Fans of American actress Melora Hardin who associate her exclusively with her characterization of Jan Levinson-Gould -- Michael Scott's stone-faced manager and sometimes lover, on the smash NBC series The Office -- may be surprised and delighted to discover several exciting facts about the history of her career. First, her work stretches back many decades, into her primary school years, encompassing everything from Disney movies to prime-time series dramas of the '80s, '90s, and 2000s to commercials to acclaimed feature films; she directs and edits films as well. Second, Hardin moonlights as an accomplished and gifted singer/songwriter -- a nightclub chanteuse known for sultry cabaret-style numbers, who has issued a number of acclaimed albums of her own material, including Meloradrama and Purr. And finally, this comedian's wit extends far beyond her crack-comic onscreen timing. A parodist who loves to play with her own image, Hardin runs her own website, with a series of funny-sexy (yet inexplicit) cheesecake photos that serve as throwbacks to the peek-a-boo erotica days of the mid-'50s while subtly parodying and calling attention to those setups.
Given both of her parents' long tenures in film and television (her father is character actor Jerry Hardin and her mother is acting coach Diane Hill Hardin), drama came preternaturally for Hardin, and she commenced work as a child star at age six. One of her earliest assignments involved plugging Peak Toothpaste on a television commercial; she later joined the ensemble cast of a live-action children's program on NBC (circa 1977, at age ten) called Cliffwood Avenue Kids, which (as late-Gen X television babies may recall) typically aired during early weekday evenings after The Flintstones. A series of failed pilots ensued for Hardin, beginning with the late-'70s drama Thunder and encompassing over a dozen others over the next two decades.