day at Los Angeles Children's Hospital. The boy's parents subsequently filed a wrongful death suit against Gayheart. In restitution, Gayheart agreed to pay for Cruz's hospital and funeral expenses and pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter on Nov. 27, 2001. The actress was sentenced to three years probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine, and 750 hours of community service. Represented by high-profile Hollywood lawyer Harland Braun (who also defended actor Robert Blake), Gayheart's sweetheart deal was viewed by many critics as merely a slap on the wrist. To make matters worse, on the heels of this embarrassing mea culpa, Gayheart returned to the headlines later that year following yet another unfortunate auto accident in which she flipped her rental car into two parked vehicles. Luckily, no one was injured or killed this time and no charges were filed. After a long and humbling dry spell, horizons looked significantly brighter for Gayheart by mid-decade. In 2004, Gayheart won a recurring role on the critically acclaimed drama "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 2003-10). Cast in the show's second season as a beautiful blind patient named Rebecca Charles, Gayheart's disarmingly sensual character became a romantic interest for Julian McMahon's Dr. Christian Troy. Though her storyline concluded that season, Gayheart's character (who was eventually cured of her blindness) was brought back for the show's fourth season to add some much-needed romantic spice. Gayheart's personal life also underwent a positive transformation that year. In October of 2004, Gayheart married her boyfriend of nine months, fellow actor Eric Dane, while vacationing in Las Vegas, NV. So spontaneous was the couple's decision to wed, a taxi driver was recruited to serve as Dane's best man. Though the less famous of the two at the time of their nuptials, groom Dane would later go on to gain fame as the sexy Dr. Mark Sloan (a.k.a. "Dr. McSteamy") on the über-hit "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ), thrusting Gayheart proudly into the role of Mrs. McSteamy in the press. Gayheart largely retired from acting following her marriage, appearing in the TV movies "The Christmas Blessing" (CBS 2005) and "Scarlett" (2006) and appearing in a small recurring role in the single-season drama "Vanished" (Fox 2006). A small role in the teen comedy "G.B.F." (2013) and a co-starring role in the crime thriller "Grey Lady" (2017) were the scope of her film roles prior to Dane filing for divorce in February 2016.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Grey Lady (2017)
2.
 G.B.F. (2013)
4.
 Pipe Dream (2002) Marliss Funt
5.
 Harvard Man (2001) Kelly
6.
 Doppelganger (2001)
7.
 Too Smooth (2000) Jennifer
8.
 Shadow Hours (2000)
10.
 Jawbreaker (1999) Julie Freeman
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1990:
Appeared in Brett Ratner's short film "What Ever Happened to Mason Reese?"
1995:
Played the doomed bride of Dylan (Luke Perry) on "Beverly Hills, 90210" (FOX)
1997:
Re-teamed with Perry for the NBC miniseries "Robin Cook's 'Invasion'" (NBC)
1999:
Was cast as part of an ensemble on the short-lived ABC series "Wasteland"
1999:
Was featured in the black comedy "Jawbreaker"
2007:
Guest-starred on "Ugly Betty" (ABC) as Jordan, an ex-girlfriend of Alexis Meade
2004:
Appeared on three episodes of the Lifetime series "The Division"
2006:
Was cast as Judy Nash on the short-lived FOX series "Vanished"
1993:
Had a recurring role in the syndicated "Vanishing Son"
1997:
Teamed with Tim Robbins for "Nothing to Lose"
2000:
Had an uncredited role in "Urban Legends: Final Cut"
2013:
Appeared in the romantic comedy "G.B.F."
2017:
Appeared alongside husband Eric Dane in "Grey Lady"
2004:
Guest starred on the FX series "Nip/Tuck"
1998:
Co-starred in the horror film "Urban Legend"
2008:
Joined the cast of hit Broadway comedy "Boeing-Boeing" as a sexy stewardess
2005:
Starred as Shelby in the Broadway production of "Steel Magnolias"
1990:
Appeared in a series of Noxzema commercials
1994:
Played Bess Martin on the science fiction series "Earth 2" (NBC)
1991:
Played Hannah Mayberry on the ABC daytime drama "Loving"
1996:
Made her feature debut in "Someone Is Waiting"
2003:
Played a grim reaper in the Showtime series "Dead Like Me"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute: New York, New York -
Professional Children's School: New York, New York -

Notes

In August 2001, Gayheart was named in a wrongful death suit filed by the parents of a nine-year-old boy the actress allegedly struck and killed with a Jeep. (It was claimed she was talking on a cell phone while driving.) The vehicle reportedly belonged to actor Marco Leonardi.

"I am incredibly ambitious. I want to sink my teeth into a part and show what I can do, and I want it to happen now." --Rebecca Gayheart in Movieline, March 1997.

"It's something that is with me everyday, and it will be for the rest of my life."---Gayheart on the car crash that killed a young boy in 2001, to People, May 23, 2005.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Brett Ratner. Director. Directed her in the short film "What Ever Happened to Mason Reese?"; together from c. 1989 to summer 1999; reportedly reconciled in 2001.
husband:
Eric Dane. Actor. Married October 29, 2004 in Las Vegas.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Curtis Gayheart. Coal miner. Born c. 1944.
mother:
Floneva Gayheart. Cosmetics salesperson. Born c. 1948; worked for Mary Kay.

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