Family & Companions
From Playboy centerfold to author of best-selling parenting books, Jenny McCarthy enjoyed one of Hollywood's more unusual career trajectories. While appearing on popular shows on MTV in the 1990s, legions of fans fell head over heels for the blue-eyed blonde's unladylike penchant for scatological humor and her fearless, unbridled goofiness. That appeal was not enough to draw steady audiences to her short-lived NBC prime time sitcom "Jenny," but nonetheless she was tapped for feature film appearances in broad fare like "Scream 3" (2000) and "Scary Movie 3" (2003), which generally banked on her tightly-clad physique. After chronicling her pregnancy and birth in a pair of well-received "tell-it-like-it-is" books, McCarthy's son was diagnosed with autism; she became an ardent activist on the vexing disease, earning a new kind of respect for her passion in getting to the bottom of one of the most puzzling medical issues of the day.
The second of four daughters raised by a steel mill worker and beautician on Chicago's South Side, Jenny McCarthy was born on Nov. 1, 1972. Her sisters were all highly accomplished athletes but McCarthy was the family ham, harboring dreams of a showbiz career from the time she was young. After high school, she chose to pursue nursing and psychology at the University of Southern Illinois, but ran out of tuition money after her second year. After an unsuccessful attempt to make money as a model - she was told she was too voluptuous to work the runways - McCarthy approached Playboy magazine as a last-ditch effort. Within a few months, she was Miss October (1993) and went on to earn the title of "Playmate of the Year." With her earnings - about $100,000 - she headed to L.A. to pursue a career in entertainment.
In Hollywood, McCarthy landed a gig as the host of the Playboy Channel's "Hot Rocks" music-video show before MTV hired her and her equal parts witty banter and outgoing personality to co-host the dating show "Singled Out" (MTV, 1995-97). Her presence on MTV established her unusual contrast of blonde sex appeal with rowdy and obnoxious personality; one prone to making grotesque faces, burps and other such business. With no one else like her on the air, the earthy and gorgeous McCarthy became an almost overnight sensation, leading MTV to put her to work on other shows including, "Beach House."
In 1997, the network offered her a sketch-comedy series, "The Jenny McCarthy Show" (MTV, 1996), in which she was given carte blanche. While McCarthy cited Lucille Ball and Goldie Hawn as two of her influences, it would be hard to imagine either comedienne eating their own vomit or displaying extra long armpit hair for laughs. Despite her low-brow tendencies, NBC penned McCarthy to a development deal, resulting in the sitcom "Jenny" (NBC, 1997-98), which starred the comic as a small-town girl who moves to Hollywood. The show received mixed critical and audience reception and was cancelled after one season. McCarthy returned to the Playboy realm, appearing on its cover in September of 1997 and that same year, also released an autobiography, Jen X.
Whatever lackluster projects McCarthy unleashed on the viewing public at large, she always maintained a steady following of young males. Her forays into feature films seemed to cater to that audience, and the obviously capable comedian squelched her chances at a legitimate movie career with outings like "The Stupids" (1996), co-starring Tom Arnold, and "BASEketball" (1998) opposite "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Perhaps her best role to date was as Sugar, a working girl in a Las Vegas brothel in the Kirk Douglas starrer "Diamonds" (1999). During filming, McCarthy began a relationship with the film's director, John Asher, and the pair was married that fall. The next year, she appeared as a haughty actress - one of the latest victims of the Ghostface Killer - in the popular horror sequel "Scream 3" (2000). McCarthy stayed in the public eye with regular appearances on sitcoms like "Just Shoot Me" (NBC, 1997-2003) and "Charmed" (WB, 1998-2006), and, in 2002, she gave birth to a son, Evan.
After a predictably low-brow appearance opposite fellow Playmate-turned-star Pamela Anderson in "Scary Movie 3" (2003), McCarthy humorously recounted her pregnancy experience with the bestselling book Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth (2004). The book finally tipped the scales of McCarthy's following and she won over a sizeable number of female fans who appreciated her humorous straight talk about motherhood. The popular follow-up, Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth about the First Year of Mommyhood, was released in 2004.
McCarthy returned to TV with a starring role in another sassy but short-lived sitcom, "The Bad Girls' Guide" (UPN, 2005) before teaming up with husband Asher to write and produce the indie feature "Dirty Love" (2005). The universally reviled gross-out-style comedy starred McCarthy as a photographer who dates an assortment of weirdos and losers to annoy her studly ex. She continued to demonstrate her willingness to do just about anything to get a laugh, including a maxipad-related sequence that would give even the Farrelly Brothers pause. Shortly before the movie hit theaters in the fall of 2005, McCarthy announced her split from Asher.
