Most famous for her role as Jessie Spano, an auburn intellectual with feminist tendencies in the television programme Saved By The Bell and as an exotic dancer the film Showgirls, Elizabeth Berkley is an actress based in the USA.
Born on 28th July 1972 in Farmington Hills, Michigan her parents noticed her talent for dancing and enrolled her at a Detroit dance company at the age of five. She took part in a number of ballets, including Swan Lake and continued her showbiz activities to star in Gimme a Break! when she was 9 years old as Girl in Pink Sweater.
After starring in a number of musicals in 1983, on occassions singing in Italian, she continued her young career by taking small roles in television programmes such as Silver Spoons and Gimme a Break! before appearing as Kathy in coming of age television movie Frog, a film which has been compared to Pleasantville due to its special effects and good storyline.
Saved By The Bell
After a role in Day by Day, Berkley auditioned for the part of Kelly Kapowski in Los Angeles for the television show Saved By The Bell. Despite Tiffani-Amber Thiessen getting the part Berkley auditioned for, she did win the role of Jessie Spano, a intellectual feminist who still managed to keep up with her friends. The first appearance by the character Jessie Spano was on Who Shrunk Saturday Morning on NBC in 1989 which was designed to introduce the viewing public to the Saved By The Bell concept.
Whilst still working on Saved By The Bell, Berkley worked on many other projects. These included roles in Point Break, Life Goes On and International Swimsuit '91 on NBC where she starred alongside Elle Macpherson.
After starring in spin-off series Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style, Berkley continued playing more adult roles with parts in Baywatch, Step By Step and Raven before appearing in another Saved By The Bell varient, Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. This show was the last in which Berkley played the role of Jessie Spano, and after four seasons, she tried to break into the film industry with a few roles in shows such as Diagnosis Murder along the way.
Showgirls was the first major film in which Berkley starred. As the character Nomi Malone, a exotic dancer trying to make her fortune in Las Vegas, Berkley made the distinct break from her previous role in Saturday morning television. This film contained sex, rape and bondage outfits, a far cry from Jessie Spano.
After Showgirls, which many called a box office fiasco, Berkley continued her education earning a degree in English Literature from UCLA before signing up with United Talent Agency in an attempt to further her acting career.
Numerous roles such as Phoebe LaVelle in First Wives Club and Mandy in Any Given Sunday gained Berkley a little respectability back , and then in 1999 she came to London to star as Honey Harlowe, the wife of comedian Lenny Bruce in a stage production entitled Lenny alongside Eddie Izzard.
Throughout the next few years Berkley worked constantly with a number of roles, and on 5th May 2001 made an appearance at the Diva's Simply Singing concert which was to benfit the charities Project Angel Food and Caring For Babies With AIDS. Here at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, she sang a song accompanied by grand piano. She is also a vegetarian who supports PETA and has volunteered hours of her time to star in advertisments for their cause.
Television and Film Credits (through 2002)