A character actress who has used her blond, voluptuous features to shrewd comic effect, Jennifer Coolidge appeared in some of the most celebrated film and TV comedies of the 1990s. Perhaps best known by mainstream audiences for her role as Stifler’s mom in American Pie (1999), she has also done equally memorable work in films like Christopher Guest’s Best in Show (2000), which cast her as the lesbian trophy-wife of a frail and oblivious old multimillionaire.
Originally hailing from Boston, Coolidge began her professional acting career when she moved to New York, where she became a member of the Gotham City Improv group. Work with the group led her to Los Angeles, where she continued to nurture a career in improvisational acting as a member of the Groundlings, the city’s legendary improv troupe. In the early ’90s, Coolidge broke into television-acting through spots on various shows, including Seinfeld and the animated King of the Hill, and segued into films with her debut in the forgettable 1997 comedy Trial and Error.
The actress earned her first dose of recognition for her scene-stealing cameo as a high school student’s seductive mother in the blockbuster comedy American Pie, then further endeared herself to audiences a year later in both Best in Show and The Broken Hearts Club. The latter cast her as a laconic but wildly popular hairdresser, capitalizing on the kind of deadpan glamour that was well on its way to becoming Coolidge’s trademark.