Melissa Rauch came a long way before landing the role of Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory. Even after graduating from theater school, the young actress had to work hard to be taken seriously as a performer, and waited tables in New York City for a steady paycheck while handing out fliers on the street in hopes that anyone would come see her perform. While Rauch did book some TV roles — like a recurring spot on VH1’s Best Week Ever — many of her early creative endeavors never made it to the screen. “I was so grateful when [The Big Bang Theory] happened,” Rauch told Backstage. According to Rauch, her role on the CBS show was only supposed to be a guest appearance. However, when the show’s writers had her character get engaged to Howard Wolowitz, Rauch realized that she had finally landed a recurring role in the comedy world as part of the watched comedy on television (via The Los Angeles Independent).
While the wildly popular series came to an end in 2019, it’s safe to say it started off Rauch’s career with a bang (pun totally intended). Here’s a look at the stunning transformation of Melissa Rauch.
Melissa Rauch was obsessed with comedy as a kid
Melissa Rauch knew she was in for a life of laughs when she became obsessed with comedy in kindergarten. “I remember my parents said that there are people who do impersonations for a living,” she revealed on At Home with Linda & Drew Scott. As Rauch explained to the HGTV stars, her parents’ words of encouragement are what inspired her to make comedy her career.
While Rauch wasn’t allowed to stay up past her bedtime, her parents would record late night talk shows for the coming-up comedian so she could see her favorites on screen. Soon, Rauch was given the opportunity to show off her comedy chops at her school’s talent show. During a 2016 interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Rauch revealed that she prepared a stand-up set the school showcase.
Speaking to Conan O’Brien in 2012, the actress said she was quite the class clown. “I would watch sets of, like, Whoopi Goldberg, and do things that were wildly inappropriate that I really didn’t understand.” In fact, as Rauch admitted, her parents were often called in to her school due to her raunchy jokes and wild behavior. Oops!Melissa Rauch spent her childhood honing her comedic abilities — and when it was time to start her college career, the future star enrolled in a university that would help her develop her skill even more. However, she had to pack up her bags (as well as her jokes) and move from her small town in New Jersey to New York City to make it happen.
During her time at Marymount Manhattan College, Rauch became classically trained in theater and performance; but her thick New Jersey accent seemed a bit out of place for what she was performing. As Rauch explained on At Home with Linda & Drew Scott, professors even told her she couldn’t “do Shakespeare” with her accent.
To help break her accent so that she’d be taken seriously by her peers and professors, the budding actress enrolled in a dialect class. This helped Rauch expand her range as both a classically trained performer and aspiring stand-up comedian — and soon the future star was impressing her classmates by performing SNL-worthy impressions of famous people.Melissa Rauch might have been super focused on achieving her comedy goals while in college, but that doesn’t mean she was too busy to make new friends. In fact, chasing her dreams as both an aspiring comedian and college student led Rauch to meet screenwriter Winston Beigel – a man who would later become quite important to the future star.
Upon discovering they both had similar comedic aspirations, Rauch and Beigel decided to team up for even more creative brain power and began writing together on a regular basis. As Rauch told Backstage, writing quickly became essential to who she was as an artist. “I didn’t care if five people saw it—[writing] feeds the creative part of me and gets to the goods of why you’re doing this,” the actress revealed.
These writing sessions led to the funny duo spending quite a bit of time together, as Rauch admitted on At Home with Linda & Drew Scott. And in an adorably romantic turn of events, the man who started as Rauch’s writing partner eventually became her life partner.As Melissa Rauch admitted on the podcast At Home with Linda & Drew Scott, she and Winston Beigel didn’t know each other all too well when they decided to become partners in comedy. “[We] were barely, I mean, barely friends when we actually started writing together,” the comedic actress revealed.
However, their barely-there friendship didn’t stay that way for long. Even though the two are known more for comedy than romance, they found themselves in a real life love story while they were both still students, and eventually went on to wed in 2007 (via MSN). “He is my best friend and the love of my life, in addition to being an incredible writing partner,” Rauch gushed to New Jersey Monthly.
