Legend has it that, the night before her audition for Flashdance, Jennifer Beals was so broke that she had to sleep in New York’s Central Park. Actually, Beals had grown up middle-class in Chicago and was a freshman at Yale when she tried out for the role of Alex Owens. The then-unknown actress landed the lead role and found the proverbial overnight stardom when Flashdance became a smash. Her Cinderella luster dimmed when she acknowledged that a dance double named Marine Jahan had performed Alex’s celebrated moves, and despite lead roles in such films as The Bride and In the Soup (directed by her then-husband, Alexandre Rockwell), Beals soon was relegated to character-actress status.
She ultimately found the richest role of her career on cable TV, as Bette Porter, leader of a clique of chic Los Angeles lesbians, on Showtime’s The L Word (2004-09). Her last high profile gig was the starring role on the 2011 police-drama series The Chicago Code (pictured). At 49, Beals remains beautiful and glamorous, and the enduring popularity of Flashdance suggests she’ll always have a fan base.
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