From the mid- to late '80s, slender, carrot-topped, and luscious-lipped Molly Ringwald was the reigning teen queen of mainstream films. At the peak of her popularity, Ringwald was on the cover of Time magazine and even had groups of adolescent girl fans, called "Ringlets," who would emulate her every move.
The daughter of jazzman Bob Ringwald, the leader of the Great Pacific Jazz Band, Ringwald was raised in Sacramento, CA, where she was born February 14, 1968. She started performing as a toddler, although not as an actress. She embarked on a very early and brief career as a singer after her parents discovered that she had a remarkable ability to perfectly match the tune and phrasing of almost any song she heard. Ringwald began singing jazz with her father at state fairs, and by the age of six, she already had a jazz album, I Wanna Be Loved By You--Molly Sings.
In the meantime, Ringwald began to develop an interest in acting: she was four when she started hanging around the local community theater and five when she started getting small parts, including the role of a preacher's child in Truman Capote's The Grass Harp. At the age of eight, Ringwald appeared on The New Mickey Mouse Club. Encouraged by her talent and driven by her father's desire to get better bookings for his band, Ringwald's family moved to L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. In 1979, the actress won a part on Norman Lear's sitcom The Facts of Life. Ringwald only lasted a season before she was let go, but her television work paved the way for subsequent screen roles.
In 1982, Ringwald made an auspicious film debut in Paul Mazursky's acclaimed Tempest, earning a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of John Cassavetes' daughter. In order to prepare for the role, Mazursky had Ringwald and her family move to a flat in New York's Greenwich Village to help her develop the necessary New York accent and attitude. Her performance in the film attracted the attention of screenwriter/aspiring director John Hughes who cast her as the protagonist of Sixteen Candles (1984), his wistful chronicle of suburban teenaged angst. The film was a hit, and so was Ringwald. Hughes would cast her in two more teen films, The Breakfast Club (1985) and Pretty in Pink (1986), both of which were hugely popular with teen audiences. In addition to a solid film career, Ringwald -- who had become a household name -- also occasionally appeared in television movies.
Despite her continued success through the early '90s, Ringwald felt her life had reached a crossroads; by 1992, she decided to sell her house, put her personal effects in storage, pack up seven suitcases, and exchange life in the L.A. fast lane for a more romantic existence in Paris, where she was busy shooting Seven Sundays (released in 1994). Ringwald, who had learned French while attending a French high school in Los Angeles, remained there, dividing her time between reading (she has been a voracious reader since childhood when she and her siblings would read stories to her blind father), writing short stories and screenplays, cooking, and hanging out with her French husband. She occasionally continued to act in American and internationally produced films and television projects that include George Hickenlooper's Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (1993), Stephen King's The Stand (1994), and Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999). Ringwald also continued to do stage work, appearing in an acclaimed 1998 off-Broadway production of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive. She spoofed her own iconic persona by appearing in the 2001 comedy Not Another Teen Movie, and in 2008 she was cast as the mother in the Fox Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager.