Kate's Notes

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell

Catherine Lisa Bell (born August 14, 1968 in London, England) is best known for her role in the longrunning hit television show "JAG" from 1997 to 2005. This British-born Iranian-American actress initially intended on being an artist; however, she then went to university to pursue a degree for biomedical engineering or medicine, and then dropped out when she was offered a modeling opportunity that she could not pass up. From there she slowly made her way into the Hollywood spotlight, finding bit parts her and there, which eventually developed into quite a notable career.

She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, and continues to this day to follow her passion for acting.

Early Life and Career

Born in London, England to a Scottish father and Iranian mother, Bell’s parents divorced when she was only three years old; she then moved out to Los Angeles with her mother (Bell is fluent in Persian (Farsi) and English). Bell became a naturalized citizen of the United States at the age of 12.

Although she had appeared in some television commercials as a child, Bell originally wanted to be an artist. However, she attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with an interest in becoming either a biomedical engineer or a physician; though she dropped out to become a full-time model.

One of her first modeling jobs was an extended assignment in Japan, but she felt that her shyness held her back from really being successful as a model. Subsequently, she turned to acting, and hired an acting coach to help her gain confidence and overcome her shyness.

On her modeling career, she said, “People were showing you how to throw up. You’re taking diet pills. Everyone’s partying, so you start drinking a lot, and drugs. A couple of years messed me up for a while.”

Acting, Modeling and Other

Her parents supported her decision to pursue acting (rather than the more secure medical field), but it took her years of auditions to finally get the break she needed. She moved back into acting with a Mexican commercial for Amex and then followed that up with her first appearance in a film as a body double for Isabella Rossellini in Death Becomes Her (1992). Bell started out with guest appearances on television shows like “Dream On” in 1994, “Friends” in 1995 ("The One with the Baby on the Bus"), “Hot Line” in 1996, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” in 1997, and a recurring role on “Sin City Spectacular” in 1998.

Before landing her breakthrough role of Major/Lt. Colonel Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie on JAG, she was cast in the recurring role of Lt. Dianne Schonke, in one of the show's first seasons. Bell was killed off the show after only a couple of appearances, but the good news was that the show's creator and executive producer was so impressed by her performance, she was made the female lead in 1997.

From 1997 to 2005, she played U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Sarah MacKenzie on the television series "JAG," as a practicing attorney in the U.S. Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps of legal experts. She said of receiving her part in "JAG": "This huge life-changing moment of going from zero to ninety in two seconds!"

Catherine also added several film roles to her credit, including 1994's Men of War, 1997's Crash Dive and Black Thunder, the made-for-TV-movies Mother of the Bride (1993) and Alien Nation: Body and Soul (1995), and starring roles in Cab to Canada (1998) and The Time Shifters (1999). She also appeared as a square in Hollywood Squares.

In 2003, Catherine had a more significant big-screen role in the Jim Carrey vehicle, Bruce Almighty. Two years later, she saw her eight-year stint as Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie come to an end when "JAG" was taken off the air. Though she did manage to stay busy with a role in 2005's Babak & Friends: A First Norooz.

Bell has also acted in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, “The Triangle,” presented in December 2005, where she played the role of an ocean engineer.

In 2006, she was nominated in Saturn Award of Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Supporting Actress on Television (The Triangle).

On September 14, 2006, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter announced that Bell had joined the cast of Lifetime's ensemble drama pilot "Army Wives.” In the projected series, Sally Pressman stars as a sassy woman from the wrong side of the tracks who marries a soldier, moves her kids to a military base, and strikes up a friendship with a diverse group of Army wives, played by Bell, Kim Delaney, and Brigid Brannagh. Bell is set to play the wife of a US Army major, a devoted homemaker who is enduring physical abuse at the hands of her teenage son. In December, Lifetime announced it would produce 13 episodes of the series for 2007.

She studies acting at The Beverly Hills Playhouse with Milton Katselas.

Bell was selected #84 in year 2001, #38 in 2002, and #20 in the 2004 list of the FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World. She was also named #75 on the Maxim magazine "Hot 100 of 2005" list.

Personal Life

Bell is married to Adam Beason, whom she met on the set of Death Becomes Her in 1992, when she was a body double, and he was the director's assistant. Bell and her husband live near Los Angeles with their daughter Gemma and their two Italian greyhounds, Zoe and Leo. She enjoys bungee jumping and riding motorcycles.

Bell is a survivor of thyroid cancer. She had to have her thyroid gland removed from her neck when she was in her twenties. She has a small surgical scar on her neck. She used to have a message board on her website (however, it has been taken down because of her inability to monitor it) where she noted that she has had thyroid surgery and LASIK done in the past.

Has a heart tattoo with the word "love" inside of it on her right ankle.

Charity Work and Activism

The stunning actress dedicates her free time to organizations like the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and the Buoniconti Fund.


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