Though she plays a true-blue American Marine investigator on CBS's J.A.G., Catherine Bell is actually London-born. Catherine Lisa Bell was born August 14, 1968, in London, England. Of British and Iranian descent (Catherine speaks fluent Farsi), but when her parents, Peter, an architect, and Mina, a nurse, divorced when Catherine was a toddler, 3 years old, she and her mother settled in Los Angeles, CA. A self-described "geek," Bell thrived in math and biology in school, and in junior high once programmed a computer video game. She entered UCLA with the intention of being a pre-med major, but in her sophomore year found herself at a crossroads. Making a decision to take her life in a different direction, she began modeling in Japan, but after four months found the lifestyle damaging to her self-esteem and well being. She returned to Los Angeles with a new goal: to prove herself as an actress. She soon found herself cast in guest spots on shows like Hercules, Dream On, and Friends. But it was a three-line part on the military drama J.A.G. - on an episode in which her character was brutally murdered - that changed it all. Several months after that guest spot, Bell heard that the producers of J.A.G. were looking for a new female lead for the show. So she crossed her fingers and wrote a letter to executive producer Donald P. Bellisario, declaring her suitability for the role of Maj. Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie. Intrigued, Bellisario decided to take a gamble, and Bell won the part. Her chemistry with male lead David James Elliot, who plays Lt. Cmdr. Harmon "Harm" Rabb, ensured that the show, which had been struggling in the ratings, would thrive on a new network. J.A.G. now holds a steady position in Nielsen's Top 20. Her role on J.A.G. allows Bell to showcase her athletic skills - she's been kickboxing for over 10 years, and knows her way around a shooting range. In her off-camera time, her tomboyish nature comes to the fore when she throws herself into snowboarding, riding motorcycles, wakeboarding, and other extreme sports. Bell shares her Los Angeles-area home with her husband, actor Adam Beason, and their two Italian greyhounds, Leo and Zoe.
Catherine Bell has history with ''bad boys''
Catherine met her husband, Adam Beason, on the set of Death Becomes Her - she was the body double for Isabella Rossolini; he was a director's assistant to Bob Zemekis. Catherine put her phone number in Adam's pocket, but he didn't call - he thought she was kidding.
Ms. Bell had a history of going after "the bad boys" and Adam was the first nice guy she ever dated. "At first, my mind was going: 'He's boring. He's not interesting because he's so normal. He calls when he says he's going to call, shows up when he's supposed to'." Despite her attempts to discourage him, Adam, without giving up his integrity, wouldn't go away. Catherine described his persistence as: "I understand that you're under some stress, and I want you to know that I love you and I'm not going anywhere." She said, "It was the first time that I could ever just hold someone and sob about all this stuff. And it really changed me as a person. ... All of the sudden I was able to have a relationship with somebody and stay in it."
Catherine and Adam were married on the 8th of May, 1994, after having been together for two years. They live in Hollywood Hills with their two Italian Greyhounds, Leo & Zoe.
The couple enjoys safely engaging in, what some would call, dangerous and/or extreme sports. They own several motorcycles, including a Ducati acquired in 1999. The two bungee jumped off a bridge together, and in the spring of 1997, Catherine and Adam previewed the rides and attraction of an amusement park for the Travel Channel.
In addition, in April of 1999, Catherine drove in the 23rd Annual Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race in Long Beach, California. She drove the #4 car and placed 8th overall (the 2nd woman to finish). CB was among the fastest female qualifiers and replied to her presence at the race with "I'm a crazy chick."
In JAG's first season finale on NBC, Catherine appears as Lieutenant Dianne Schonke, USN. A friend of LCDR Harmon Rabb (David James Elliott) from the US Naval Academy who was murdered. When the show was renewed by CBS as a mid-season replacement, Donald P Bellisairo (JAG's Creator and Executive Producer) recast Catherine as Rabb's new partner Major Sarah MacKenzie.