Writing aside, Rauch is happy she met her soulmate so early on in her life. “The only thing I regret is not meeting him even sooner, as my life has just gotten better since he came into it,” Rauch said on At Home with Linda & Drew Scott. One thing’s for sure — these two will definitely have a lifetime full of love and laughter!
Melissa Rauch starred in a one-woman show inspired by a certain first daughter
When Melissa Rauch and Winston Beigel graduated from college, they began working together on a story about a college kid trying to make it in the real world. Obviously, the two had been inspired by their own experiences as college kids; however, something about their story just wasn’t working.
Fortunately, while watching television on their couch one random day, they finally discovered what their story was missing. “We saw Jenna Bush speaking at the Republican Convention on TV, and she was about the same age as us,” Rauch explained on At Home with Linda & Drew Scott. The actress continued, saying, “And we got the idea to sort of combine her story, a fictional story about her, with [our story].” This resulted in a one-woman show called The Miss Education of Jenna Bush, starring Rauch.
After performing The Miss Education of Jenna Bush at the New York International Fringe Festival, Rauch was approached by an agent. Knowing this was her shot, she and Beigel decided to move to Los Angeles, California. “That was essentially what got me out of waiting tables,” Rauch admitted to Linda and Drew Scott.Though Melissa Rauch’s big move to Los Angeles came after her one-woman show in New York City proved to be a hit, the actress continued to struggle to find jobs that would stick. Once, she auditioned to be a hand model for a TGI Friday’s commercial, but even her hands couldn’t make the cut (via Backstage). “I was doing a lot of driving around, crying in my car,” she admitted on Entertainment Tonight about her time in Hollywood.
Throughout all the rejections, she continued to write with her husband, Winston Beigel, as it helped her stay busy and keep her mind off rejection. “[Writing is] such a great way to feel like you’re not at the mercy of such a hard, hard industry,” Rauch told Backstage.
It wasn’t until she received a call to audition for a new television sitcom called The Big Bang Theory that her life quickly turned around. “I was at the unemployment office the day before I got the audition for this show,” Rauch told Entertainment Tonight.
The Big Bang Theory kicked off Melissa Rauch’s career
In 2009, Melissa Rauch was offered the role of Bernadette Rostenkowski on The Big Bang Theory; however, it was initially intended to only be a guest appearance during the show’s third season.
“I thought I was just gonna be here for a week,” Rauch told TV Insider. However, as Bernadette’s love interest, Howard Wolowitz, fell in love with her, the producers on the show fell in love with Rauch too. Finally, after years of struggling to break into entertainment, Rauch was offered a recurring role on the popular sitcom, which ended up lasting nearly a decade. “The fact that I know I have a job to come back to after the summer is such a dream come true,” Rauch said in a 2014 interview on Larry King Now.
Not only did Rauch receive a consistent gig, but she got her break into show business on what would become the longest multi-camera comedy in television history (via Deadline). Her time in the spotlight was just taking off into stardom. “I’m just eternally grateful for the course that [The Big Bang Theory] put my life on,” Rauch told Entertainment Tonight.As Melissa Rauch revealed in a 2016 interview with Backstage, when she originally auditioned for The Big Bang Theory, she did so using a Canadian accent.
Though this accent didn’t stick, the impersonations she practiced as a kid and the dialect classes she took in college did come in handy for creating a unique voice for Bernadette. “Bernadette’s voice is very similar to my mother’s … except without the Jersey accent.” Rauch revealed on The Rubin Report.
When fans find Rauch out and about, they’re usually shocked to hear the actress respond in a much lower register than her famed character. “Sometimes I’ll get recognized, and then they’ll hear my voice, and be like, ‘Oh, that’s not — that’s not you,'” Rauch told Dave Rubin.While Melissa Rauch was finding her voice on The Big Bang Theory, she was also creating unique voices for cartoon characters. In fact, Rauch’s impressive impressions and vocal range led to her landing roles in Ice Age: Collision Course, Sofia the First, and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. “You approach doing [voiceover work] the same way you would any other acting role,” Rauch explained to The Movie Times. The actress continued, joking, “Except for the fact that you don’t have to wear makeup, and you do it without Spanx.”
