American actress Jennifer Grey grew up among the sort of people who'd be her co-workers later in life. She was the granddaughter of comedian Mickey Katz and the daughter of Broadway star Joel Grey and actress Jo Wilder. Childhood dance lessons helped her get a start dancing in television commercials. After spending time with the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York, Grey appeared in the off-Broadway production Album. More theatrical experience followed. Grey made her screen debut in the 10th-billed role of Cathy Bennario in the 1984 romantic drama Reckless. That year, she also played small roles in The Cotton Club and Red Dawn. Her first real break came when she played Matthew Broderick's sister in the hit teen comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). Grey followed up that success with an even bigger one starring opposite Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (87): coincidentally, the film was set in a Catskill Mountains resort, the same kind of establishment where Grey's father and grandfather began their careers. Though her performance won her accolades, Grey subsequently experienced the all too common difficulty that many teen actors faced, attempting to enter the ream of adult acting. She would appear in a handful of films like Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) and Portraits of a Killer (1996), before finding her footing with films like Bounce and Redbelt, as well as TV series like It's Like You Know, John from Cincinnati, and The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Although she grew up in a showbiz family, her famous father forbade her from acting until she was 18.
- First professional job was a Dr Pepper commercial.
- Film debut was in 1984's Reckless.
- Big break came when she snagged the role of Frances "Baby" Houseman in 1987's Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze; she'd appeared earlier with Swayze in Red Dawn.
- Underwent a botched rhinoplasty procedure in the early 1990s that required additional surgery; the result left her virtually unrecognizable even to close friends.
- Costarred in the late '90s television series It's Like, You Know..., in which she played herself and poked fun at her celebrity status and plastic surgery.
- Appeared as a crazy love interest to real-life husband Clark Gregg in an episode of his series The New Adventures of Old Christine.
- Won season 11 of Dancing with the Stars with partner Derek Hough.