Marissa Jaret Winokur

Active - 1999 - 2014  |   Born - Feb 2, 1973 in Bedford Village, New York, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Singer/dancer/actress Marissa Jaret Winokur achieved celebrity on the basis of her stage work, by originating the role of Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway production of the musical Hairspray (based, in turn, on the 1988 John Waters film of the same title). The daughter of an architect, raised with three siblings in Bedford Village, NY, Winokur first revealed a passion for entertaining when she caught a Connecticut regional production of Meet Me in St. Louis at age eight, subsequently memorized the entire show, and later declared Ethel Merman as one of her chief role models. After attending Bedford Village's Fox Lane High School, Winokur attended Manhattan's prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy, then joined the touring company of Grease (performing as Pink Lady Jan). Scattered bit parts in movies followed, including Never Been Kissed (1999), American Beauty (1999), and Scary Movie (2000); Hairspray, however, represented Winokur's big breakthrough when it premiered in the late summer of 2002. She starred in that production opposite Harvey Fierstein, Laura Bell Bundy, and others, and it paved the way for an eminent acting career.

Winokur followed this with an upsurge in television activity -- first with a part as a coffee-counter employee on the short-lived Pamela Anderson sitcom Stacked (2005-2006), then as a contestant on season six of the reality series Dancing With the Stars (where Winokur danced with partner Tony Dovolani). She became the host of Dance Your Ass Off, and a member of The Talk, a daytime series modeled on The View.

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  • Made her Broadway debut in 1995 as a replacement for Jan in the revival of Grease.
  • Featured in small but memorable roles in films including Never Been Kissed, American Beauty and Fever Pitch.
  • Created the role of Tracy Turnblad, a plump teen who shakes things up on a TV dance show in 1962 Baltimore, in the 2002 Broadway musical Hairspray.
  • Was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to undergo a hysterectomy months before appearing in Hairspray. She initially kept her illness a secret out of fear that she would be replaced in the musical.
  • Appeared on the short-lived TV comedy Stacked, which starred Pamela Anderson. Winokur's husband, Judah Miller, was a writer for the series.
  • Competed in Season 6 of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, with partner Tony Dovolani.
  • Was one of the original six co-hosts of CBS's The Talk (2010), but left the show in 2011.
  • In 2012, she dieted and dropped more than 60 pounds.