Family & Companions
A self-assured performer with a feisty onscreen persona, actress Holly Marie Combs broke through as Tom Skeritt's daughter on the critically acclaimed series, "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96). Prior to her breakthrough role, Combs struggled to find her footing with bit parts in "Sweet Hearts Dance" (1988) and "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), while making strides in TV on daytime soaps like , "Guiding Light" (CBS, 1952-2009) and "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956-2010). After four brilliant seasons on "Picket Fences," Combs did not have to wait long before landing her next hit series, "Charmed" (The WB, 1998-2006), where she played one of three sister witches living in modern-day San Francisco. The show was a hit with both audiences and critics, allowing Combs steady work for a solid eight seasons. During her time on "Charmed," the actress segued over to producing and applied the skill to other projects once the series went off the air. By the time she had a supporting role on another popular series, "Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family, 2010-17), Combs had established herself as one of the small screen's top unsung talents.
Born Dec. 3, 1973 in San Diego, CA, Combs was raised by her mother, Laralei Berckhem Combs, who was only 15 years old at the time of her daughter's birth. Though Combs' mother and father tried to make ends meet, the young couple split after only two years of marriage. After moving around, the eight-year-old Combs moved with her mother - who was an aspiring actress and singer - to New York City, where she attended the Professional Children's School. Landing print ads and a number of commercials by the age of 10, Combs followed in her mother's footsteps, deciding to pursue acting even further. As a teenager, she scored her first major role, portraying the daughter of Don Johnson and Susan Sarandon in the feature "Sweet Hearts Dance" (1988). Combs quickly followed up with a number of small roles in major films, playing a young girl propositioned by a wheelchair-bound Tom Cruise in Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), while also appearing as a party guest in the Francis Ford Coppola-directed segment of "New York Stories" (1989).
Having broken into features, Combs made her debut on the small screen with two episodes of the daytime soap, "Guiding Light" (CBS, 1952-2009), and followed up with a small arc on "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956-2010). Back in features, she had her first major part in Hal Hartley's "Simple Men" (1992), while starring in the critically-panned and little-seen slasher flick "Dr. Giggles" (1992). But Combs' first real break came when she was 18 years old and cast as Kimberly Brock on the Emmy Award-winning dramatic series, "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96). Although show creator David E. Kelley did not initially think Combs was right for the part, it was eventually rewritten for her, a move that proved successful for all parties. Portraying the teenage daughter of Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker for four seasons, Combs received critical praise as well as a Young Artist Award for her performance. During her time on "Picket Fences," Combs made her TV movie debut in "Danielle Steel's 'A Perfect Stranger'" (NBC, 1994) and went on to play a rape victim who is protected by a nun (Lindsay Wagner) in "Sins of Silence" (CBS, 1996).
After "Picket Fences" was off the air, Combs landed a 1997 episode of the short-lived drama series, "Relativity" (ABC, 1996-97), before portraying real-life murderer Diane Zamora, a former Navy midshipman convicted of killing a romantic rival, in "Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder" (NBC, 1997). Following a turn as the daughter of a murdered heiress in the fact-based drama "Daughters" (1997), Combs was the star of another popular show, "Charmed" (The WB, 1998-2006), a supernatural drama mixed with campy humor about three sister witches struggling to hide their powers while living everyday lives in San Francisco. Combs played Piper Halliwell, the down-to-earth middle sister to Shannen Doherty's elder Prue Halliwell and Alyssa Milano's younger Phoebe. Though behind-the-scenes tensions between Doherty and Milano drove the former to leave the series after the third season, Rose McGowan was soon brought in as her replacement, with the chemistry between McGowan, Combs and Milano proving to be a highly successful formula for the remainder of the run. On the show for its entire eight seasons, Combs served as a producer from season five all the way to the end. Following a cameo as herself in "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), Combs ended her "Charmed" run in 2008, but quickly landed another regular series, playing the mother of an artsy girl (Lucy Hale) whose teen clique falls apart after the disappearance of their queen bee in "Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family, 2010- ).
By Shawn Dwyer
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to New York with her mother
Feature film debut, "Sweet Hearts Dance"
TV series debut in recurring role, "Picket Fences"
TV-movie debut, "Danielle Steel's 'A Perfect Stranger'" (NBC)
Portrayed real-life convicted killer Diane Zamora in the NBC TV-movie "Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder"
Returned to series TV as co-star of "Charmed" (The WB)
Took on a recurring role on the series "Pretty Little Liars"
Joined the cast of the series "Off the Map"