Most Hollywood child actors grow up while the whole world watches. A fine example was hardworking and talented Lacey Chabert. Best known for playing Claudia Salinger on the hit FOX network drama, "Party of Five" (1994-2000), Chabert was not alone in making her name for herself courtesy of this endearing series. The show also launched the careers of "Lost" (ABC, 2004-10) star Matthew Fox; "Ghost Whisperer" (CBS, 2004-10) lead Jennifer Love Hewitt; and Neve Campbell, who went on to big screen success with the "Scream" (1996) franchise. But it was Chabert's highly emotional preteen role of Claudia that won everyone's hearts for six seasons. The fact that the young actress later blossomed into a shapely adult beauty was also not lost on fans, who had a hard time believing their little Claudia had finally grown up - enough to adorn the cover of Maxim magazine.
Of French and Scottish decent, Lacey Nicole Chabert was born on Sept. 30, 1982 in Purvis, MS to parents Julie and Tony Chabert, the latter of whom was a Louisiana native and French-speaking Cajun. It was at a very young age that Chabert found she had a knack for performing - including as a violinist, much like her character Claudia later on - and her family supported her every step of the way. Her first taste of stardom, much like many young performers at that time, was making it to the junior vocalist category finals on the Ed McMahon-hosted "Star Search" in 1991. That experience prompted Chabert to go out for other projects, including a cough syrup commercial. The lights of Broadway soon beckoned, and Chabert found herself playing the part of young Cosette in "Les Miserables" - a part she played expertly for two years.
Like many a showbiz newbie, Chabert's first major TV appearance was on a popular soap opera - in particular, "All My Children" (1970-2013). Despite playing Bianca Montgomery for just two episodes, her heartfelt acting caught the attention of TV producers who were putting together a new show about five siblings of various ages who are left orphaned after their parents are killed in a car accident. That show - "Party of Five" - was unlike other popular teen drama series on FOX at that time. It did not have the glitz and glamour of "Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990-2000) or over-the-top cat-fighting on "Melrose Place" (1992-99). Instead, "Party of Five" focused on the casts' emotional lives, and though only 12 years of age at the show's onset, Chabert met the challenge like a seasoned pro. As the headstrong, selfish but musically talented little sister, Chabert brought the right precocious quality that gave the character a sympathetic edge. Over the course of the series' run, the actress and her character literally grew up. As she matured, Chabert (and Claudia) became less an annoyance and more of a pivotal player in the storylines. Chabert would go on to win both the 1997 and 1998 Hollywood Reporter Annual Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama TV Series.
Branching out to a new medium as well as a role requiring less angst, Chabert marked her big screen debut by appearing in the feature film remake of the popular science fiction TV series "Lost In Space" (1998). Playing Penny Robinson, Chabert held her own opposite such stars as William Hurt, Mimi Rogers and Matt LeBlanc. Voice-over acting also kept the young star busy during her "Party of Five" downtime. She traded on her musical abilities by providing the singing and speaking voice of the young "Anastasia" (1997) in the animated film. She also voiced Meg Griffin, the angst-ridden teenage daughter in the cult hit "Family Guy" (FOX, 1999-2000), but was not credited by the network. Actress Mila Kunis shared the voice role of Meg in 1999, and eventually took over the part. Chabert also voiced Eliza Thornberry for "The Wild Thornberrys" (Nickelodeon, 1998-2001), as well as the full-length feature that followed, "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" (2002). Another Nickelodeon voice role followed, "Rugrats Go Wild" (2003), where Chabert made a cameo as Eliza Thornberry.
Chabert's teen movie career started after "Party" was cancelled following an emotionally satisfying finale in 2000. A year later, she starred in both "Tart" and "Not Another Teen Movie," in the latter of which, playing Amanda Becker, a spoof of the character that her "Party of Five" co-star Hewitt had played in "Can't Hardly Wait" (2001). It was a comedic turn for the actress, but also the first of many chances to show audiences that little Claudia was growing into a lovely young woman. Chabert continued her comedic acting streak in the Eddie Murphy movie "Daddy Day Care" (2003). Returning to TV, Chabert appeared as guest star on numerous shows like "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-05) and "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC, 1995-2004).
Finally, the right post-"Party" part came here way with a little comedy no one had much expectations for - "Mean Girls" (2004) - a satiric teen comedy written for the screen by "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) alum Tina Fey. Apart from making a mega-star of lead Lindsay Lohan, the sleeper hit gave Chabert a proper comeback. Giving a hilarious performance as Gretchen Wieners, a member of the school clique The Plastics, Chabert's one-liners, colorful outfits, and her memorable catch phrase "That's so fetch," made the actress a favorite among teen girls everywhere - teens who had no prior memories of Claudia Salinger. The box office hit even won Chabert, Lohan and their fellow "Plastics" co-stars Rachel McAdams, and Amanda Seyfried the award for "Best On Screen Team" at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards.
Radically switching gears, Chabert next took on a thought-provoking role in the made-for-TV movie, "The Brooke Ellison Story" (A&E, 2004), playing the title role of the first quadriplegic to graduate from Harvard University. Legendary actor and famous quadriplegic, Christopher Reeve of "Superman" fame, directed the film from his wheelchair, with that triumphant act alone garnering the TV movie more than the usual share of movie-of-the-week PR. Critically well received on all levels, it would sadly be the last film Reeve would direct before his untimely death in 2004.
Chabert next re-teamed with "Party of Five" co-star Hewitt for a 2006 episode of the latter's hit show, "Ghost Whisperer." She also appeared in the ABC Family movie, "Hello Sister, Goodbye Life" (2006). Trying on a different genre, Chabert screamed and ran for her life as Dana Mathis in the big screen horrorfest, "Black Christmas" (2006). Taking on a new medium, Chabert even lent her voice to the role of Princess Elise in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game for Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. She continued to work in movies, including "The Lost," "In My Sleep," and back for another voice role in "2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey" - all 2007 releases. To the delight of men of all ages, Chabert pounded the final nail in the child star coffin by appearing in white underwear and not much else on the cover of the January 2007 issue of Maxim magazine.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
TV-movie debut, "A Little Piece of Heaven" (NBC)
Made stage debut as a young Cosette in "Les Misérables" on Broadway
Was a finalist on "Star Search" as a junior vocalist
Had a recurring role on the ABC daytime drama "All My Children" as Bianca Montgomery
Cast as Claudia Salinger on the FOX drama, "Party of Five"
Voiced a young Anastasia in the animated feature "Anastasia"
Lent her voice to Eliza Thornberry for the animated series "The Wild Thornberrys" on Nickelodeon
Made film debut playing Penny Robinson in the big screen adaptation of "Lost in Space"
Voiced Meg Griffin on "Family Guy" (FOX)
Again voiced Eliza Thornberry for "The Wild Thornberrys Movie"
Portrayed Brooke Ellison, the first quadriplegic to graduate from Harvard, in "The Brooke Ellison Story" (A&E), directed by Christopher Reeve before his death
Starred opposite Lindsay Lohan in the comedy "Mean Girls"
Co-starred in the teen comedy "Dirty Deeds"
Voiced Gwen Stacy on the animated series "The Spectacular Spider-Man"
Appeared in the romantic comedy, "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"
Voiced Beth on "Allen Gregory"
Played Dani Burns and other characters on "Transformers: Rescue Bots"
Returned to live-action series work as Dr. Amy Shaw on "Baby Daddy"
Voiced Zatanna on "Justice League Action"
Starred in made-for-TV romance "Love on Safari"