Birthplace: Mission Viejo, California, U.S.
Kristen Noel "Kristy" Swanson (born December 19, 1969) is an American actress, best known for her portrayal of Buffy Summers in the 1992 cult film Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Swanson began her career appearing in several teen films, including Pretty in Pink (1986) and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). Her first starring role was in Wes Craven's horror film Deadly Friend (1986), followed by her portrayal of Catherine "Cathy" Dollanganger in the controversial film adaptation of V.C. Andrews's Flowers in the Attic (1987).
Kristy was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, the daughter of physical education teachers Robert and Rosemary Swanson. Swanson graduated from El Toro High School. Swanson has one older brother, Rob. Kristy's paternal grandfather was Swedish, and her maternal grandfather was of German ancestry. She has an uncle who taught English and Journalism in Anaheim, California.
At the age of nine, Kristy expressed interest in acting to her parents, and began pursuing roles in television commercials. She landed her first job appearing in a doll house commercial, which was followed with several more commercial appearances.
Swanson began her acting career at The Actors Workshop with R.J. Adams and promptly moved into TV advertising roles and several one-off appearances in TV series such as Cagney and Lacey and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1986, she debuted on the big screen in two John Hughes films: Pretty In Pink, in a non-speaking role, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off as a character who announces a convoluted excuse for Ferris' absence in class. Her first starring role was later in 1986, in Wes Craven's Deadly Friend as Samantha - "the girl next door". The next year she played Cathy in the adaptation of V. C. Andrews' best-seller Flowers in the Attic.
Swanson revealed in a 2015 television interview how she was cast in Pretty In Pink: " John Hughes said, 'We're re-shooting the end of Pretty in Pink. I was wondering if you would come be in this scene with our main character, Ducky, because the way we tested it in the movie theater, it didn't work. We need him to end up with somebody else at the end of the movie. So would you play the part?'"
By 1990, Swanson had made many television appearances, including multiple appearances in Knots Landing (1987-1988), Nightingales (1989), her first starring role in a TV series, although it only lasted a season, and a short-lived Burt Reynolds television series called B.L. Stryker (1989).
Throughout the 1990s, she starred mostly in films. She played the title role in the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although not a hit at the box office originally, it had a profitable rental life. She appeared in both starring and supporting roles in movies such as Hot Shots!, The Program, The Chase, or her most critically acclaimed role, playing Kristen Connor, a student discovering her sexuality, in John Singleton's Higher Learning. She also appeared in the film adaptation of the comic-book The Phantom and the dark comedy 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag with Joe Pesci. Most of these films failed at the box office, and she reverted to TV work in the late 1990s.
In the 1998-99 season of Early Edition, Swanson played Erica Paget, a love interest of the main character, Gary Hobson. In 1999, Swanson played Vanessa, the girlfriend of Adam Sandler in the movie Big Daddy. In 2000, she returned to a television series, as the star of Grapevine, a revamp of a 1992 TV series that was canceled after five episodes.
Swanson posed nude for Playboy magazine in November 2002 in a cover-featured pictorial. She appeared in and won the 2006 Fox television program Skating with Celebrities, partnered with Lloyd Eisler.
On May 8, 2007, Swanson appeared in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Bombshell", playing a fictionalized variation on Anna Nicole Smith.
In 2007, she became a spokesperson of the Medifast diet. In the following year, she guest-starred in three episodes of the lesbian web series 3Way.
Swanson made a cameo appearance in the "Don't You Forget About Me" episode of One Tree Hill, which aired on February 1, 2010. The episode was a homage to John Hughes; Swanson appeared in two films produced by him in the 1980s. In 2018, she was cast in the lead role in Hallmark Channel original movie Winter's Dream along with other TV projects.
Swanson started dating actor Alan Thicke in 1986, when she was 17 years old, and became engaged to him two years later when she was 19 and he was 42. However, the pair never married.
Swanson began an adulterous affair with her Skating with Celebrities partner Lloyd Eisler during the show's run, while Eisler was still married to his then-pregnant wife, Marcia O'Brien. Swanson gave birth to a son named Magnus Hart Swanson Eisler on February 16, 2007, just one month after Lloyd's divorce from Marcia O'Brien was finalized. Swanson married Eisler on February 7, 2009 in San Luis Obispo, California. They currently live in Santa Clarita, California.
