“I’m not as big as Pamela (Anderson Lee), but mine are real.” Traci Bingham
An American actress and model, Traci Bingham became famous as the first color actress to appear as a regular on the syndicated series “Baywatch,” playing lifeguard Jordan Tate from 1996 until 1998. The former Playboy model also guest starred in countless shows, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Married with Children” and “Malcolm & Eddie,” and starred in the short-lived “The Dream Team” (1999), alongside Roger Moore and fellow beauties Caprice Bourret and Angie Everhart. On the silver screen, Bingham has appeared in such vehicles as Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knights (1995), Beach Movie (1998), Foolish (1999) and The Private Public (2000).
Off screen, the American beauty of African-American, Italian, and Native American descent measures 36-22-32 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine), and is a vegan. To support vegetarianism, she once stopped traffic in Berlin by wearing a fake-lettuce bikini. Bingham also participated in several environmental charities, including Heal the Bay. As for her personal life, she was married to musician Robb Vallier from 1998 to 2003, and became engaged to John Yarbrough, a senior vice president of Investment Banking at Salomon Smith Barney, soon after divorcing.
Childhood and Family:
Traci Bingham was born Julie Anne Smith, on January 13, 1968, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is one of seven children to a librarian mother who has Italian and African-American heritage and a Native American Aircraft technician father. Growing up, Traci developed a love for sport, thanks to her older brother’s encouragement. She became a member of the swim team, track and cross country teams, and even picked up first price at a regional hurdle jumping and pole vaulting. Traci graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, and then went to Harvard University, where she majored in psychology. A year and a half later, she decided to quit, pursued a brief modeling career and finally moved to Los Angeles to become an actress.
In boyfriend’s hometown of Ames, Iowa, on August 29, 1998, Traci married her musician paramour Robb Vallier (born in 1970) after a six-year relationship. The marriage ended in separation in 2003.
The Dream Team
Traci Bingham got her feet wet by participating in several plays like “West Side Story,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Annie and Grease” while attending Harvard University. An encounter with director John Landis subsequently changed her goal of life. After getting a bit part in the director’s basketball film Celtic Pride, the Cambridge beauty decided to put her Harvard study on hold and then made her way to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career in acting in 1994.
Shortly after relocating, Bingham landed her first TV role as a guest star in one episode of the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1994), and moved to the wide screen film with the small role of Party babe in Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knights, the next year. She continued with a role in a national Coca Cola commercial and guest appearances in shows “Dream On” (1995) as well as Fox’s “Married with Children” (1996). The latter saw the struggling actress as lap dancer.
Bingham’s big breakthrough arrived in 1996 when she joined the cast of the world’s most watched television series, “Baywatch.” Playing regular Jordan Tate, the show’s first African American lifeguard, the sexy player rose to fame with Baywatch’s massive success. Despite the prominence, Bingham dropped out in 1998 when sweeping cast changes were made. A few months later, she was featured in the June issue of Playboy Magazine.
Bingham maintained her busy schedule following Baywatch’s departure. She did cover shoots for a number of magazines as well as undertook small television roles in a number of shows, including “Sin City Spectacular,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Malcolm & Eddie,” “The Parkers,” “Black Scorpion” and “Rock Me Baby.” Additionally, she hosted “Exploring the Fantasy” (1999), starred opposite Roger Moore, Caprice Bourret and Angie Everhart in the syndicated series “The Dream Team” (1999), played supporting role Dawna in the Julie Brown and Jim O’Heir sitcom “Strip Mall” (2000), as well as appeared as a feature reporter for the game show “Comedy Central’s BattleBots” (2000). The gorgeous player also took on film roles. She was cast in the supporting role of Stephanie in the John Quinn-helmed comedy Beach Movie (1998), found herself acting with Eddie Griffin, Master P and Amie Petersen in Foolish (1999) and starred as Laina Brookhart in The Private Public (2000), along side David Burns and Jason Cornwell.
In 2003, Bingham essayed the lead of Sandra Marshall in the straight-to-video-release More Mercy, rejoining Mater P, and guest starred as Kia in an episode of “Rock Me Baby.” The same year, she provided her voice to the animated series “The Proud Family,” as Jasmine in the episode of “Smackmania 6: Mongo vs. Mama’s Boy.” In 2004, she added two more guest stints in “Girlfriends” (as Cyndy) and “Reno 911” (as New Williams - Deputy Verlot.
A year later, Bingham was recruited by Empire Poker, an online gambling site, as their spokesmodel. For promotion purposes, she attended various media events by wearing a scanty, low-cut t-shirt with the company’s logo on it.