With a rare beauty that has inspired countless platitudes and an almost-permanent place on People's Fifty Most Beautiful list, Michelle Pfeiffer had to work long and hard before getting respect for her talent, rather than mere adulation for her looks. Born April 29, 1957, in Santa Ana, CA, Pfeiffer got her first taste of fame in her late teens, when she won both the Miss Orange County beauty contest and then the title of Miss Los Angeles. After high school, Pfeiffer went to college for a year, deciding that she wanted to become a court reporter. It was while working in a supermarket that Pfeiffer realized that acting was her true calling and she auditioned for commercials and modeling assignments while she attended acting school.
Pfeiffer debuted before the cameras in a one-line role on the TV series Fantasy Island and went on to a string of bit parts on TV. She debuted on the big screen in a small part in Falling in Love Again (1980) and then had small roles in two more films before getting her big break with the role of Stephanie in Grease 2 (1982). This led to her portrayal of Al Pacino's wife in Brian De Palma's 1983 classic Scarface, for which the actress garnered favorable attention and greater opportunities. Her first starring role was in the comedy thriller Into the Night (1984) with Jeff Goldblum and was followed by a turn in Richard Donner's fantasy adventure Ladyhawke (1985). Over the next couple of years, Pfeiffer acted in films of varying quality, but it was with 1987's The Witches of Eastwick that her career turned in a truly positive direction. Starring alongside Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Jack Nicholson, Pfeiffer received much acclaim for her work, acclaim that continued with her turn in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. The same year, Pfeiffer took on an entirely different role as a Mafia wife in the 1988 hit comedy Married to the Mob. In 1990, she was rewarded with yet another Oscar nomination -- this time for Best Actress -- for her portrayal of a nightclub singer in The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989).