When she landed the role of the bad gal in Batman and Harley Quinn, Rauch used her Jersey roots for inspiration. “I knew Harley had a higher pitched tone, and a bit of a New York accent,” she explained to Empire. Rauch continued, saying, “I come from a New Jersey family where everyone could be former gun molls, [so] I wanted to give a nod to my background without being as shrill.”
Apparently, you can take a girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey accent out of the girl.
Melissa Rauch created her own starring role
Sony Pictures Classics
Melissa Rauch loved starring on The Big Bang Theory — but, during her off seasons, she found herself wanting to star on the big screen. So, the actress decided to take things into her own hands and write her own film with husband Winston Beigel. Rauch explained her thought process to Vanity Fair, saying, “Okay, well, I may not be getting the film roles I want, so let’s create them.”
And create them, she did! Rauch and her husband soon came up with an idea for a film about a one-time Olympic bronze medalist who, years later, refuses to stop living in her past glory days. Appropriately titled The Bronze, the film proved to be a hard sell, as many producers argued they needed a big box office name for the flick to be a success. However, Rauch knew the lead role inside and out, so she and Beigel financed it themselves until they were finally able to sell it to Sony Pictures Classics (via Backstage).
“I don’t know that this role would have come along for me had I not written it with my husband,” Rauch admitted to Vanity Fair.
Melissa Rauch went on to star alongside her idols on the big screen
Melissa Rauch is proof that hard work, faith in yourself, and a little luck from the universe is sometimes all you need to succeed.
Speaking with Fountain Interviews in 2012, Rauch gushed about one of her biggest acting idols, saying, “Meryl Streep, I just look up to so much.” Like many performers, Rauch had long dreamed of working with the iconic Streep — so imagine her excitement when she was finally given the chance to live out her dream seven years later.
Just as Rauch was wrapping up her time on The Big Bang Theory – which came to an end in 2019 – she landed the opportunity to star in The Laundromat. Distributed by Netflix and released in 2019, The Laundromat tells the true story of a journalist, played by Streep, who investigated the 2016 Panama Papers scandal. (via Variety). “Working with and being in the presence of [director] Steven Soderbergh and Meryl Streep was nothing short of a dream come true,” Rauch gushed about the experience on Instagram.
Melissa Rauch’s journey to motherhood wasn’t easy
Melissa Rauch is a mother now, but her journey to parenthood was not an easy one. When she first became pregnant in 2017, it was both an exciting and emotional time. Instead of announcing it on Instagram as most ecstatic expectant mothers do, she penned a personal essay for Glamour, describing the miscarriage she had experienced before finally expecting her daughter, Sadie.
“During the time when I was grieving over my pregnancy loss or struggling with fertility issues, every joyful, expectant baby announcement felt like a tiny stab in the heart,” she wrote, explaining how she didn’t want other women to feel the same way when she announced her exciting news.
The story of her second baby didn’t seem to be any easier. When Rauch gave birth to her son Brooks in 2020, she found herself in the hospital room without her husband, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, she wasn’t afraid. “I won’t be alone,” she penned in a second essay for Glamour. Rauch continued, writing, “I have a partner. The same one that’s been listening to my heartbeat inside me for nine months.” Shortly after Melissa Rauch gave birth to her daughter, the new mama became inspired to eat healthier.
In 2019, Rauch partnered with the health food brand House Foods to create a children’s picture cookbook called The Tales of Tofu. “I was excited to figure out a fun way to introduce kids to a less familiar, but incredibly good-for-you-food that’s so versatile,” she told Parade of one of her personal favorite foods. While tofu notoriously gets a bad rap due to its chewy texture and barely-there flavor, Rauch was determined to make tofu appealing to children by crafting recipes that incorporated tofu in surprising, creative ways.
“I was excited to include chocolate pudding in the book,” Rauch told Parade. The actress continued, saying, “It feels like you’re eating something so decadent and it’s actually good for you, so that’s something that I love.” As delicious as that sounds, it’s hard to imagine kids wanting to eat tofu every day.
