Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
California Dreams, Baywatch, The Wonder Years
Currently Known For:
1990 - Present
If you grew up as a pre-teen in the early 1990s, there’s a good chance that you were watching “The Wonder Years”. A few years later, when you were a teenager, you might have made the transition into watching “Baywatch” after the “Wonder Years” came to an end. If you did watch both shows, you likely saw Kelly Packard, who had a brief role in the former show, but a long lived role in the latter.
Packard was born in Glendale, California on January 29, 1975 and got her first taste of being on television, not as an actor, but as a game show contestant when she appeared on “Card Sharks”. It wasn’t too much longer afterward that Packard would develop her acting skills, making her first appearance on television as Debbie in an episode of “Living Dolls” in 1989.
The second ever role for Packard would come in the form of the popular series “The Wonder Years”. It would only be for one episode, but Packard joined the long list of young actors that would go on to have careers thanks in part to “The Wonder Years”. In the season three episode titled “Don’t You Know Anything About Women?”, Packard plays the role of Susan Fisher. Main character Kevin Arnold (played by Fred Savage) wants to ask her to the school dance, but backs out and ends up going with Linda (played by Maia Brewton).
After her brief role in “The Wonder Years”, Packard’s first role would come in a pair of episodes on the popular sitcom “Blossom” and a cameo appearance in the movie “And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird”. In 1991, at just 16 years old, Packard would have two appearances on “Baywatch” as Joanie, and in 1992 simply as a character named Girl. Later that year, she’d get her biggest gig up to that point, becoming a series regular named Tiffani Anne Smith on “California Dreams”.
The series was centered more toward the teenage market, and Packard held the role down for nearly 80 episodes while making appearances on shows such as “Step By Step” and “Boy Meets World”. In 1995, Packard would return to “Baywatch”, but was continuing to play one-off characters. Finally, in 1997, Packard became a regular member of the cast, playing April Giminski for the rest of the 1990s.
Though she appeared on “The Wonder Years”, “Baywatch” continues to be her most memorable role for many fans. When she arrived to audition for a regular role, Packard didn’t think that she was going to be cast. “There was a room of Pamela Anderson-looking women,” she said. “I was like, ‘Why am I in there? They’re not going to here me.’ Turns out I was the only one there for my part – all those girls were there for the part that Carmen Electra ended up doing.”
Heading into the 2000s, Packard would reduce her workload and only appeared in a handful of credits in the early 2000s. In 2002, she was in “Auto Focus” and then took a break from acting for eight years. At that point, she had been married for five years to a doctor named Darrin Privett, and the couple focused on starting a family. In 2004, they’d have their first child, a daughter named Aubrey.
In Packard’s own words, she says that her focus isn’t all about being in front of the camera anymore these days. Now married for more than 20 years and having four children since 2004, Packard still has “a passion for acting, (though) it has taken a backseat these days,” she said. “I do find being a stay at home mom to be the most rewarding job to date.” So if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen Packard much over the past decade, it’s because family has come first.
Packard’s most recent film appearance would come in 2010’s “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend”, a romantic comedy starring Alyssa Milano. She’s also appeared in a pair of TV movies in the past three years with “Stalked By My Neighbor” and “Family Vanished” with guest roles on the shows “Better Things” and “Freakish”, which were her first appearances on television since she was a co-host on the documentary series “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” from 2002 to 2003.
As for that role that she shared with Dean Cain, the audition process was a breeze compared to “Baywatch”. “They asked me if I’d be interested,” she said. “And I’m a fan of the show, so it was a no-brainer. And I was actually told by Dean that I got the part. And it was such a great day.” So far in her career, it’s actually been her favorite job (outside of being a mother), and went as far as saying that it was “the greatest job I’ll ever have,” and that acting took a back seat because it was fun, and had an easy schedule.