Catherine has enjoyed four seasons of increasing depth in her character on JAG, now a Lieutenant Colonel. While filming JAG's 100th episode in Australia, Adam noted that "It's so bizarre being here because back home no one knows who we are when we go out. But here Catherine is so famous - she needed about six bodyguards the other day at the beach.
"It's amazing how popular she is, so we are having the greatest time being recognized."
In October 1999, Catherine joined her costars and many of JAG's crew at the inaugural JAGnik Invasion in Los Angeles. Catherine was presented with a package of Blue Mondays (a candy made by a confectioner in Kentucky) by a fan. Upon testing one, Ms. Bell announced to all in the autograph session that if Mac's uniform began to get tight, to blame the lady who brought the Blue Mondays..
In November 1999, Catherine became the first television star to be presented with The Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Research Spirit of Hollywood Award. David James Elliott presented the award to his co-star, citing that Catherine was more than deserving of the great honor. In her acceptance, she thanked her family and friends in attendance and praised the John Wayne Cancer Institute for their amazing work and assistance during her bout with non-terminal cancer.
Catherine Bell looks sexy in military uniform
Catherine is a gorgeous woman who looks great in her uniform and, well, out of it, too. She likes to shoot guns, skydive, kickbox and ride motorcycles. She wants to become a female action hero in the future -- and she probably will. In fact, she'd be perfect for the rumored Terminator 3, don't you think? (Are you reading this, Arnold?)
Playboy.com: You're a great-looking, tall woman who wears a military uniform on your show. How do you find men reacting to this?
Catherine Bell: Well, with guys in a uniform the reaction is more automatic. Men seem to love me in a uniform but are sometimes surprised what I look like out of the uniform, too. Sometimes when fans of the show see me looking sexy, they are like, "Wow, Catherine, I knew you were cute...but, wow!" I like that.
PB: Kinda like the old, sexy librarian, bait-and-switch, eh?
CB: Yes. I like to be sexy and show people I'm sexy. Whenever I go on talk shows or do photo shoots I like to dress really sexy because, well, I wear a uniform most of the time. It's good to be feminine and sexy.
PB: Well, you did show it all as a nude body double and looked quite good.
CB: Thanks. Yeah, that was fun. I got to meet Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep. I don't mind nudity when it's done tasteful and not just gratuitous T and A. They showed my butt! It was fine, though. I think the female body is beautiful.
PB: Before you got into show business you were studying to be a doctor at UCLA. What made you give it up?
CB: Well, I've always been interested in math and biology, but I wasn't really into it for a career, so I decided to give modeling a try. I went to Japan for four months and it was crazy. I was 19 at the time.
PB: Were the dirty old men harassing you?
CB: Yeah. Men would follow me down the street all the time. The men there -- most of them being businessmen in their 40s and 50s -- are super aggressive. One time this man in a business suit grabbed my breast in an elevator. I wound up slapping and hitting him and he tried to call the police. Another time this guy rode his motorcycle up to me and grabbed my butt and breast. It was crazy. They are a very repressed culture. I mean, even the nudie magazines there don't show pubic hair and they put duct tape over the girl's nipples. My friends and I went out to villages where the kids would stare at us and grab our hair like they'd never seen American women before.
PB: Yeah, but you know kickboxing, so I bet no one does that anymore.
CB: Yeah. They better watch out.
PB: What kind of fan mail do you get?
CB: Mostly really nice letters. Some stuff from guys in prisons. Believe it or not the letters from the guys in prison are really cute. They love the show. I get the odd, disgusting picture of some guy doing something weird, but my manager shields me from most of those. This one guy sends me a card for every known holiday in the world. He really wants to meet me, but I don't know about that.
PB: Ever been stalked?
CB: This limo driver who drove me once fell in love with me and kept sending me all these letters. It was weird because he knew where I lived. But nothing ever happened.
PB: You shoot guns, ride bikes, jump out of planes. Are you an adrenaline junkie?
