Jami Gertz was born to Sharyn and Walter Gertz on October 28, 1965. She was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the suburbs until she graduated from Maine East High School (Park Ridge, IL). In the early eighties, Miss Gertz won a nationwide talent search run by Norman Lear. The encouragement received after the talent search inspired her to go after her dream… a career in acting. So after graduation, she moved to New York to study drama at New York University.
Like James Spader, Jami got her first career boost from the film Endless Love, but she got very little recognition. Her big break came from playing the roll of Muffy Tupperman in the TV series Square Pegs, which was an unfortunate flop. Following her short-lived TV career came a series of sometimes over-looked films. She played a minor roll in the bratpack flick Sixteen Candles (along with soon to be famous John and Joan Cusack… not to mention Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall). Miss Jami was also in Quicksilver and Crossroads before marrying her current husband, Tony Ressler (a stock investor), in 1987. Unlike some more recent Hollywood marriages, Jami was lucky enough to find the love of her life. She has this to say about her marriage:
I was dating someone my publicist didn't like. She met Tony and thought we'd be great and fixed us up. She brought me to a park and we met ... I fell in love instantly. At my wedding I sat her next to the man she later married and they have two babies now. So I paid her back…
Then came her most famous roll in The Lost Boys. Maybe you remember her? She was the beautiful, gypsy-like vixen. In the same year, 1987 (busy year, no?) came Less Than Zero. She was of course gorgeous in this film as well, sexy as always… Which brings me to an intriguing observation. I haven’t seen all of her films (so correct me if I’m wrong), but she has never done a nude scene (much like other lovelies like Winona Ryder). However, this doesn’t keep her from being totally sexy. Whether she’s being intimate with a vampire or being thrust up against a wall by Andrew McCarthy, she doesn’t need to flash her breasts around. Good for her!
Following her short-lived fame, she preformed in a few more movies, such as Renegades and The Boy Friend School. She then took a break for a few years, living a quiet life with her husband and two children (she now has three) in their dream home (designed by Emmy-winning set designer Kerry Joyce).
After her short break from film and TV, Jami has come back into the spotlight for brief intervals. She was in
Jan De Bont's Twister, which was a huge success. Jami had thought that her career was lost after losing the female lead in the film Speed to Sandra Bullock, but Twister proved to be a nice comeback. "I had read for Jan for Speed. I didn't get that one and it would have been a good one to get -- it made a few bucks," Gertz once said to a reporter. Jan asked Jami to tryout for Twister two weeks after giving birth to her second child, and she got the part. Thanks to Twister and a few more films (Lip Service, Seven Girlfriends, etc.) Jami Gertz had eleventh highest average for box office gross during the 1990’s ($52.1 Million, right before Rosie O’Donnell).
More recently, Jami Gertz has appeared on various hit TV series. She has been on Ally McBeal and ER. In fact, I just saw a commercial for Ally that said Jami was coming back this season. Did I hear right?!? I’m sure we’ll all keep our fingers crossed. In May of 2002, Gertz is going to play Gilda Radner in ABC’s adaptation of Radner’s autobiography. Jami was said to have acted beautifully in the casting calls. "She nailed both the real comedic bits in the script and the dramatic part and was really remarkable," casting director Susan Lyne told The Hollywood Reporter.
Ok, enough acting—we all know that she’s an actress. Well, she also happens to be a very charitable individual. Inspired by Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camps for children, Jami and her husband have decided to help fund a new Hole in the Wall Gang camp on the West Coast. This camp will be for children with life-threatening illnesses. Jami says this about the scenic camp, "I want these kids, who are in a hospital or who have been in a hospital most of their lives, to have that experience. I wanted to make this a reality for them."
Jami Gertz has had experience with these kinds of camps in the past. With her long-time friend, Page Hannah-Adler (Daryl Hannah’s sister), she worked in Paul Newman’s Connecticut camp. The two friends and their husbands feel very passionate about the cause and decided to open the California camp, Painted Turtle (No, I don’t know why it is named Painted Turtle). Although some may argue that money could be spent on more worthy causes, like curing illnesses, Gertz believes that the social and environmental influences at camp can be therapeutic. She says, "This camp is really important to all of us. My goal is that we will truly be able to help many children for years and years and make a real difference in their lives."