A petite blonde with flowing curls, bright eyes and a wide smile, Sarah Jessica Parker saw her image change considerably through the years, from her portrayal of bookish bean-pole Patty Greene on the above-average schoolgirl
sitcom Square Pegs (CBS, 1982-83)
to that of freewheeling relationships
columnist Carrie Bradshaw, a single
thirtysomething navigating Manhattan's dating
jungle, on HBO's acclaimed series Sex and the City (1998-2004).
While Square Pegs marked Parker's first taste of
nationwide notice, she actually made her television debut
a decade earlier, with a role as The Little Match Girl
in an NBC television production.
The young actress followed up with stage work,
making her debut in The Innocents
in 1976, directed by Harold Pinter.
She followed up with Annie after her family relocated
to the New York area and played the sister of
future Sex and the City co-star and fellow
Drama Dept. member Cynthia Nixon
in the TV-movie My Body,
My Child (1982) starring Vanessa Redgrave.
Parker made the move to features
beginning in 1979, when she appeared in Rich Kids.
Five years later, she took on roles in Footloose, Firstborn
and Somewhere Tomorrow and continued to appear
in TV movies in the interim including
co-starring roles in ABC's The Almost Royal Family
(1984) and CBS' Going For the Gold:
The Bill Johnson Story (1985). Parker
was particularly effervescent in her lead
role opposite Helen Hunt as a young teen
who wants to enter a dance contest
against the wishes of her reactionary
father in the musical comedy
Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985).
She was featured the following year in
Flight of the Navigator, her last film for
six years and her last teenage role. Later
that year Parker made her first entry into
adult roles, cast in the role of
newlywed Kay Ericson Gardner, an ebullient young woman
who marries into the family around
which the NBC miniseries and subsequent weekly
drama A Year in the Life centered.
While the series was critically heralded,
it failed to capture a large enough audience
for NBC to order a second season. Parker
kept busy with telefilms and stage work
(including a three character part in Wendy Wasserstein's
Off-Broadway hit The Heidi Chronicles) before
landing the role of driven attorney JoAnn Harris
legal drama Equal Justice. Like A Year
in the Life, this acclaimed series didn't
last beyond its premiere season.
Previously cast mostly as a cerebral or earnest characters,
Parker won acclaim for her deftly comic
portrayal of the flaky, pirouetting SanDeE,
stealing every scene opposite Steve Martin
in L.A. Story (1991). She moved up to
leading lady status for Honeymoon in Vegas
(1992), and played the sexiest of three kooky
witches in the Disney
comic fantasy Hocus Pocus (1993).
Again proving her versatility, Parker
was featured opposite Bruce Willis
in the actioner Striking Distance
and played against Johnny
Depp's Ed Wood
as his leading lady and love interest Dolores Fuller
in Tim Burton's affectionate biopic
of the odd director.
The actress continued on this upward
trajectory and had one of her best roles
as a young woman afraid of commitment in
(1995). The following year, she returned to Broadway
to co-star with future husband Matthew Broderick
in the musical revival How to Succeed in
Business Without Really Trying. Parker
did a spate of film work that saw 1996 release as
well, playing Dan Hedaya's obnoxious social
climbing girlfriend in The First Wives Club,
a flamboyant TV host in Burton's Mars Attacks!,
the nurse stuck between battling doctors Gene Hackman
and Hugh Grant in Extreme Measures,
a single therapist looking for love in If Lucy Fell,
and the daughter of a Jewish publisher
in the film version of The Substance of Fire
(a role which she previously played on stage).
She starred in the revival of Once Upon a
Mattress (1996-1997), enjoying the role although
the reviews were lackluster, and returned to features in
1997 with a mirthful role in the comedy
'Til There Was You, the prolific and successful
former child actress ironically cast as an unfulfilled and spoiled former child star.
In 1998, Parker returned to
series television in the smart HBO
comedy Sex and the City, earning acclaim
for her turn as the staunchly independent but
emotionally needy Carrie. Although the series followed
a very specific group of women with excessive
lifestyles drastically unlike those of the audience,
the universal themes of sex, love and friendship
struck a familiar chord with viewers,
who enjoyed the series' candor and
heart. Starring alongside Kim
Cattrall, Kristin Davis
and Cynthia Nixon, Parker excelled as the
center of the ensemble, and earned numerous
awards nominations for her nuanced portrayal
of the extroverted but introspective columnist--she
would take home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in
a Comedy Series in 2001, and collect Golden Globes
for Best Performance by an Actress in a
Television Series Musical or Comedy.
in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
She would at last win the Emmy .
for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Comedy
in 2004 for the beloved series' final season.
Thanks to her trend-setting character's
fashion savvy, Parker also become one of
Hollywood's hottest style icons of the
late 1990s and early 2000s, known for her excellent
taste, avant garde accessories and always
fabulous footwear. A planned film version of
the series was scuttled in 2004,
reportedly due to
friction with co-star Kim Cattrall.
Less memorable than her TV persona,
however, were her big-screen turns
during the series' runs, including a stint as Nell Fenwick
in the failed live action adaptation
of the enduring cartoon Dudley Do-Right
(1999). Parker was well cast in the
ensemble of David Mamet's minor
comedy State and Main (2000) as a self-obsessed,
manipulative actress, followed by a leading turn
in the little seen romantic comedy
whodunnit Life Without Dick
(2001) opposite Johnny Knoxville and Harry Connick, Jr.
She then returned to the stage to star in
the Off-Broadway play Wonder Of The World (2001).