CB: No. I just like to do stuff that's scary and exciting. I like the rush. If you do what scares you then it doesn't have any power over you anymore. I like to do what I want, ya know?
PB: What scares you right now?
CB: Flying a plane. I'd like to do that. But I don't skydive anymore because the last time I did it I crashed and got really scraped up.
PB: OK. If you could fly that plane anywhere right now, where would it be?
CB: Italy. I love it there. It's sexy, romantic, has great wine, the best pasta. The culture is amazing. The people, everything.
PB: Speaking of food, is it true that fast food helped launch your career?
CB: Yeah, I guess. God, I'd have to ask my mom, but when I was six or seven I did either a McDonald's or Jack in the Box commercial. I also did a Baskin-Robbins commercial.
PB: You were born in London. Do you still like drinking beer and hanging out at pubs?
CB: I love beer. There's nothing like having an ice-cold beer. Wine is good, too. My wild partying days of college are behind me, I think. Now if I get wild I seem to remember everything in the morning. It can be scary. For sure.
Catherine Bell is a major babe
Catherine Bell should sign an endorsement contract with the Marine Corps because she has definitely helped increase enrollment in the armed services. As one of the stars of the hit CBS show JAG, Catherine hasn't had any trouble raising her personal fan club count by a million or so sailors.
Let's admit it, the only reason JAG has lasted so long, even after having been initially cancelled on NBC, is thanks to Catherine Bell. Sure the Marines are interesting, but it's Major Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie's trial and tribulations that make viewers come back.
Life wasn't always as glamorous for Catherine though. Her showbiz start was for an American Express commercial, after enduring some trying times in Japan where she was modeling for 4 months (before gaining 20 pounds on fast food and heading home).
Her initial "big break" was playing Isabella Rossellini's body double in Death Becomes Her. (Side note, is Rossellini one of the most overrated beauties in the world, or are we just high on mushrooms?)
But one part led to another, and now she is one of CBS's few certifiable sex symbols, which they have no trouble promoting across the network. Let's just hope that if we ever do decide to join the Marine Corps, all the females... we'll let you finish that thought.
Catherine's acting skills have been tested regularly on JAG thanks to story lines that have including her dealing with being abandoned by her mother, being abused as a child, being an alcoholic, being stalked, being accused of murder, breaking up a marriage, and having her ex die in her arms.
So onscreen she has run the gamut of emotions, but offscreen she is just a normal woman. If normal means you enjoy bungee jumping, riding motorcycles, and kickboxing. In 1999, she even finished 8th overall (the 2nd woman to finish) at the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race in California.
Yes, she has a wild side but after growing up a straight-A student who even programmed computers, it is understandable that she is now rebelling, though in a goody two-shoes kind of way.
But what sets Catherine apart is her kindness. She spends most of her free time (remember JAG films 15 hours a day, 6 days a week) helping charities, most notably the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, and the Buoniconti Fund that is searching for a cure for paralysis.
If Catherine Bell's sex appeal seems to originate from her wholesome image, don't be fooled. Catherine was a bad girl, who liked to date bad boys before her current husband (where were we during those times?). But nowadays, it's her incredible eyes and figure that have our tails wagging (you can't imagine how much they are wagging). Let's just say that her chest cavity is one of the Natural Wonders of the World.
Catherine Bell's resumé isn't filled with critically-acclaimed series or films, but at least she hasn't had to resort to posing in Play.boy to bolster her career (though she has repeatedly turned them down, a giant loss for mankind).
She has had guest spots on Dream On with Brain Benben, perennial Emmy contender Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and on NBC's Friends as the head turner that caused Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc to leave a baby on the bus.
Though JAG is syndicated around the world, there is one place where the show is practically worshipped: Australia. Must be the beer games they play when the righteous lead JAG guy shows up onscreen.