Melissa Rauch has her handprint on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Melissa Rauch might have been turned away when she auditioned to be a hand model for a TGI Fridays commercial (via Backstage), but now her hands are forever immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
The day after filming the series finale of The Big Bang Theory in April 2019, Rauch and her castmates, including star Kaley Cuoco, had the honor of stamping their handprints into cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California (via The Los Angeles Independent). “As if being a part of [The Big Bang Theory] wasn’t enough of an honor of a lifetime, getting to share this moment at the [Chinese Theater] with these wonderful friends today was truly incredible,” Rauch gushed on Twitter.
There’s no arguing that The Big Bang Theory solidified a place for Rauch in the entertainment industry — and the breakout star has said she’s looking forward to what the rest of her career has in store. “My heart has been so happy working on this show, and I want to continue to do something that makes my heart happy,” Rauch revealed in a 2019 interview with Parade.
Born on Nov. 30, 1985, Cuoco was an aspiring actress from her earliest days in Camarillo, Calif., making fond memories on the stage when she was just 5. She landed several small roles before even hitting the double digits. Eventually, she would become a breakout star on a few popular television series, including 8 Simple Rules and Charmed, though she’s likely best known for her time on the popular CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.Winning admirers with her refreshing transparency and down-to-earth attitude, Cuoco is one fiercely independent female who is almost as anti-Hollywood as it gets while having still achieved the ultimate Tinseltown success story. Here’s a look at Kaley Cuoco’s stunning transformation over the years.Kaley Cuoco discovered her love for tennis as a kid. Her parents wanted her to be well-rounded, so they encouraged her to have a hobby in addition to acting. Cuoco told Cosmopolitan, “My Mom made this rule: If you want to do [acting], you have to pick something else, too.” And tennis was an obvious choice for young Cuoco.By the time she was almost a teenager, Cuoco was participating in tennis competitions. She even became a regionally ranked amateur, according to People Magazine! “As cheesy as it sounds, all my eggs were never in just one basket. I had a thousand baskets going on,” she explained to Cosmopolitan. But that all changed when she presumably realized she couldn’t divide her time and focus between acting and tennis and would have to choose between her two loves.Kaley Cuoco’s earliest career successes were appearances in commercials, as noted by Business Insider. Those gigs were quickly followed by her first television role at age 7. She played Connie Reinhardt in the 1992 television movie thriller Quicksand: No Escape. In an interview with Sidewalks, she shared that she remembers being on stage as a child and feeling no pressure from her parents. “My parents said, ‘Do it or don’t,'” she stated.But being a darling on the small screen didn’t make her so well-liked with the kids at school. “I wouldn’t say I was bullied, but I was definitely a bit of an outcast,” she said in a Parade magazine interview. So she started getting homeschooled in the fifth grade by her mother. She claims this made her much happier, and it also put her on an accelerated path, with Cuoco earning her high school diploma at age 16.
Despite the fact that she never went to high school, she did manage to snag an invitation to prom. Actress Ashley Tisdale asked Cuoco to go to prom with her during her first year working on 8 Simple Rules (via Parade).After appearing on episodes of various television shows from 1994 to 2002, Kaley Cuoco finally scored her first major television role. She was cast to play Bridget Hennessy, the eldest daughter of John Ritter and Katey Sagal’s characters on the sitcom 8 Simple Rules. But landing the role wasn’t easy.She told Sidewalks that the casting director called her agent after her initial audition to tell her how rough it had gone and to encourage her to try again as they felt she was still right for the role. Cuoco did, and she then spent the next three seasons on the show until ABC canceled 8 Simple Rules in May 2005 due to low ratings.
Among other lessons, Cuoco told Cosmopolitan that her 8 Simple Rules experience taught her “not to get too caught up in a business where even success involves tons of scrutiny and rejection,” as the magazine explained. The acting job taught her about hard work and made her realize how much she loves sitcoms (via Sidewalks).While starring on 8 Simple Rules, Kaley Cuoco dealt with the loss of her TV dad and mentor, John Ritter. He fell ill while on set, bleeding internally from a tear in his heart vessel. But prior to anyone, including Ritter, knowing he was dying, he stopped by Cuoco’s dressing room on his way off set.Ritter sat on her couch, told her several times that he loved her, and gave her a hug. And that was the last she saw of him. “To this day, if anyone asks me [about] John Ritter, I get this chill because I love him so much,” she told Entertainment Tonight. At that time, she was only 17 years old.
