After spending the 1990s as a TV teen star, Melissa Joan Hart set her sights on feature films. Born and raised on Long Island, Hart began acting in TV commercials as a child. She further honed her skills in New York theater in the late '80s as the youngest member of the Circle Repertory Lab Company. Hart then broke through as a cable TV favorite (and a CableACE Award nominee) in the role of the precocious titular preteen on the Nickelodeon series Clarissa Explains It All (1991-1994). After the series ended, Hart moved to network TV stardom in 1996 as the supernaturally gifted title teen on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Maintaining her pert primetime persona while revealing her range, Hart also starred in several TV movies, including Family Reunion: A Relative Nightmare (1995), Twisted Desire (1996), The Right Connections (1997), and the college date rape drama Silencing Mary (1998). Though Hart continued to produce and star in Sabrina, she also attempted to parlay her TV fame into movie stardom with the romantic comedy Drive Me Crazy (1999). The film, however, failed to perform as well as the Britney Spears tune that gave it its title. Hart raised eyebrows that same year when she tried to shed her squeaky-clean adolescent image with a racy photo spread and interview in men's magazine Maxim. Neither gambit affected Sabrina, although Hart and the series moved from the family-oriented ABC lineup to the youth-savvy WB in 2000. She lent her vocal talents to the Batman Beyond series, and continued to work steadily in made-for-TV fare like Rent Control, Holiday in Handcuffs, and My Fake Fiance. In 2010 she teamed up with fellow former child star Joey Lawrence for TV series Melissa & Joey that ran on the ABC Family channel.
Biography by Lucia Bozzola
- Was born on Easter.
- Acting career started at the age of 4 when she did a commercial for a bathtub toy.
- Has a lazy eyelid that causes her right eye not to open as wide as the left.
- Helped found Hartbreak Films, a production company she runs with her mother and stepfather.
- Narrated 1994's Peter and the Wolf, a classical album for children.
- Siblings Elizabeth, Emily and Brian appeared in Melissa's TV series, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
- Has a tattoo of a cross on the back of her neck.
- Opened a candy shop in Sherman Oaks, CA, called Sweetharts in 2009.
- Made a pact with her husband to move out of Los Angeles before their second child went to kindergarten; the pair eventually settled down in Westport, CT, in 2009.
- Became interested in rowing in 2010 when she joined a rowing club near her home in Connecticut.