If playing Carol Vessey on NBC's Ed
has taught Julie Bowen anything, it's how to wear fashionable shoes. "I couldn't walk in heels two years ago to save my life," she says. "Now I could run in them." Still, the 33-year-old Bowen admits that "getting gussied up makes me incredibly nervous." It was her down-to-earth accessibility that won her the role of Stuckeyville's comeliest high school English teacher. "We wanted a very homespun quality," says Rob Burnett, one of Ed
's co-creators. "You almost have to remind yourself, 'Oh, she's also one of the prettiest girls you've ever laid eyes on.' " Says costar Tom Cavanagh: "She literally glows." Growing up in Baltimore as Julie Bowen Luetkemeyer ("I shortened it because it's a mouthful"), the 5'6" actress says that she and her two sisters—one is a doctor in San Francisco, the other a Los Angeles interior designer—were taught the importance of productivity and good works over appearance. Which is perhaps why the currently "single, single, single" Brown University grad is so unschooled in certain beauty practices. "I looked up one day after going to some very fancy, expensive salon in New York City," says Bowen, "and my head looked as though a fuzzy yellow bird was sitting on it. The colorist had told me he was going to lighten the base, but I didn't know what that meant. Now I do."