Since then, Cuoco has incorporated some of Ritter’s acting tricks into her own performances. She told Parade that Ritter sometimes fumbled his lines on purpose, screwing them up in front of a live audience because he thought they secretly enjoyed seeing him poke fun at himself. So she admitted there are moments when she does it too — making a mistake just to show that she’s “normal.”A darling of the small screen for much of her young life, Kaley Cuoco realizes that acting is a career in which appearance is important. And she’s definitely willing to put in the work to look good, committing to workouts five days a week. She told Shape that being toned and having muscle is “sexy and beautiful,” and she’s shared her phases of doing hot yoga, spinning, and personal training sessions with the likes of Women’s Health. Even so, she’s admitted to having a little help with that beautiful body, and she doesn’t deny having gotten plastic surgery. As noted by Cosmopolitan, she got breast implants at the age of 18.”Years ago, I had my nose done,” she told Women’s Health in 2016. “And my boobs — best thing I ever did.” She also filled in a line in her neck that had been bothering her since before she was a teenager.
For Cuoco, plastic surgery isn’t shameful. Rather, it’s self-assuring. “As much as you want to love your inner self … I’m sorry, you also want to look good,” she said. “I don’t think you should do it for a man or anyone else, but if it makes you feel confident, that’s amazing.”At age 25, Kaley Cuoco accepted the surprise marriage proposal of her then-boyfriend, addiction specialist Josh “Lazie” Resnik, during a quiet date night at home. Resnik, once a bassist for heavy metal band Danzig (via Loudwire), had previously been wed, but it was Cuoco’s first known engagement. Her representative gave the exclusive on the engagement to People, but didn’t offer any particulars. “The couple are very happy and excited to begin planning their wedding,” the rep noted. The couple also kept most details about their relationship under wraps and never publicly shared a wedding date.
Mere months after the announcement, while appearing at the March 2012 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 21st Annual Hall of Fame ceremony to honor Chuck Lorre, co-creator of The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco was asked about her wedding planning inspirations. She told Entertainment Tonight simply, “I’m not engaged anymore.”A friend introduced Kaley Cuoco to tennis player Ryan Sweeting in 2013, and, after only dating for three months, the couple started planning to spend a lifetime together.
The two were married on New Year’s Eve 2013 at a secret wedding that Cuoco later told Cosmopolitan was “the eighth wonder of the world, the greatest wedding of all time.” She wore a pink ballgown designed by Vera Wang and both she and Sweeting each had 11 people in their parties. Cuoco also officially changed her name to Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. But in less than two years, the Sweetings decided to divorce. Cuoco told Cosmopolitan the reason for the split was that Sweeting “completely changed” and was no longer the person with whom she had fallen in love. “The person I ended up with was not the person I originally met. And that wasn’t my fault — that was his,” she said. She later covered up the tattoo of their wedding date that she’d gotten on her back, as she showed on Instagram. For 12 seasons from 2007 to 2019, Kaley Cuoco played what she told Parade was her “dream role” on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. She first auditioned for the role of Katie (via Newsweek), who was nixed after the show’s original test episode. Penny, the blonde bombshell neighbor of two socially awkward scientists, was added when the pilot was reshot. “I loved being the neighbor to these goofy guys,” she told Entertainment Weekly. She noted, “[Penny is] the greatest character I’ll ever play in my whole life, and I’ll never be the same.”By Season 8, Cuoco was earning $1 million per episode, making her the second highest-paid actress on television behind Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara (via Forbes). The show’s success also changed her career trajectory.
Cuoco can also credit the show with solidifying her place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her star was unveiled in 2014, and, years later, she still wouldn’t be over it. In 2018, she told fans on her Instagram page, “I still don’t believe it was real. I will always be greatly humbled by this moment in my career.”Horseback riding became a major part of Kaley Cuoco’s life around age 15, as she told Sidelines. But in 2010, Cuoco’s equestrian enthusiasm was tested when an incident with a horse almost cost her a leg in what she told Ellen DeGeneres was a “freak accident.” Her horse spooked and bucked her at a lesson. Cuoco was okay until the horse, still spooked, tried jumping over her and landed on her left leg. “I thought he landed on leaves, and I was hoping it was leaves I was hearing crackling, but that was my bones!” she said. Picking up her leg, she found it backward and dangling. The actress, who had never before broken any bone, was given amputation as an option in the emergency room. “I’m going to have to call into work and tell them I have one foot!” she joked when recalling the moment.
