Holly Marie Combs
|Holly Marie Combs|
Combs at the London Film and Comic Convention in July 2012
|Born||(1973-12-03) December 3, 1973
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Professional Children’s School|
|Occupation||Actress, television producer|
Holly Marie Combs (born December 3, 1973) is an American actress and television producer. She is known for her roles as Kimberly Brock in the CBS series Picket Fences (1992–1996), Piper Halliwell in The WB series Charmed (1998–2006), and Ella Montgomery in the Freeform series Pretty Little Liars (2010–2017).
Combs was born in San Diego, California and has described herself as being of Irish descent. At the time of her birth, her mother, Lauralei Combs (née Berckhem), was sixteen years old and her father was seventeen. Combs’s biological parents married, but the two split up after two years, feeling they were too young to make a marriage work. While Combs was learning to walk, she hit her head on a marble table, resulting in a scar over her right eyebrow. She went through many different homes with her mother, near the beach in San Diego often having very little privacy, while her mother attempted to pursue an acting career. When Combs was seven, she and her mother moved to New York City where she spent most of her growing years. She was 12 when her mother married her stepfather. In New York City, Combs attended Beekman Hill Elementary and then the Professional Children’s School. In an interview when she was in Sydney, Australia for Supanova, she said that she was a certified Scuba Diver at 13.
Early work: 1988–1997
When she was 14 years old, Combs landed her first major role in Sweet Hearts Dance (1988), a comedy drama film directed by Robert Greenwald. She played Debs Boon, the daughter of Wiley Boon (played by Don Johnson) and Sandra Boon (played by Susan Sarandon). Her next major role was in Oliver Stone‘s Born on the Fourth of July (1989), a film adaptation of the best selling autobiography of the same name by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Combs portrayed Jenny in the film, which also starred Tom Cruise. Her other roles included Helena in the 1989 anthology film New York Stories, and Kim Fields in Hal Hartley‘s Simple Men (1992). Also in 1992, Combs made an appearance in Temístocles López‘s Chain of Desire as Diana, and in the slasher film Dr. Giggles, in which she played Jennifer Campbell, the 19-year-old daughter of Tom Campbell (played by Cliff De Young) and girlfriend of Max Anderson (played by Glenn Quinn).
Combs’s first major breakthrough as an actress came at the age of 18, in the CBS television series Picket Fences. She portrayed Kimberly Brock, the daughter of Sheriff Jimmy Brock (played by Tom Skerritt) and his first wife Lydia for the show’s four seasons (1992–96). Jimmy’s second wife, Dr. Jill Brock (played by Kathy Baker), is her step-mother. Combs auditioned for the role in New York. The casting agent told her that she wasn’t right for the part because she “didn’t have a big enough heart.” Combs retorted, “If you’re looking for someone with a big heart, what the hell are you doing in New York?”. She was later called back and offered the job. Combs won a Young Artist Award for her performance on the show. During 1996, Combs starred as Sophie DiMatteo in Sins of Silence, a drama/horror television film directed by Sam Pillsbury. The following year, Combs portrayed real-life convicted murderer Diane Zamora in the television film Love’s Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder, and appeared in the fact-based drama film Daughters as Alex Morell, one of the two daughters of a murdered heiress.
Later work: 1998–present
In 1998, Combs landed a lead role in The WB television series Charmed, in which she portrayed Piper Halliwell, the middle of three sisters who are witches. Following Shannen Doherty‘s departure after season three (2000–01), Combs’s character became the eldest sister for the remaining five seasons of the show. Combs also became a producer for Charmed from season five onwards. The series ended its run on May 21, 2006. In 2008, AOL named Combs’s character Piper the third greatest witch in television history. Combs is the only cast member to appear in the unaired pilot and every episode of the series.
During Charmed, Combs made a cameo appearance in Steven Soderbergh‘s Ocean’s Eleven (2001), and starred opposite Charisma Carpenter in the romantic comedy film See Jane Date (2003), portraying the role of “a struggling actress whose career benefits from an affair with an A-list actor.” In 2007, she starred in the Lifetime television film Point of Entry (also titled Panic Button) as Kathy Alden, a wife and mother of a single child whose family moves to a “beautiful and supposedly secure gated community after she’s the victim of a violent house break-in.” The following year, Combs signed a contract with Lifetime to produce and star in a series Mistresses, based on the British series of the same name. However, that version of the show never made it to air. (ABC later made a version featuring Combs’s former Charmed co-star Alyssa Milano.) In 2010, Combs was cast in the Freeform series Pretty Little Liars as Ella Montgomery, the mother of one of the main characters, Aria Montgomery (played by Lucy Hale). Combs was a series regular for the first three seasons, but beginning in season four, became credited as a special guest star.
