Karen Valentine
Date of Birth
May 25, 1947
Birth Place:
Sebastopol, CA

Biography

Yes, Karen Valentine is her real name; her Portuguese grandfather had Anglicized his surname of Valentin long before Karen was born. Her lifelong "nice-girl" reputation had its roots in her wholesome upbringing on a Sebastopol, California chicken ranch, and her straight-A high-school years, when she was a member in good standing of the Future Teachers of America. Unhappy with being regarded as too squeaky-clean for words, Valentine went out of her way to perform "hot" musical numbers while competing in such talent-and-beauty contests as Miss Teenage Santa Rosa and Miss Sonoma Country. While she never made Miss America, she did manage to make two appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show before reaching the age of 20. While acting in summer stock, she continued seeking out roles that would allow her to shed her goody-goody image. To keep her checkbook balanced between acting assignments, she worked as a model, waitress and switchboard operator. In 1969, Valentine was cast as well-meaning if slightly klutzy student teacher Alice Johnson on the weekly TV series Room 222, winning an Emmy Award for her efforts. A proven audience favorite, she starred in such lightweight TV-movies as Gidget Grows Up (1970), The Girl Who Came Gift-Wrapped (1972) and Coffee, Tea or Me (1973), and was a regular contributor to such daytime programs as Dinah's Place and The Hollywood Squares. Once her star had begun to fade, Valentine was finally able to break loose from her "America's sweetheart" image and attempt to play roles with depth and bite. But such TV series as Karen (1975) and Our Time (1985) were not enthusiastically received by viewers, nor were her laudable dramatic performances in such made-for-TV fare as Muggable Mary, Street Cop (1982) world-beaters in the ratings. From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, Karen Valentine maintained an on-and-off relationship with the Disney studios, co-starring in such theatrical features as Hot Lead and Cold Feet and The North Avenue Irregulars (1979), and in Disney Sunday Movie TV presentations bearing titles like Skeezer (1987) and Perfect People (1988). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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