|1986||Pretty in Pink||Duckette|
|1986||Ferris Bueller's Day Off||Simone Adamley|
|1986||Deadly Friend||Samantha Pringle|
|1987||Flowers in the Attic||Catherine "Cathy" Dollanganger|
|1990||Dream Trap||Sue Halloran|
|1990||Diving In||Terry Hopkins|
|1991||Mannequin Two: On the Move||Jessie|
|1991||Highway to Hell||Rachel Clark|
|1992||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Buffy Summers|
|1993||The Program||Camille Shafer|
|1994||Chase, TheThe Chase||Natalie Voss|
|1994||Getting In||Kirby Watts|
|1995||Higher Learning||Kristen Connor|
|1995||Chili Con Carne Club, TheThe Chili Con Carne Club||Julie||Short film|
|1996||Phantom, TheThe Phantom||Diana Palmer|
|1997||8 Heads in a Duffel Bag||Laurie Bennett|
|1997||Lover Girl||Darlene Ferrari / "Sherry"|
|1998||Ground Control||Julie Albrecht|
|2000||Meeting Daddy||Laurel Lee|
|2000||Dude, Where's My Car?||Christie Boner|
|2001||Soul Assassin||Tessa Jansen|
|2003||Silence||Dr. Julia Craig|
|2005||Bound by Lies||Laura Cross||Video|
|2005||Six Months Later||Linda||Short film|
|2006||Living Death||Elizabeth Harris||Video|
|2009||Closer, TheThe Closer||Kaitlyn||Short film|
|2010||What If...||Wendy Walker|
|2012||Little Women, Big Cars||Rocky|
|2013||Bouquet, TheThe Bouquet||Terri Benton|
|2013||Storm Rider||Jody Peterson||Video|
|2014||Beethoven's Treasure Tail||Anne Parker||Video|
|2014||A Belle For Christmas||Daniella Downy||Video|
|2016||Where Heaven And Hell Collide||Debbie Peters||Completed|
|1984||It's Your Move||Laura||Episode: "Love Letters"|
|1985||Call to Glory||Sally||Episodes: "JFK: Parts 1 & 2"|
|1985||Cagney & Lacey||Stephanie Brandon||Episode: "On the Street"|
|1985||Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz||Young Heidi Abromowitz|
|1986||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Female Student #2||Episode: "The Gloating Place"|
|1986||Miracle of the Heart: A Boys Town Story||Stephanie Gamble||Television film|
|1986||Mr. Boogedy||Jennifer Davis||Television film (ABC)|
|1986||Hogan Family, TheThe Hogan Family||Linda Perkins||Episode: "The Big Fix-Up"|
|1987||Jaurez||Cathy Dodge||Tellevision film|
|1987||Growing Pains||Rhonda||Episode: "Thank God It's Friday"|
|1987||Not Quite Human||Eron Jeffries||Television film (ABC)|
|1987-1988||Knots Landing||Jody Campbell||Recurring role (8 episodes)|
|1988||Loner, TheThe Loner||Sherry Spicer||Television film|
|1988||Nightingales||Rebecca "Becky" Granger||Television film (NBC)|
|1989||Nightingales||Rebecca "Becky" Granger||Main role (13 episodes)|
|1989||B.L. Stryker||Lynn Ellingsworth||Episodes: "The Dancer's Touch", "Blues for Buder"|
|1996||Marshal Law||Lilly Nelson||Television film (Showtime)|
|1997||Bad to the Bone||Francesca Wells||Television film (ABC)|
|1998-1999||Early Edition||Erica Paget||Main role (20 episodes)|
|1999||Supreme Sanction||Jenna||Television film (HBO)|
|2000||Grapevine||Susan Crawford||Regular role (5 episodes)|
|2001||Untitled Charles Randolph Project||TV pilot|
|2001||Zebra Lounge||Louise Bauer||Television film|
|2003||Just Shoot Me!||Allison Cavanaugh||Episode: "There's Something About Allison"|
|2003||Red Water||Dr. Kelli Raymond||Television film (TBS)|
|2004||CSI: Miami||Roxanne Price||Episode: "Complications"|
|2005||Forbidden Secrets||Alexandra Kent Lambeth||Television film|
|2006||Black Hole, TheThe Black Hole||Shannon Muir||Television film (Syfy)|
|2007||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Lorelai Mailer||Episode: "Bombshell"|
|2008||3Way||Leslie Lapdalulu||Episodes: "Fatal Distraction: Parts 1 & 2", "The Dinah Monologues"|
|2009||Hell's Kitchen||Herself||Season 6 Episode 4: "13 Chefs Compete"|
|2010||One Tree Hill||Woman in Car||Episode: "Don't You Forget About Me"|
|2011||Swamp Shark||Rachel Bouchard||Television film (Syfy)|
|2011||Christmas Wish, AA Christmas Wish||Martha Evans||Television film (Hallmark)|
|2011-2014||Psych||Marlowe Viccellio||Recurring role (6 episodes)|
|2012||Operation Cupcake||Janet Carson||Television film|
|2014||A Lesson in Romance||Megan Mills||Television film (PixL)|
|2014||Merry Ex-Mas||Noelle||Television film (ION)|
|2015||Driven Underground||Sarah Palmer||Television film (Lifetime)|
|2015||Angels in the Snow||Judith Montgomery||Television film (UP)|
|2018||Bad Stepmother||Louise||Television film (Lifetime)|
|2018||Winter's Dream||Kat||Television film (Hallmark)|
Kristy Swanson supports the following charitable cause: Children.