Jenny McCarthy: Snapshot

Jenny McCarthy
Date of Birth
November 01, 1972
Birth Place
Chicago, Ill.
Jenny McCarthy could have been just another pretty Playboy centerfold, but the former model used her uninhibited humor to kick-start a multiplatform career – that even got Oprah Winfrey's stamp of approval!

The Chicago native dropped out of nursing school at 19, nabbed Playboy's Playmate of the Year at 21 and broke out as the star of MTV's dating show, Singled Out, at 22. The '90s It girl even landed her own NBC sitcom, but it was her frank discussion about pregnancy and motherhood in her best-selling books that landed her a talk show deal with Oprah.

On a serious note, McCarthy – who dated actor Jim Carrey for four years – has made public her fight against her young son Evan's autism. In 2013, the outspoken star took her opinions to The View, replacing Elisabeth Hasselbeck as co-host for one season. In 2014, she announced her engagement to Donnie Wahlberg and married him later that year.

Jenny McCarthy: Video

Star Talk

PEOPLE's cover story (on newsstands now) focuses on Jenny McCarthy and her 5-year-old son Evan, who was diagnosed with autism. Go inside their photo shoot, and see the playful side of the 34-year-old mom and her boy. (01:21)

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Jenny McCarthy: Five Fun Facts

  1. After being named 1994's Playmate of the Year, Jenny McCarthy splurged on one thing: "I ran out and bought my parents a big-screen TV," she told USA Today.
  2. Jenny McCarthy mistakenly wore her Valentino gown backwards to the 69th Academy Awards in 1997.
  3. Jenny McCarthy went backpacking in the Grand Canyon in 1997. "I hiked from the top to the bottom and then lived by the river for five days," she told Redbook. "It was the worst experience of my life, and I'd never do it again."
  4. Jenny McCarthy's favorite body part: her self-proclaimed Mary Lou Retton thighs. "I tell photographers to look out for the Mary Lou Rettons; I don't want them to look too big," she told PEOPLE. "But I like them now. They are their own Stairmasters, burning those calories."
  5. Jenny McCarthy is upfront about the Botox she gets in her forehead every two months ("So I keep mobility!") and her breast implants. "I got my boobs done when I was 19," she told PEOPLE, "and I got them rotated 10 years later, but that's another story."

Jenny McCarthy: Biography


Chicago Girl

The second of four daughters born to a steel-company foreman and a hairdresser, McCarthy, 19, drops out of nursing school in Chicago's South Side. While pursuing modeling, she's rejected by several agencies, but perseveres. "Mom always said, 'Be like Vanna White,'" she recalls to PEOPLE in 1995. And so, in Vanna's footsteps, she approaches Playboy's Chicago headquarters in August 1993.


Jenny McCarthy


Bunny Hop

McCarthy takes it off for the pages of Playboy, and, is later named 1994's Playmate of the Year. "It was the only way, maybe my only chance to get to Hollywood and in front of a camera," McCarthy wrote in her 1997 memoir JEN-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book. "It had to be a stepping stone."


Jenny McCarthy


The Dating Game

McCarthy, 22, gets her big break as co-host of the MTV Gen-X dating game show, Singled Out. "If you smack them around a little bit, there's never a problem," she tells PEOPLE of controlling the mosh-pit of male contestants. Co-host Chris Hardwick adds, "Some guys stand in the front row just to be hit by Jenny." In 1997, she leaves the show, passing the torch to fellow centerfold Carmen Electra.

Read More on Jenny McCarthy's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Everet

Edited by Julia Wang

Jenny McCarthy

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs