Kaley Cuoco can boast being one of television’s highest paid actors after appearing on The Big Bang Theory for more than a decade.
Her role as the surname-less Penny helped her make bank big time when she began earning a whopping $1 million per episode — but her rise to fame began with Barbie commercials, not a big bang.
Cuoco was born on Nov. 30, 1985 in Camarillo, Calif. Her parents were supportive of her various pursuits, which included acting.
“There was no lightbulb moment where I moved to California and wanted to be an actress,” Cuoco said during a 2017 New York Post interview. “It happened as if I was born to do it.”
Cuoco appeared alongside Denzel Washington in the 1995 movie Virtuosity, and she played a younger version of Ellen DeGeneres’ character on the sitcom Ellen in 1996 (via IMDb).
The following year, Cuoco got to tell Jennifer Aniston how much she loved her while working on the romantic comedy Picture Perfect.
And now, Cuoco has since transformed into a star equally as huge as Aniston thanks to her big break, as she landed her first major TV role just a few years later.
From 2002 to 2005, Kaley Cuoco played Bridget Hennessy on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules.
The character was the popular teen girl stereotype: pretty, ditzy, and obsessed with boys. Bridget also had a habit of baring her midriff and a tendency to butt heads with her overprotective dad.
Bridget’s father was played by Three’s Company star John Ritter, who tragically died at age 54 after suddenly falling ill on the set of 8 Simple Rules in 2003. Cuoco remembers her time with her TV father fondly, recalling how Ritter won her over when he brought his dad act to their first table read.
During a September 2018 appearance on the REELZ series Behind Closed Doors, Cuoco said she was dressed like her character when Ritter walked in and saw her skimpy ensemble.
He sternly told her to “put a sweater on” before removing a sweater from someone in the room for her to cover up with. “And he goes, ‘Dress like that from now on,'” she recalled (via Today). “That was my introduction to him. I was in love from that moment on.”