On July 24, 2014, it was announced that Combs and Doherty would be starring in their own road trip reality show called Off the Map with Shannen & Holly, which premiered on Great American Country on January 2, 2015. The six-episode series follows the pair traveling across southeastern United States, with stops in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Viewers were able to vote on activities Doherty and Combs would partake in at each destination on Great American Country’s official website.
In 2016, Combs starred in a television movie Love’s Complicated, playing the lead role Leah. The film premiered on the Hallmark Channel on January 9, 2016.
In 1993, she married actor Bryan Travis Smith; they divorced in 1997.
On February 14, 2004, she married her long-time boyfriend and the former Charmed key-grip David Donoho. They are the parents of three sons: Finley Arthur Donoho (born April 26, 2004), Riley Edward Donoho (born October 26, 2006), and Kelley James Donoho (born May 26, 2009), all born by Caesarian section (Kelley was an emergency C-section). Combs kept her third pregnancy a secret because it was high risk, with a delivery at 35 weeks. In November 2011, she filed for divorce from Donoho, citing irreconcilable differences.
|1985||Walls of Glass||Abby Hall||Classmate|
|1988||Sweet Hearts Dance||Dens Boon|
|1989||New York Stories||Helena||Costume Party Girl|
|Born on the Fourth of July||Jenny Turner|
|1991||Nobody Can Hear You Scream||Melinda Ashwood|
|1992||Simple Men||Kim Fields|
|Dr. Giggles||Jennifer Campbell||Lead role|
|Chain of Desire||Diana Richards|
|1995||A Reason to Believe||Sharon Digby||Independent movie|
|Evil in the Basement||Karen Ford|
|1990||Guiding Light||Louisa Young||2 episodes|
|1991–1994||As the World Turns||Denise Jones||5 episodes|
|1992–1996||Picket Fences||Kimberly Brock||Main role (83 episodes)|
|1994||A Perfect Stranger||Amanda Hale||Television movie (NBC)|
|Island City||Erin Sloan||Television movie (PTEN)|
|1996||Sins of Silence||Sophie DiMattio||Television movie (CBS); lead role|
|1997||Love’s Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder||Diane Zamora||Television movie (NBC); lead role|
|Our Mother’s Murder||Alex Morell||Television movie (Lifetime); lead role|
|Relativity||Anne Pryce||Episode (1.14): “Billable Hours”|
|1998–2006||Charmed||Piper Halliwell||Lead role (179 episodes)
Producer (seasons 5–8)
|2003||See Jane Date||Natasha Nutley||Television movie (ABC Family); co-lead role|
|2007||Panic Button (original title Point of Entry)||Katherine Alden||Television movie (Lifetime); lead role|
|2010–2017||Pretty Little Liars||Ella Montgomery||Regular role: seasons 1–3
Special guest star: seasons 4–7 (63 episodes)
|2014||Hell’s Kitchen||Herself||Season 12 Episode 6: “15 Chefs Compete”; Blue kitchen VIP guest|
|2015||Off the Map with Shannen & Holly||Herself||Great American Country reality series (6 episodes)|
|2016||Love’s Complicated||Leah Townsend||Television movie (Hallmark Channel); lead role|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Association||Category||Title of work||Result||Ref.|
|1993||Young Artist Awards||Best Young Actress in a New Television Series||Picket Fences||Won|||
|1994||Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Television Series||Nominated|||
|1995||Best Performance by a Youth Actress in a TV Mini-Series or Special||A Perfect Stranger||Nominated|||
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Picket Fences||Nominated|||
|2001||RATTY Awards||Outstanding Ensemble in a Science Fiction Series||Charmed||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Science Fiction Series||Nominated|
|2002||Best Science Fiction Lead Actress||Nominated|||
|2007||AOL TV||Top TV Witches (Piper Halliwell)||3rd|||
|2011||E! Online||Top 10 Most Bitchin’ Witches (Piper Halliwell)||6th|||
|2016||The Huffington Post||Top 10 Greatest Witches of All Time (Piper Halliwell)||6th|||