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Denise Richards Biography

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Green-eyed former model Denise Richards went in a few short years from complete obscurity to one of the many “Next Big Things” to entice filmgoers in the late 1990s. Born February 17, 1971 in a Chicago suburb, Richards moved with her family to San Diego at the age of twelve. 

Following a modeling stint in New York (which was of limited success due to Richards’ 5′ 6″ height), Richards moved to Los Angeles to try her hand at acting. She found work in shows such as Doogie Howser, MD and Saved By the Bell before getting her first break in 1993 as Ben Affleck’s girlfriend in the short-lived Against the Grain.

1993 also marked Richards’ film debut in National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1. This led to her first starring role in the bizarre 1994 “family film” Tammy and the T-Rex. Following a small part in Gregg Araki’s Nowhere (1997), Richards acquired relative fame, not to mention a dedicated group of male followers, for her role in Paul Verhoeven’s $100 million sci-fi action film Starship Troopers. 

Featuring an army of giant ants doing battle with an army of tawny-skinned, white-toothed young men and women who appeared to have wandered off a Nordic Track commercial, the movie met with enough success to constitute Richards’ “big break.” She gained further exposure (literally) and fame with her next venture, 1998’s Wild Things. 

Cast as spoiled socialite Kelly Van Ryan, Richards gave a delightfully trashy performance in a film that called for her to lie, cheat, scheme, seduce, kill, and even perform a lesbian love scene with co-star Neve Campbell. The film was successful in its ability to satisfy its audience’s desire for tacky and oversexed fun, and it provided Richards with further opportunities, including 1999’s Drop Dead Gorgeous. 

Co-starring with Kirsten Dunst, Richards played a small-town beauty pageant contestant in a film that gleefully plays with America’s beauty ideals, something that was undoubtedly familiar territory for the actress.

Though 2001’s horror flop Valentine and the straight-to-video Good Advice did little for her career, Richards saw her star rise further in 2002 with a set of high-profile films that did much to expand her range. 

In director Malcolm D. Lee’s cheeky Blaxploitation send-up Undercover Brother, Richards was able to give her evil Wild Things persona an even broader, more satirical spin as White She-Devil, an operative for an evil Caucasian conglomerate bent on converting the world to its mayonnaise-eating ways. 

Richards’ intentionally wooden line readings and sly self-parody made her an invaluable part of Brother’s comic ensemble, helping the film become a minor hit. The romantic comedy The Third Wheel came later that year.

Throughout the early 2000s, Richards appeared in several film roles which both parodied and utilized her image as a sex symbol, including Valentine, Undercover Brother and Scary Movie 3. In December 2004, she posed for a nude pictorial in Playboy magazine, five months after giving birth.

Richards also posed semi-nude for the July 2006 issue of Jane magazine to raise money for the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation. In 1999, she ranked 9th in Maxim’s 50 Sexiest Women and in 2001 she was voted 2nd in FHM’s USA 100 Sexiest Women, 5th in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women and 19th in AskMen.com’s 50 Most Beautiful Women.

Richards appeared on the 8th season of Dancing with the Stars, paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. She was eliminated second on March 24, 2009. Richards sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field on May 1, 2009.

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