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Melissa Joan Hart Biography 1976-

After spending the 1990s as a TV teen star, set her sights on feature films. Born and raised on Long Island, Hart began acting in TV commercials as a child. She further honed her skills in New York theater in the late ’80s as the youngest member of the Circle Repertory Lab Company. Hart then broke through as a cable TV favorite (and a CableACE Award nominee) in the role of the precocious titular preteen on the Nickelodeon series Clarissa Explains It All (1991-1994). After the series ended, Hart moved to network TV stardom in 1996 as the supernaturally gifted title teen on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Maintaining her pert primetime persona while revealing her range, Hart also starred in several TV movies, including Family Reunion: A Relative Nightmare (1995), Twisted Desire (1996), The Right Connections (1997), and the college date rape drama Silencing Mary (1998). Though Hart continued to produce and star in Sabrina, she also attempted to parlay her TV fame into movie stardom with the romantic comedy Drive Me Crazy (1999). The film, however, failed to perform as well as the Britney Spears tune that gave it its title. Hart raised eyebrows that same year when she tried to shed her squeaky-clean adolescent image with a racy photo spread and interview in men’s magazine Maxim. Neither gambit affected Sabrina, although Hart and the series moved from the family-oriented ABC lineup to the youth-savvy WB in 2000.

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