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Holly Marie Combs - Biography & Career

Holly Marie Combs was born December 3, 1973, in San Diego, California. At the time of her birth, her 15-year-old mother and 17-year-old father quit school to marry, only to divorce two years later. At the age of 8, Holly Marie moved to New York City with her mother, Lauralei, who had hopes of being an actress and a singer. Soon Holly Marie was appearing in print and television ads, so when her new stepfather moved into their cramped studio apartment when she was 12, he had two aspiring actresses on his hands.

Holly Marie became increasingly committed to her pursuits, and gained her Screen Actors Guild card for her minor role in 1985's Walls of Glass, which also featured her mother. Small roles gradually came along, most notably 1988's Sweet Hearts Dance, in which she played the on-screen daughter of Don Johnson and Susan Sarandon, and a part in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July, starring Tom Cruise. Despite indications of great things to come, Holly Marie would not go on to find her greatest success on the silver screen.

By all accounts, Combs' big breakthrough was her role as Kimberly Brock on CBS's Picket Fences, from 1992 to 1996. The story of her audition illustrates Holly Marie's gutsy attitude. Star producer David E. Kelley (the man behind shows like Ally McBeal and The Practice) told her that she did not have "a big enough heart" to play Kimberly. Having just come off the subway, Holly Marie replied, "if you're looking for someone with a big heart, what the hell are you doing in New York?" Two weeks later, she got the job.

Her Picket Fences character, Kimberly Brock, was admired for being an earnest teen; the role won Holly Marie a Young Actors Award for Best Young Actress in a New Television Series in 1993 and no doubt influenced her being cast in a string of films and TV movies during her Picket Fences tenure. Between 1992 and 1996, she appeared in small-budget films like Simple Men, Dr. Giggles, Chain of Desire, A Reason to Believe, and, on television, in A Perfect Stranger and Sins of Silence.

Coinciding with her uncommonly mature career management skills was a marriage that Holly Marie has since characterized as somewhat youthfully idealistic and naive. In 1993, she met and dated actor Bryan Smith, and the two eloped in Las Vegas a short while later. The marriage lasted four years.

Despite the ups and downs of her love life (she was also engaged to Storm Lyndon, but they broke up before heading to the altar), her career was on the steady up-and-up. It was best friend Shannen Doherty who effectively brought Holly Marie to Charmed, a new series about three young witch sisters, in 1998. Many scoffed at the premise but the show has proven itself, now in its fifth very successful season. (In 2000, Doherty left and was replaced by Rose McGowan.)

The popularity of the WB's Charmed has cemented Combs' success and reputation. It has also brought her an impressive cash flow (she reportedly earns $60,000 an episode) and the inspiration to expand her talents beyond acting, as she signed on as producer in 2002. She also made a cameo appearance in 2001's Ocean's Eleven, in the scene where Brad Pitt's character teaches young celebs to play poker.

Outside her acting career, Combs has become an active supporter of Thursday's Child, a charity for teenage runaways, and a spokesperson for breast cancer awareness. She lives in the three-bedroom Spanish-style house in the San Fernando Valley that she used to share with boyfriend David W. Donoho (a key grip on Charmed; they have since broken up), only now her roommates are limited to her 17 pets. She is an avid horseback rider and a gardening enthusiast, and she drives a pickup truck. So yes, she's pretty much your average gorgeous, animal-hoarding, heartbreaking, Hollywood-defying witch.