Kelly Monaco

Kelly Monaco Headshot

Actress • Model • Personality • Playmate

Birth Date: May 23, 1976

Age: 48 years old

Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When former Playboy model and soap siren Kelly Monaco "shook what her mamma gave her" on the dance floor of TV's summer hit "Dancing with the Stars," she went from respectable but minor-league fame in soap circles to booming overnight fame on a massive scale. Suddenly the 29 year-old actress was everywhere--defending her title on talk shows, giving interviews to papers around the world, glistening on the cover of Maxim. The attention seemed welcomed by the starlet who had been trying to break into the big time for years. Instead of landing that one perfect role, no one--certainly not Monaco herself--would have dreamed winning a celebrity dance-off would do the trick.

Born in Philadelphia on May 23, 1976 to an Italian-Catholic family, Monaco grew up in the peaceful Pokonos, where along with her five sisters, she excelled in soccer, swimming, softball and other sports - though, ironically, not dance. A proud competitor from birth, Monaco also participated in high school speech, debate and theater.

The dark-haired beauty yearned to act professionally and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1990s to pursue her dreams of stardom. Like many pretty girls trying to break into the biz, Monaco posed nude for Playboy, earning Playmate of the Month status in April, 1997. Like all dutiful centerfolds, Monaco's first experience in front of a moving camera was starring in numerous Playboy-produced home videos including gems like "Playboy: Video Playmate Calendar 1998" (1997) and "Playboy: Girls Next Door" (1997).

In 1989, Monaco landed her first real acting role during the 1997-98 season of "Baywatch," playing a rookie lifeguard. Having been a lifeguard in real life, her toned athleticism came in handy on set for the first, but certainly not last, time. Monaco's streak continued when she scored minor roles in the feature films "BASEketball" (1998), "Idle Hands" (1999) and "Mumford" (1999). She continued to appear in Playboy videos such as "Playboy: Babes of Baywatch" (1998) -- her loyalty to her first employer obvious.

In 1999, Monaco landed her dream part at that time--Olivia "Livvie" Locke Morley on the "General Hospital" soap opera spin-off, "Port Charles" (1997-2003). She took on a second role, that of Tess Ramsey, during the 2002-03 season. Her skill in playing dual roles earned Monaco a Daytime Emmy Award nomination in 2003 for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Although she did not win, her looks, talent and already built-in fan base served her well when the low-rated spin-off was cancelled later that year.

ABC knew they had a potential star in their midst, so in September, 2003, they cast Monaco immediately on their flagship soap, "General Hospital" (1963- )--a canny career move, as many stars had used the legendary daytime drama as a springboard to fame, including Demi Moore, Ricky Martin, John Stamos, Rick Springfield and Amber Tamblyn. Playing reformed bad girl, Samantha "Sam" McCall, Monaco filled a dark-haired vixen role that had remained vacant since the departure of fan favorite, Vanessa Marcil (Brenda Barrett) five years before.

Although tough shoes to fill, Monaco did so with apparent ease. Fans latched onto the new face and the chemistry she ignited--like Marcil before her--with the soap's biggest stud, gangster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Bernard). In an unusual move, "GH" producers cast her in dual roles yet again. In addition to McCall, Monaco also portrayed Alicia Montenegro.

In early 2005, Monaco signed on as a contestant for a celebrity dance competition series to air in the summer on ABC. The premise: minor celebrities who are willing to learn to dance and quite possibly look foolish in front of millions, couple up with professional hoofers, while America votes. Learning to dance and look good doing it drove Monaco to reach back and draw on that competitive high school spirit.

Dancing opposite her partner, Alec Mazo, Monaco appeared frazzled and gangly during her first performance, causing the judges to harshly critique her moves. Undaunted by neither her initial stumble nor her diminutive 5' 3" height, Monaco improved each week while other perceived shoe-ins got the ax. Monaco suffered her own Janet Jackson-style "wardrobe malfunction" during the quarterfinal round, when during a samba, her dress fell down off her shoulder but Monaco kept covered up and finished the dance, garnering respect from judges and viewers alike.

By the second to the last episode, it came to a showdown between Monaco and actor John O'Hurley (J. Peterman of "Seinfeld" fame). In July 2005, Monaco became America's new dancing queen. Unfortunately, many assumed the contest was fixed, due to her ABC affiliation, so fans--and no doubt ABC, who smelled a profit--demanded a rematch, echoed by the seemingly competitive and cleverly showboating O'Hurley.

Back to "GH" by day, dance rehearsals by night for the new star, who defended her title every chance she got in print and TV interviews. But there appeared no hard feelings between her and O'Hurley, with the latter making a ratings grabbing cameo on "GH" in the fall. Even with the rematch looming, Monaco's stock went way up. She appeared on a steamy cover of Maxim magazine, tabloids began adding her to their fashion files and "GH" even added not-so-subtle dance routines to Samantha McCall's repertoire.

In September 2005, Monaco, O'Hurley and their respective partners once again tripped the light fantastic during a live program. Three days later, Monaco lost her crown to a jubilant O'Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jorgensen. No matter: "Dancing with the Stars" had put Monaco front and center. Rumors even began swirling that she might jump ship to ABC's biggest primetime hit, "Desperate Housewives," but no official word yet. Despite the loss, Monaco's growing fame seemed assured.

By Jenna Girard

Credits

General Hospital: 60 Years of Stars and Storytelling

Self
Special
2024

Bethenny

Guest
Talk
2013

Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars

Contestant
Show
2012

Katie

Guest
Talk
2012

Baby DaddyStream

Guest Star
Series
2012

The Chew

Guest
Talk
2011

Dirty Soap

Actor
Show
2011

Edge of the GardenStream

Actor
Julie
Movie
2011

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

Sins of the Father

Actor
Samantha "Sam" McCall
Show
2010

Miss USA 2009

Judge
Show
2009

The Wendy Williams Show

Guest
Talk
2008

The 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

Host
Show
2006

SOAPnet Selects: The Best of '06

Actor
Show
2006

Dancing With the StarsStream

Guest
Reality
2005

Port Charles Tuesday

Actor
Show
2003

Port Charles Monday

Actor
Show
2003

Port Charles Today

Actor
Show
2003

Last Call With Carson Daly

Guest
Talk
2002

Live With Regis and Kelly

Guest
Show
2001

Playboy's Club Lingerie

Actor
Show
2000

One Life to Live Yesterday

Actor
Show
2000

Mumford

Actor
Marisa, the Landlady's Daughter
Movie
1999

Port Charles

Actor
Olivia "Livvie" Locke
Soap
1997

Port Charles Friday

Actor
Show
1997

Port Charles Thursday

Actor
Show
1997

Port Charles Wednesday

Actor
Show
1997

Port Charles Yesterday

Actor
Show
1997

Spin CityStream

Guest Star
Series
1996
69%

The Oprah Winfrey ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1986

General HospitalStream

Actor
Samantha "Sam" McCall
Soap
1963

General Hospital Friday

Actor
Show
1963

General Hospital Monday

Actor
Show
1963

General Hospital Thursday

Actor
Show
1963

General Hospital Today

Actor
Show
1963

General Hospital Tuesday

Actor
Show
1963

General Hospital Wednesday

Actor
Show
1963

General Hospital Yesterday

Actor
Show
1963

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