The end of a millennium, the beginning of Shannon Elizabeth’s reputation as a sex symbol. After having simulated sex with a snowman in 1997’s Jack Frost and appearing in various stages of undress in 1999’s American Pie, she posed nude for Playboy that same year.
“There was no direction when we shot that scene,” Shannon told Maxim about undressing in American Pie. “They were, like, ‘Uh, you know what to do, right?’ Everybody was worried because my boyfriend was on the set. When I took my top off, he yelled, ‘Hey, my girlfriend is naked!’ The crew was spooked, and he had to tell them he couldn’t care less. Meanwhile I was, like, ‘Hello, naked girl working over here!’”
And while she appeared on on That ’70s Show and in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Scary Movie and actual scary movies Thirteen Ghosts, Cursed and Night of the Demons, she kept her sex appeal going strong with a Maxim cover appearance, hosting the burlesque-and-live-comedy show Live Nude Comedy and by walking the red carpet at the MTV Music Awards wearing a see-through crop top and pants.
And then there’s her poker face. Shannon calls poker her “second career” and, at certain points in time, has regularly traveled to Las Vegas to compete—including in the World Series of Poker. She cites her good looks as a competitive advantage, telling Blender magazine, “A lot of men get lost in their cards if you introduce a decent distraction.”
Among the men she’s “distracted,” with or without the help of poker: actor Joseph Reitman, who she was married to from 2002 to 2005; Derek Hough, her partner on Dancing with the Stars; and hip-hop magnate Russell Simmons, whom she’s been dating since 2014.
The couple shares Shannon’s passionate beliefs in environmental protection and veganism. She also advocates for pet adoption and reducing pet overpopulation. She has served as the spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt A Turkey” program, which suggests that people take in a turkey at Thanksgiving—instead of eating one.
“If I see a stray dog in the street, I just can’t leave it there,” Shannon told Maxim in 2000, when she was the proud owner of six dogs. “If I can catch it or lure it into the car with a candy bar, I’m going to rescue it.”