Being born to a British father and Iranian mother does more than grant you dual-citizenship, it guarantees you some very unique features. And Catherine fits that bill, with a very natural and different look that isn't seen too often in Hollywood.
But our voting panel said it best: "She is a major, major babe." From her appearance on Politically Incorrect, we assume the host Bill Maher agrees, since he was regularly seen lifting his jaw from the floor. Though women are usually the ones who enjoy the opposite sex in uniforms, we don't mind any of the Marine outfits Catherine has put on. Unfortunately, she doesn't wear those outfits outside of the studio. But don't worry, her incredible style (which compliments her fantastic figure) make her a winner in our fashion books. She dresses with class and elegance that reflect her European upbringing. What a woman!
Catherine Bell supports video against gangs and bullying among youths
In honor of Universal Children’s Day on Saturday November 20th, the Founding Church of Scientology and Youth for Human Rights International is releasing a 5-minute music video dealing head-on with gang violence and bullying among youths.
Entitled UNITED, the video portrays children banding together to defeat bullies in school and playground settings and even extending friendship to a gang leader. "It is a very real portrayal of things our youth are faced with today and how to apply Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," said Rev. Susan Taylor, spokesperson for the Church. "That article that tells us that all people are born free and equal and we should act towards others in a spirit of brotherhood."
The video features cameo appearances from soul legend Isaac Hayes, movie actress Erica Christensen and TV actresses Catherine Bell, Jenna Elfman and Lynsey Bartilson. Filmed this year in 14 countries, the video also features a multi-ethnic cast of more than 150 actors, primarily youths. Mr. Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations described the work as “brilliant” and “an important contribution to human rights education”.
In Washington DC, there were 2,599 arrests of juveniles last year. “While crime statistics are improving in the DC area, the number of juveniles getting caught up in the criminal justice system is still too high. This video is aimed at this population in order to promote tolerance and respect for each other”, said Rev. Taylor. "We want to make it available widely and invite everyone to see it."
Catherine Bell's Road to J.A.G.
Sometimes I think the story of how I landed the role of Mac on J.A.G. sounds like some kind of Hollywood fairy tale, like Lana Turner being discovered at the counter at Schraft's. But it's true!
I had had one brief guest spot on J.A.G., in 1996. Well, it was more of a cameo really - I had three lines. I played Lt. Dianne Schonke, an old girlfriend of Harm's. In my second scene, Dianne was dead, and Harm was suspected of killing her.
Flash forward several months. The show had been canceled by NBC, and the producers were looking for ways to keep it going. Luckily, CBS picked it up. I heard through the grapevine that J.A.G. was looking for a new female sidekick for Harm.
I knew it was a long shot, but I had to take it: I wrote a letter to the executive producer, Donald Bellisario, stating that I was right for the part. I'll be forever grateful that Donald not only remembered me, but also realized that having Mac resemble Dianne would add a powerful dramatic subtext to Harm and Mac's relationship
J.A.G. has found a wonderful home on CBS, and the ratings have soared. I guess the moral of the story is that you shouldn't be afraid of taking a chance - whether writing a letter like I did, or making a shift in the dramatic direction of an entire show, like Donald Bellisario did. You've just got to go for it!
Catherine Bell is an adventure seeker
TWhen Catherine Bell saw videos of professional wake-boarders doing "double front flips in the air" as they catapulted over a boat wake, she thought: I can do that. "They make it look so easy," chuckles the star of the CBS drama JAG.
Bell, an inveterate adventure seeker, buckles her feet to a board, and, as she's pulled behind a boat, performs jumps and flips over its wake. After two summers of "face plants and whiplash", the 32-year-old made her first truly successful run on the board. "Now I'm cutting back and forth getting spray," she explains.
Wakeboarding has become Bell's sport of choice. "It's hard to get myself to workout, but [wakeboarding] is so much fun I don't mind," she says. Plus "it works every muscle in your body: your lats, your arms, you butt, all the way down. You're pulling against a 3,000-pound boat."