In the end, she missed two Big Bang Theory episodes and spent the remainder of the season hiding her cast. But the accident proved that when Cuoco is knocked off her horse, she gets right back on it. She told DeGeneres after the incident that, if she could ride with a cast, she “would be riding right now.”Kaley Cuoco married Karl Cook in 2018
Karl Cook, son of Intuit co-founder Scott Cook, is well-known in equestrian circles, so Cuoco was likely aware of him before they met. But Cook told Sidelines that he knew next to nothing about her — certainly not that she was a TV star — until they bumped into each other at a horse show in 2016. Cook asked Cuoco out to dinner and their resulting romance blossomed.After getting engaged on Cuoco’s 32nd birthday in November 2017, the lovebirds were married seven months later on June 30, 2018, having had a big wedding at Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., as reported by People. Months later, they honeymooned on a trip Cook planned in the Swiss Alps (via People), but the pair didn’t officially move in together until two years after the wedding. In March 2020, Cuoco told Access Hollywood that they were finally moving into their Los Angeles home together.When Kaley Cuoco started her career, she appeared in commercials for products like Barbie and Oscar Mayer, as noted by Business Insider, but Priceline was her first major commercial gig since her youth. “It’s kind of an amazing one to come back to,” she shared in an interview on the set of her inaugural shoot for the discount online travel agency.”I wouldn’t attach myself to something that I wasn’t 100 percent behind,” she noted, adding that she always thought the commercials were “visually cool” and that they were “genius” with actor William Shatner in them. She noted that the ads “felt like something that I would be able to play with really well.”
Cuoco also relished in the “total dream” that it was to work with icon William Shatner, who she claimed was as “cool, hilarious, and charming as you would hope that he would be.”Kaley Cuoco began her career in voice acting with the role of Brandy Harrington on the animated show Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, and she went on to voice other characters, including Kirstee from Bratz, Weather Vane/Paula Hayes from Loonatics Unleashed, and Eleanor from Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. In 2018, it was announced that she would be voicing Harley Quinn in the eponymous DC Universe animated series, which she would also executive produce.The updated version of Harley follows the adventure of the supervillainess after her break-up with the Joker. Cuoco loved that it’s an edgier version with a lot of screaming, cursing, and fighting. “She is female empowerment to a T,” she told E! News.
Voice acting suits Cuoco because “it’s eight hours that I don’t have to spend in hair and makeup,” she joked with Entertainment Tonight. In 2019, Kaley Cuoco took her activism to work, hosting a web series from Shell on YouTube called The Great Travel Hack. The five-episode show followed two teams competing on a road trip from Los Angeles to New York City. The winning team wouldn’t necessarily be the one who finishes the journey the fastest, but rather that team that arrives using the least carbon emissions. “It’s a great show with a great message,” Cuoco told Atlanta’s CBS46.As host, she led the adventurers on their trip across America and claimed she learned a little from the contestants who rode horses, boats, bikes, and skateboards to avoid carbon emissions.
Signing on to the project because she wanted to approach the serious environmental topic in a “happy, silly, fun way,” Cuoco hoped The Travel Hack would open viewers’ minds to cleaner ways to get from place to place.Even before The Big Bang Theory wrapped its last episodes, Kaley Cuoco was already planning the next phase of her career. She launched a production company named after her rescue pit bull, Yes, Norman Productions, in October of 2017 and started lining up projects.Working on The Big Bang Theory throughout her 20s, Cuoco wanted to become a “full-on girl boss.” She told Cosmopolitan, “I want to show girls out there that you can be cool, wear yoga clothes, and run your own f***ing company.” And she wants that company to be big.
She started by producing The Flight Attendant, a limited series for HBO Max based on a novel by Chris Bohjalian, in which she also stars. She told a CBS affiliate that this was the first time that she’d developed something from the ground up, joking, “So it’s gonna be all my fault if it fails miserably.” We bet Kaley Cuoco will continue doing great things!