Not long after, McCarthy was frequently sighted with A-list comic actor Jim Carrey, and in 2006 the couple came forward with confirmation of their romantic relationship. McCarthy addressed her latest personal evolution with the release of Life Laughs: The Naked Truth about Motherhood, Marriage, and Moving On (2006). She then received some of the best acting reviews of her career for her starring role as the thoroughly modern executive daughter of Santa Claus in the ABC Family television pic, "Santa Baby" (2006). She had likewise received notice for standing out among the weak cast of the dark teen comedy "John Tucker Must Die" earlier in the year, playing her first mom role.
Off-screen, McCarthy's mom role remained her focus, and she eventually revealed that her son had been diagnosed with autism. McCarthy became a voice for parents with children suffering from the neuro-immune disorder, and was in a position to offer hope after finding simple, little-known treatments that cured her son. She became a spokesperson for TACA (Talking About Curing Autism), and in addition to her fundraising and awareness initiatives, she wrote another well-received book chronicling her son's struggle and healing, Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism (2007). Sadly, McCarthy's effective work on behalf of parenting and autism issues was counterbalanced by her continued appearances in cheesecake roles in sub-par movies. "Witless Protection" (2008), starring Larry the Cable Guy, marked a new low in her string of lackluster comedies, scoring an astounding 0% positive reviews on RottenTomatoes.com.
While popping up occasionally in a recurring role on the popular sitcom "Two and a Half Men" (CBS, 2003-15), McCarthy also starred in the TV movie "Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe" (2009). In 2010, she split from Carrey and subsequently became a talk-show regular, with appearances on almost every production under the daytime sun. McCarthy subsequently took over hosting the reality series "Love in the Wild" (NBC, 2011-12), and later snagged her own talk series "The Jenny McCarthy Show" (VH1, 2013). As if that momentum wasn't enough, she hit a new career high point in July 2013, when it was announced that she would be joining the hit women-centric talk show "The View" (ABC, 1997- ) as a co-host. However, continued controversy about McCarthy's past statements on autism and vaccinations dogged her tenure on the show, and viewership began to decline. Weeks after Barbara Walters retired from the show, network executives performed a housecleaning among the on-air talent, letting go of both McCarthy and co-host Sherri Shepherd in June 2014. On August 30, 2014, McCarthy married actor Donnie Wahlberg in New York, after the pair announced their engagement on an episode of "The View."
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
First appearance in Playboy (Miss October)
Named Playboy Playmate of the Year
Moved to Los Angeles and hosted "Hot Rocks," a Playboy TV show featuring uncensored music videos
Co-hosted MTV's dating game show "Singled Out"
Played Christopher Walken's private nurse in "Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead"
Hosted the ABC special "Extreme Comedy"
Played small role in the John Landis comedy "The Stupids"
Headlined MTV's sketch comedy show "The Jenny McCarthy Show"
Wrote first book, her autobiography titled Jen-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book
Played the title role of a girl inheriting a residence in Hollywood on the short-lived NBC sitcom "Jenny"
Starred with the creators of "South Park" in the comedy spoof "BASEketball"
Played a brothel employee in "Diamonds," directed by then husband John Asher
Appeared in Wes Craven's "Scream 3"
Co-starred with Pamela Anderson in the third installment of the Scary Movie spoof "Scary Movie 3"
Published the best-selling book Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth
Cast in starring role on the short-lived UPN comedy "The Bad Girl's Guide"
Made debut as a writer and producer with "Dirty Love"; also starred and was directed by her then husband John Asher
Hosted the E! reality show "Party at the Palms," filmed at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, NV
Published third book Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth About the First Year of Mommyhood
Starred in the ABC Family original movie "Santa Baby"
Voiced Six in season three of "Tripping the Rift" on the Sci Fi Channel
Wrote fourth book Life Laughs: The Naked Truth about Motherhood, Marriage, and Moving On
Guest starred on CBS' "Two and a Half Men" as Courtney the crazy con-artist
Co-starred with Chelsea Handler and Leah Remini in the five episode web series "In The Motherhood"
Published the books Louder Than Words and Mother Warriors about her experiences dealing with her son's Autism
Co-wrote Healing and Preventing Autism with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel
Reprised starring role in the ABC Family sequel "Santa Baby 2"
Wrote the book Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance
Hosted the NBC dating competition series "Love in the Wild"
Hosted "The Jenny McCarthy Show"
Joined "The View"