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|Also Known As:||Robert Lee||Died:|
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Actress Laura Elena Harring launched her career by making history as the first Latina to be crowned Miss USA in 1985. A year after her reign, she began her acting career playing Raul Julia's wife in the NBC TV-movie "The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory" (1987). Harring also landed the lead in "The Forbidden Dance" (1990), as well as a one-year stint on the daytime serial "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ). Her career officially took off, however, after she landed one of the leads in the David Lynch TV pilot, "Mulholland Dr." in 1999. When ABC passed on the project, Lynch received funding from producer Alain Sarde and StudioCanal to expand the material into a feature film, which was released to glowing reviews in 2001. From there, Harring was able to secure bigger and better projects, ever increasing her profile as an up-and-coming actress with an exquisite look and unique style.
Herring was born on March 3, 1964 and raised in Los Mochis, Mexico. After her parents' divorce and mother's remarriage, her family relocated to Texas. Shortly after settling in San Antonio, Harring was the victim of a drive-by shooting when she was 12, suffering a head wound. Following her recovery, she was educated at boarding schools in Texas and at Aiglon College Villars in Switzerland, before winding up at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She eventually traveled the world, and while working as a restaurant cashier in the Philippines, was briefly detained by her love-smitten boss who had confiscated her passport. It was returned to her after her mother intervened. Returning to the United States, Harring found employment as a sales clerk in a clothing store. On a dare, she entered a local beauty pageant and won. One pageant led to another and she eventually represented Texas in the Miss USA contest.
When she was called upon to crown her successor, a sharp-eyed produced noticed her charisma and beauty and offered her a chance to act in a TV-movie. Harring made her feature acting debut in the forgettable horror sequel, "Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!" (1989), and followed it up with the role of a Brazilian woman out to introduce the Lambada to American audiences in the cheesy "Dirty Dancing" (1987) rip-off, "The Forbidden Dance." After her stint on "General Hospital," she was still relegated to less than stellar fare, like the direct-to-video release, "Dead Women in Lingerie" (1990). Garry Marshall tapped her to play a sultry tour guide of the titular sexual haven in "Exit to Eden" (1994) and she briefly returned to the world of daytime when she joined the NBC serial "Sunset Beach" in 1997, starring as policewoman Paula Stevens. Unhappy with the development of her character's storyline, she opted out of the daytime world.
In 1999, Harring was on to bigger and better things, landing what she had hoped would be her breakthrough - the part of a mysterious amnesiac who is befriended by a perky aspiring actress in Lynch's proposed TV series, "Mulholland Dr." While she had to bide her time until the project found its ultimate form as a typical Lynchian film, Harring eventually earned a career-making payoff. As Rita - who takes her name from Rita Hayworth - Harring delivered a terrific, dreamlike and sensual turn, nicely playing off co-star Naomi Watts. Even when the film ventured into oddball territory, she managed to hold the audience's attention. Between the re-shoots and the film's ultimate premiere at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, the actress continued to remain busy, scoring a supporting role in the Adam Sandler comedy "Little Nicky" (2000) and a turn as the mother who fled Cuba with her son in the Fox docudrama, "The Elian Gonzalez Story" (2000). Following her work as the femme fatale in "Mulholland Dr.," Harring was cast - in her words - as a "trashy, suburban character" in the big screen action drama "John Q" (2002).
The following year, she was cast in the rat-themed horror remake "Willard," which starred Crispin Glover as the title character. In "The Punisher" (2004) - the second big-screen adaptation of Marvel Comics' gun-toting anti-hero - Harring was again a lovely vision onscreen and displayed a provocative and simmering chemistry with co-star John Travolta while playing his villainous character's wife, Livia Saint. Indeed, the film initially seemed to promise that Harring would end up as evil, or worse, as Travolta, but the script ultimately did not deliver. After a turn opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in "The King" (2005), she joined the cast of FX's gritty police drama, "The Shield" in a recurring role as a defense attorney for wrongly-accused Detective Curtis "Lemonhead" Lemansky (Kenneth Johnson), who constantly clashes with Strike Team leader Vic Macky (Michael Chiklis) over his lies and deceptions. Meanwhile, she made a return to features with "Nancy Drew" (2007), playing a murdered actress whose death is investigated by a quirky tweener detective (Emma Roberts) newly relocated to cliquey Hollywood High.
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