Although she has also proven herself as a dramatic actress, Meg Ryan used her blonde hair, blue eyes, and effervescent personality to greatest effect in romantic comedies of the 1980s and '90s. Initially getting her start on television, Ryan became a star with her titular role in the smash 1989 comedy When Harry Met Sally, earning both fame and permanent notoriety for her ability to fake an orgasm for Billy Crystal during a scene in a New York restaurant.
The daughter of a casting agent, Ryan was born Margaret Mary Emily Anna Hyra in Fairfield, Connecticut on November 19, 1961. Raised in New York, she went on to study journalism at New York University. In need of money to pay for her night classes, Ryan turned to acting to raise some extra cash. With her mother's help, she landed a role on a short-lived television series, and then made her film debut in Rich and Famous. The 1981 film -- director George Cukor's last -- cast Ryan as Candice Bergen's daughter, and proved to be a positive enough experience that the young actress was soon looking for more work. A lucky break led to her being cast in the daytime drama As the World Turns, on which she performed from 1982 until 1984.