MOTW: Molly Ringwald: Greatest Teen Star of All Time

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Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
September 6th, 2013

MOTW: Molly Ringwald: Greatest Teen Star of All Time

Eighties movie icon Molly Ringwald will forever hold a special spot in the hearts of those who grew up in that decade. One of the original eight core members of the Brat Pack, the fiery redheaded actress and author has produced a diverse body of work over the course of several decades. Her career peaked when she starred in a string of John Hughes's films in the mid-'80s. Ringwald has often been dubbed the greatest teen star of all time, leading VH1 to rank her in the top spot on its list of the 100 Greatest Teen Stars.

She was born Molly Kathleen Ringwald on Feb. 18, 1968. Her father was a blind jazz pianist, and her mother was a chef. At the age of five, Ringwald began her career on stage when she landed a role in a stage production of "Alice in Wonderland." The following year, she recorded a musical album along with her father. By age ten, Ringwald had landed the role of Kate in a production of "Annie" in Los Angeles and then appeared on the television series "Diff'rent Strokes" in 1979. She also starred as a supporting character on the then-popular TV series "Facts of Life."

It wasn't until 1982 that Ringwald's career in motion pictures would begin in earnest with her Golden Globe-winning performance in "Tempest." It was her work with filmmaker John Hughes that really set her career in motion, however, when she starred in a series of popular films that were written and directed by Hughes. She is widely regarded to be his muse for her roles in "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," and "Pretty in Pink." She also starred in "The Pickup Artist" and "Fresh Horses" during the same period. Her work in these films epitomizes the '80s to the extent that there is actually an '80s cover band named for her—The Molly Ringwalds.

Perhaps more telling than the roles she took on are the roles that she turned down. You cannot help but wonder where Molly Ringwald, who was listed by John Willis's "Screen World" as one of twelve promising new actors of 1984, would be today if she had taken on roles that she refused. These include the role eventually played by Lea Thompson in 1987's "Some Kind of Wonderful" and Julia Roberts's eventual role in "Pretty Woman" in 1990. She also turned down a role that was eventually awarded to fellow Brat Packer Demi Moore in the 1990 hit movie, "Ghost."

Ringwald attended a French high school in LA and speaks French fluently, a talent that proved useful for her in the 1990s when she moved to Paris and in turn starred in a string of movies for French audiences. She sojourned back to the US from time to time during those years to star in various movies and TV productions, including the 1994 TV adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand."

From 2003 to 2006, she starred in several Broadway and theater productions, including playing the role of Rose in "Enchanted April" on Broadway. She briefly did a stint in the title role in "Sweet Charity" for a touring musical stage production. Ringwald starred in two made-for-television movies throughout her career, including 1998's "Since You've Been Gone" and 2006's "The Wives He Forgot." Her television appearances include a stint on ABC's "Townies," a role on "Remember WENN," and a bit part in an episode of "The Outer Limits." Recently, she realized some success in the ABC series, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." Ringwald played the role of Anne Juergens, lesbian mother of the series' main character. The series came to a close with the series finale in June 2013.

She is also the author of two books, including 2010's biographical memoir "Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick" and "When it Happens to You: A Novel in Stories," a fictional work published in 2012.

Ringwald was briefly married to French writer Valery Lameignere, although the two divorced in 2002. She married her current husband, Panio Gianopoulos, in 2007. Gianopoulos is also a writer and a book editor, and he is several years her junior. He recently published an essay entitled "Confessions of a Boy Toy," which is a look at romances between older women and younger men.

The couple has three children together. Ringwald had her first child, Mathilda Ereni, when she was 35. She later had a set of twins—a boy and girl—Roman Stylianos and Adele Georgiana.