Jenny McCarthy is an American model, actress and author. She first appeared in Playboy magazine in October 1993 and was named Playmate of the Year in its June 1994 issue.
She subsequently parlayed her Playboy fame into a successful television and film acting career and became a best-selling author and television presenter.
McCarthy was born in Chicago, Illinois, to a middle-class Irish American Catholic family that lived in the West Elsdon neighbourhood. She is the second of four daughters; her sisters are named Joanne, Amy and Lynette.
Her cousin is Melissa McCarthy of Gilmore Girls fame. McCarthy's mother, Linda, was a housewife and courtroom custodian, and her father, Dan McCarthy, was a steel mill foreman.
She attended St. Turibius Grade School on Chicago's South Side. As a teenager, McCarthy attended Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School (whose school sweater she donned in the pages of Playboy) and was cheerleader at both Brother Rice High School and St. Laurence High Schools, although she has referred to herself as an outcast at her school.
After McCarthy graduated from high school, she attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale to study nursing. She needed money to pay for college, so she decided to submit her picture to Playboy magazine to make money. She was accepted and became a model.
After getting accepted by Playboy in 1993, the magazine wanted her to pose for the October issue. McCarthy was paid $30,000 for the photo shoot. McCarthy became the Playmate of the Month and later the Playmate of the Year.
In 1994, thanks to this newfound attention and popularity, McCarthy moved to Los Angeles and, for a time, hosted Hot Rocks, a Playboy TV show featuring uncensored music videos.
In 1995, MTV chose McCarthy to be the host of a new dating show called Singled Out, for which she left Hot Rocks. Her job as a host was a success, and Playboy wanted her to do more modeling.
In 1996, McCarthy landed a small part in the comedy The Stupids and in 1997 she launched two shows: the first was an MTV sketch comedy show called The Jenny McCarthy Show, which was popular enough that NBC signed her to do a sitcom later that year called Jenny.
The latter show is generally considered a disappointment and was quickly canceled.
Also in 1997, she appeared on one of two covers for the September issue of Playboy, the other cover had Pamela Anderson on the cover. McCarthy also released an autobiography: Jen-X.
In 1998, McCarthy starred in BASEketball. In 1999, she starred in Diamonds, a movie which was directed by her husband John Mallory Asher. The next year, she appeared in the horror movie Scream 3.
Since 2001, McCarthy has guest-starred in such shows as Stacked, Charmed, The Drew Carey Show, Fastlane and Just Shoot Me!.
In 2003, McCarthy appeared in Scary Movie 3 along with model and actress Pamela Anderson. In 2005, McCarthy produced, wrote and starred in Dirty Love along with Carmen Electra.
The same year, McCarthy hosted a new show on E! called Party at the Palms. The reality show, which is filmed at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, features hotel guests, party goers and celebrities.
In March 2006, she was given Razzie Awards for Worst Actress, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Picture for her work on Dirty Love, which also netted her then-husband, John Asher, a Razzie for Worst Director.
McCarthy has continued her work with Playboy over the years, both as a model and in other capacities. She graced the cover of the magazine's January 2005 issue wearing a leopard skin bunny suit and was featured in a pictorial shot at Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion in the same issue.
She was the second woman (Carmen Electra was the first) and first Playmate to become a celebrity photographer for the Playboy Cyber Club, getting behind the camera to photograph model Jennifer Madden, who is not a Playmate.
Jenny's younger sister, Amy, has also posed for Playboy. She was a Cyber Girl of the Week and the Cyber Girl of the Month for January 2005.
She was the voice of Six in the third season of Canadian CGI Sci-Fi cartoon Tripping the Rift.
With television credits including recurring guest roles on shows such as Two and a Half Men, Just Shoot Me and The Drew Carey Show, McCarthy continues to be a sought-after comedic actress.
In December 2009, she reprised her starring role in Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe. She also joined hosts Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest, reporting live from Times Square on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2012.
McCarthy brought her over-the-top comedic sensibilities to VH1 with her new talk show, The Jenny McCarthy Show, in 2012. In the same year she took over hosting duties of the reality competition series Love in the Wild.
In addition, McCarthy is a highly regarded New York Times best-selling author. Her books include bestsellers such as Belly Laughs, Baby Laughs, Life Laughs, Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism and Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds.
Healing and Preventing Autism, co-written with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, was published in April 2009. Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance hit stores in September 2010, also landing on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Her book Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic, was released in 2012.
McCarthy's main personal interest is to raise awareness about autism. When she first made public her own experience with her son's diagnosis and subsequent recovery from autism, her unique ability to articulate the unspoken words of thousands of mothers and fathers across the world was recognized immediately.
She is a board member of Generation Rescue, an organization dedicated to recovery for children with autism spectrum disorders by providing guidance and support for medical treatment to directly improve the child's quality of life for all families in need.
McCarthy currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her son, Evan.