It seems appropriate that Julie Bowen, an actress who helps tutor high school students in her spare time and says she usually prefers staying home with a good novel to going out to a party, would rise to fame playing Carol Vessey, the pretty and quick-witted high school teacher on the popular comedy-drama series Ed. Born Julie Bowen Luetkemeyer in Baltimore, MD, on March 3, 1970, Bowen first acquired a taste for acting as a child, when she began putting on plays with her sisters at home. Bowen developed a more serious interest in the theater while studying at Brown University, where she received a degree in Italian Renaissance studies; she appeared in a number of student theater productions, including Guys and Dolls and Lemon Sky, and in her senior year she was cast in her first film, an independent feature called Five Spot Jewel. After graduating, she began honing her craft by studying at the Actor’s Institute, Shakespeare and Company, and Will Geer’s Theatricum, and began pursuing a career in television, landing roles in television commercials and eventually winning a supporting role on the daytime drama Loving. (She also appeared in a student film directed by Edward Burns, several years before he made his breakthrough independent feature The Brothers McMullen). In 1994, Bowen was cast in the leading role in Joe Dante’s made-for-cable feature Runaway Daughters, and appeared on the TV series Class of ’96. In 1995, Bowen became a regular on a short-lived adventure series, Extreme, and the following year she earned a showy role in the hit comedy feature Happy Gilmore, playing Virginia, Happy’s girlfriend. In 1998, Bowen began a nine-episode run as Roxanne (the love interest for Dr. Carter, played by Noah Wyle) on the hit series E.R., and was cast in another short-lived action series, Three; her performance as the crime-fighting ex-con Amanda Webb soon earned her a cult following. In 2000, Bowen debuted on Ed, which received enthusiastic reviews and solid ratings, finally earning her an unqualified success on television; she also continued to pursue film roles, most notably the Tim Allen-vehicle Joe Somebody.