Blessed with a charismatic and sweet screen presence, Danica McKellar gracefully made the transition from child star to adult actress. Achieving early fame as Winnie Cooper, the girl next door for whom Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) pines on "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1988-1993), McKellar went on to make her film debut in the martial arts fantasy "Sidekicks" (1992). Earning her degree in mathematics from UCLA and co-authoring an important mathematical physics theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem, McKellar became a globally acclaimed advocate for the importance of girls and women to learn and love math. Writing a string of educational bestsellers including 2007's Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, 2009's Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, 2011's Hot X: Algebra Exposed! and 2012's Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, she earned enormous goodwill for her efforts. Onscreen, she graduated to more grown-up roles with a recurring turn on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) and guest spots on everything from "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) to "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005-14) and "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ). Radiating a down-to-earth glamour as well as a genuine passion for math, Danica McKellar carved out a fascinating second act to her entertainment industry career.
Born Jan. 3, 1975 in La Jolla, CA, Danica Mae McKellar was interested in dance and performing from a young age. She made her screen debut with a pair of appearances on the 1980s reboot of "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-89) before booking her star-making role as the winsome Winnie Cooper, the love interest of young Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) on "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1988-1993). A critical and commercial favorite, the Emmy-winning series cast a warmly nostalgic eye to growing up in the late-1960s, early-1970s and the on-again, off-again love story between Winnie and Kevin charmed many a viewer. Winning a Young Artist Award and earning three additional nominations for her work, McKellar achieved America's Sweetheart status and managed to grow up gracefully in the spotlight. Becoming a star to certain generations, the actress booked fun roles in such kid-friendly fare as "Camp Cucamonga" (NBC, 1990), "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" (TBS, 1990-96) and her big-screen debut, the Jonathan Brandis/Chuck Norris fantasy "Sidekicks" (1992). Unlike many of her contemporaries, McKellar took a pragmatic view of the entertainment industry and turned her post-child star attention to scholarly pursuits.
Not only did she graduate summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in mathematics, but she also earned an honor very few could claim: she co-wrote a groundbreaking mathematical physics theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem. Although she continued to act, she appeared in lower-profile projects, including a slew of made-for-TV movies, including "Justice for Annie: A Moment of Truth Movie" (NBC, 1996). She reunited with Savage on the latter's short-lived sitcom "Working" (NBC, 1997-99) but enjoyed more success with a high-profile recurring role on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) as Elsie Snuffin, the stepsister and assistant to Will Bailey (Joshua Malina). McKellar added to her filmography with a series of juicy guest spots on everything from "NCIS" (CBS, 2003- ) to "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) to "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06) and also branched out into voiceover work, lending her distinctive pipes to video games and animated series. Her profile earned its biggest boost, however, when she became a global advocate for inspiring and empowering girls to learn and embrace math.
Scoring New York Times bestsellers with 2007's Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, 2009's Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, 2011's Hot X: Algebra Exposed! and 2012's Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, McKellar led a movement to help girls see math as a tool that could help them in their daily lives. Earning raves from educational experts as well as previously math-phobic young women around the globe, McKellar embraced her role as a math ambassador as well as producing, writing and starring in a made-for-TV mystery "Inspector Mom: Kidnapped in Ten Easy Steps" (Lifetime, 2007), which spun off into a webseries "Inspector Mom." After roles on "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005-14) and "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ) she lensed the lead in the holiday telefilm "Love at the Christmas Table" (Lifetime, 2012) and continued to book lucrative voiceover roles, including a series regular gig as Miss Martian on "Young Justice" (Cartoon Network, 2010-13).
By Jonathan Riggs
Cast (Feature Film)
First acting role, "The Twilight Zone" (CBS)
Played Winnie Cooper, Fred Savage's main love interest on "The Wonder Years" (ABC)
Cast in the NBC TV-movie, "Camp Cucamonga"
Feature debut, "Sidekicks"
Re-teamed with Fred Savage for two episodes of "Working" (NBC)
Cast as Rizzo in the Broadway revival of "Grease"
Had a recurring role on "The West Wing" (NBC) as the sister and assistant of Will Bailey (Joshua Malina)
Played the lead in the TV-movie, "Path of Destruction" (TBS)
Appeared in the Lifetime movie and web-based series titled "Inspector Mom"
Wrote the book, <i>Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail</i>
Authored second book, <i>Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss</i>
Co-starred with D. B. Sweeney in the Sci Fi Channel original movie, "Heatstroke"