Model Student/Actress by Design
Tiffani Thiessen, as she now prefers to be called, has come a long way. Her successes, however, did not come without heartache.
She was born Tiffani-Amber Thiessen on January 23, 1971 in Long Beach, California. The second of three children born to Frank Thiessen, a park designer and his wife Robyn, a homemaker, Tiffani has two brothers. Todd is older and Schuyler is the youngest.
She attended Valley Professional High School in Long Beach, where in 1992, she was named class valedictorian.
Her long name was her grandmother's idea, believing that two names somehow makes a person stronger. Tiffani says her mother and grandmother are her role models. She did, however, drop Amber from her name and is now credited as Tiffani Thiessen.
The Early Years
Her first job was a Barbie doll commercial when she was eight years old. She then started modeling. After a childhood of competing in pageants, she was named Miss Junior America in 1987. She won Teen Magazine's Great Model Search in 1988 and in 1989, she won model of the year for Cover Girl Magazine.
Her Big Break
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen had made her mark in the entertainment world. Having modeled her way through the country and making guest appearances on shows like Valerie in 1986, Charles in Charge in 1984, Married with Children in 1987, her big break came in 1989 when she was cast as Kelly Kapowski, the squeaky clean teen cheerleader on Saved by the Bell, a show about a group of teens at fictional Bayside High. The show ran until 1993 and concluded its successful run in 1994 with Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas, when long time sweethearts Kelly Kapowski and Zack Morris wed. When Saved by the Bell had ended, Tiffani was ready to be cast in different roles.
Filling Shannen's Shoes
In the fourth season finale of Beverly Hills 90210, actress Shannen Doherty, who had portrayed Brenda Walsh since the show's inception in October of 1990, exited the popular teen drama series. In September of 1994, Beverly Hills 90210 was beginning its fifth season. Valerie Malone was just arriving in Los Angeles by plane.
The Walsh family had known Valerie Malone and her parents since she was a child. She and the Walsh twins had played together as children. Now, she had moved from Buffalo, New York to stay with the Walsh family after her father's unexpected death. The young lady with the face of an angel had moved into Brenda's room. Behind the closed door of the room once occupied by Brenda, Valerie rifles through whatever was left behind, smokes pot and insults the Walsh family during a phone call to a friend back home.
A new Tiffani, complete with a shorter hairstyle and breast implants, was now portraying a vixen. Valerie Malone was a far cry from Kelly Kapowski. It was just what Tiffani had hoped for. Her new character stirred up trouble in the popular zip code, systematically chewing up and spitting out all the young men seemed to be her favorite way to pass the time. It took no time at all for things to heat up on this already sizzling show thanks to Valerie Malone and the actress who portrayed her.
The Happy Couple
Although Brian Austin Green and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen were introduced by mutual friend, David Faustino in 1988, They didn't actually start dating until 1992. They also shared a home together in Los Angeles. In February of 1995, the couple sat down for an interview with People Magazine.
I thought about her all the time, says Green, But I had this reputation as a pickup artist, and I didn't want Tiff to think all I wanted was a one-night dealie. So I was hesitant to even kiss her on the cheek. Then one night she asked him to stay with her during a thunderstorm.
He was such a gentleman, says Thiessen. I was on one end of the bed, and he stayed on the other. It was then I knew that I wanted to be with him forever.
In February of 1994, they had given each other platinum one-year anniversary bands. Brian had every intention of asking Tiffani to marry him and Tiffani couldn't wait to accept his expected proposal.
Love Doesn't Always Conquer All
Brian Austin Green had been with the show since it began, portraying David Silver. When she joined the cast in 1994, Tiffani and Brian would encounter problems much like those of many couples in the acting profession. Watching your loved one in a love scene with another actor or actress can be very difficult, even though it's not real. They dealt with it the best they could, but this combined with issues that any couple must face would be more than they were able to handle.
In late 1995, Tiffani and Brian broke up. They remained good friends, however, and continued to work on 90210 until Tiffani left the show in 1998 to pursue a career in movies.
In 1999, Tiffani was dating actor David Strickland, who had co-starred in NBC's Suddenly Susan. On March 22, 1999, Strickland, 28 years old, committed suicide. Reportedly suffering from bipolar disorder, he'd hanged himself with a bed sheet at the Oasis Motel in Las Vegas, Nevada. While friends and those who worked with Strickland, including Brooke Shields, gave brief statements after his death, Tiffani declined any comments or interviews.
On the set of Two Guys and a Girl, in 2000, Tiffani met actor Richard Ruccolo. They live together and as of October 12, 2001, the couple are officially engaged.
Filmography (as of 2002)
Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style (1992) Upon arriving in Hawaii for a summer vacation at the invitation of Kelly's grandfather, the gang soon discovers they have been summoned in order to help fight against a powerful man who plans to take grandpa's land from him in order to build an apartment complex.
A Killer Among Friends: (1992) Based on the true story of a jealous teen who murdered her best friend, then moved in with the late girl's family.
Saved by the Bell: The College Years: (1993) Zack, Screech and Slater are struggling to adapt to college life. Kelly arrives later to rejoin the her friends.
Son in Law: (1993) Two different worlds collide when a country girl goes of to college in Los Angeles and meets an unpredictable and wild young man. She shocks her parents when she brings him home for the holidays and announces they are engaged to be married.
She Fought Alone: (1995) The true story of a young girl who's been raped. Her only friend and ally is a young man, played by Brian Austin Green.
The Stranger Beside Me: (1995) A young woman suspects her new husband is raping women in their neighborhood.
Sweet Dreams: (1996) A girl awakens from a coma and finds that her world has collapsed around her. As her memory does begin to return, she discovers someone is out to get her.
Buried Secrets: (1996) A restless spirit asks a young woman to help her find the person who sent her mother to her death off a cliff.
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money:
(1999) Five criminals get together to rob a bank in Mexico and take a detour which sets up the terror that awaits
them as well as the officers on their trail.
Speedway Junky: (1999) A naive young man runs away from his Army father to pursue a career in professional racing.
Love Stinks: (1999) A comedy about the side of romance that just about everyone can do without. When you can't be with the one you love, make their life a living hell.
Ivansxtc: (2000) Hollywood's most sought after talent agent is found dead. A look at his company books chart the highs, lows and extreme excesses of his final days.
Hollywood Ending: (2000) A has-been film maker is hired to direct his ex-wife, who's now dating the studio boss. When he develops a case of
psychosomatic blindness, he and some friends try to hide his disability from the producers studio executives.
The Ladies Man: (2000) The host of a romance-advice radio show, fired from his job for off-color comments on the air, he finds himself facing the wrath of the husbands of the women he once advised.
Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th: (2000) A reporter's attempts to get the scoop on a series of murders results in mayhem.
That Was Then, This is Now
The show is called Fastlane. It made its debut on September 18. Tiffani plays Billie Chambers, who runs an undercover Agency. These cops take down the highest and lowest criminals in Los Angeles. The show is very slick, with all these smash cuts and fight scenes, showy gunplay and saucy, tight-fitting outfits. Fastlane airs on Wednesdays on Fox. Check your local listings.
"Buckle up for a loud, silly joyride. The season's one true guilty pleasure, Fastlane is more enjoyable than most summer movies. Little substance, lots of style."