While many know Jenny McCarthy as an actor, activist, television personality and brass-tacks broad, it’s now easy to forget that her road to success started with Playboy. The Evergreen, Ill., native got her first break when she was named October 1993 Playmate of the Month. She certainly had the requisite assets–long, blonde hair, a beautiful face and killer bod. But among dozens of buxom blondes, it was McCarthy’s unabashed humor and charisma that helped land the coveted 1994 Playmate of the Year title.
Hugh Hefner and his team weren’t the only pop culture arbiters to notice. McCarthy was cast as host of 1990s dating game Singled Out on MTV just one year later. Her fun-loving personality and her make-you-blush approach stole the show. (She was known to playfully slap male contestants around—and they loved it.)
But McCarthy wasn’t only about poking fun at others. More often than not, the no-filter funny girl would take a self-depreciating hit or pratfall—whatever it took to get a laugh. And over the next few years that commitment to comedy helped her land a number of roles in film, including BASEketball, Scream 3 and Scary Movie 3.
While she has appeared in dozens of roles in film and television (including Two and a Half Men and The Bad Girl’s Guide), McCarthy is perhaps most loved as herself. As host of The Jenny McCarthy Show and The View and the stand-up comedy show Jenny McCarthy’s Dirty Sexy Funny, McCarthy’s wit and unapologetic straight-talk have been lauded.
Though McCarthy had achieved a level of success that might lead some to abandon their beginnings, she never left Playboy, and she continued to model for the magazine, appearing in features in January 2005 and June 2012. McCarthy also got behind the lens for Playboy as the first Playmate celebrity photographer for the Cyber Club.
McCarthy has frequented the New York Times Best Seller list as author of nine books (such as Love, Lust, and Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance), in which she often says what others won’t by giving a humorous and honest look at the shared female experience. She has also served as an outspoken and quite controversial advocate for children suffering with autism, a developmental disorder that has affected her own family.
McCarthy may have started her career in the spotlight by baring her body, but in countless projects and roles since she has consistently strived to be funny while also being unafraid to share her views.