American actress and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who started out in two Chicago-based theater groups: The Practical Theater Company and the Second City troupe, shot to stardom as the self-seeking, ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes in the hit NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” (1990-1998). Louis-Dreyfus’ spectacular performance was highly praised and she earned a number of awards, including three Viewers for Quality Television awards, an American Television award, an Emmy award, two Golden Globe awards and seven Screen Actors Guild awards. After the huge success, however, the former regular cast member of “Saturday Night Live” had trouble finding popularity in other roles even though she starred in her own sitcom, the quickly-cancelled “Watching Ellie” (2002). She now plays a divorced mother searching for love in the CBS sitcom ““The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2006-?), which was ranked as the most watched show in its time period. As for film, Louis-Dreyfus has dotted her resume with such movies as Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Soul Man (1986), Jack the Bear (1993), North (1994), Fathers’ Day (1997) and Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry (1997).
“Definitely, the best thing that ever happened to me was having my children. It’s quite clear to me it’s the meaning of life. I want to be there. Even when I was working, I was with them.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus
One of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1998), Louis-Dreyfus, who was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority while in college, married her college-sweetheart, actor/writer Brad Hall in 1987 and has two sons with him. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and sons.
Childhood and Family:
Daughter to French billionaire Gerard Louis-Dreyfus and Judith Bowles, a private tutor, Julia Elizabeth Scarlett Louis-Dreyfuss, who would later be famous as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, was born on January 13, 1961, in New York, New York, but grew up in Washington, D.C. Her parents separated when Julia was only one year old and both of them remarried. She has a younger sister named Phoebe Louis-Dreyfus (born in 1968) and is half-sister to Lauren Bowles, an actress who costarred with Julia in “Watching Ellie.” Julia’s paternal grandfather, Pierre Louis-Dreyfus, was French-Jewish and battled in the French Resistance during World War II, and her cousin, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, is the ex-owner of Adidas (1993-2001) and the recent owner of the French football club Olympique de Marseille.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who earned the nickname Little Yum-Yum from her Seinfeld co-stars, attended Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, and then studied theater at Chicago’s Northwestern University. She went on to hone in on her craft at The Practical Theater Company and Chicago’s Second City troupe. In 1987, Julia married actor/writer Brad Hall, whom she met while the two were students at Northwestern University. The couple shares two sons, Henry Hall (born in 1992) and Charles Hall (born on May 30, 1997).
The New Adventures of Old Christine
Born to a wealthy family, the New York-born, Washington, D.C. raised Julia Louis-Dreyfus became highly involved in theater when she was a drama student at Northwestern University. She then sharpened her comic skills by joining two Chicago-based theater groups: the Practical Theater Company and the Second City comedy troupe. Moving back to New York, she joined the cast of the popular NBC sketch comedy “Saturday Night Live” in 1982, following in the footsteps of John Belushi and Bill Murray. She left the show in 1985 to pursue a career in film.
A year after the departure, Louis-Dreyfus made her film debut in the family film Troll (1986), for director John Carl Buechler, and followed that up with small roles in the Woody Allen-helmed Hannah and Her Sisters, and Steve Miner’s Soul Man (also in 1986). Still in 1986, she returned to television, playing the costarring role of Rachel in the unsold sitcom pilot for a “Family Ties” spin-off, “The Art of Being Nick,” and continued with another regular role, as Eileen Swift, in the short-lived comedy “Day by Day” (1988-89). She also made a one episode appearance in “Family Ties” (1988). In 1989, she acted in the comedy movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which starred Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo.
However, Louis-Dreyfus did not find real success until she was hired to star in the NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” (1990-1998), playing Jerry Seinfeld’s former girlfriend-turned-pal Elaine Benes. The series was a massive hit and Louis-Dreyfus became a household name. During her impressive nine-year stint with the show, Louis-Dreyfus was handed countless award such as Viewers for Quality Television for Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Comedy Series in 1992, 1992 and 1993, an American Television for Best Supporting Actress/Comedy in 1993, five American Comedy awards for Funniest Supporting Female (Television) in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998, two Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress in a Series Miniseries or Telefilm in 1993 and 1994, a 1996 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and seven Screen Actors Guilds in the categories of Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 1994, 1996, 1997 and in 1998.
While enjoying a successful career on TV, Louis-Dreyfus also continued to pursue her film career. After playing Danny De Vito’s sympathetic assistant in the 1993 film Jack the Bear, she was paired with “Seinfeld” co-star Jason Alexander to play the troubled parents of a little boy in the disappointing North (1994), directed by Rob Reiner. She then costarred with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams in the unsatisfactory Fathers’ Day (1997) and was cast as the libidinous sister in the ensemble cast of Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry (also in 1997). She also did voice over work for the computer animated film A Bug’s Life (1998), wherein she provided the voice of Princess Atta. In addition to film, she also starred in the made-for-TV film London Suite (1996) and lent her voice for the television film Animal Farm (1999, voiced Mollie).
After Seinfeld ended in 1999, Louis-Dreyfus returned to TV in 2000 with the costarring role of the Blue Fairy, opposite Drew Carey as Geppetto, in the musical film Geppetto before making her comeback to television serials with the NBC sitcom “Watching Ellie” two years later, where she starred as besieged lounge singer Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Riggs. Unlike its predecessor, the show was soon axed by the network due to its low rating. Despite the failure, Louis-Dreyfus delivered a memorable recurring guest role as the impulsively deceitful prosecutor Maggie Lizer in the Mitchell Hurwitz-created show “Arrested Development” (2004-05), starring Jason Bateman.
45-year-old Louis-Dreyfus currently stars as a newly divorced mom looking for love in the new comedy series “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2006-?). Aired by CBS, the series is reportedly the most watched show in its time period, with an average of 15.3 million viewers overall.