Kristen Bell

On this date in 1980, actress Kristen Anne Bell was born in Huntington Woods, Michigan, the daughter of Lorelei (Frygier), a nurse, and Tom Bell, a television news director. They divorced when she was 2. She took acting lessons as a child and her mother registered her with an agent when she was 12, after which she was cast in print and broadcast ads and attended Shrine Catholic High School. Her parents had become dissatisfied with her public school.

After graduation, Bell studied musical theater at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She made her first credited debut in “Pootie Tang” (2001) and appeared in the Broadway revival of “The Crucible” with Liam Neeson in 2002. She then moved to Los Angeles and found work in television. Her breakout role was as the title character in the series “Veronica Mars,” which aired from 2004-07. (Bell also played the title role in the 2014 film based on the series.)

After the “Mars” series went off the air, Bell won the starring film role in the Judd Apatow comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” She then starred in the 2009 comedies “Serious Moonlight” with Meg Ryan and “Couples Retreat” with Jason Bateman. She co-starred with Christina Aguilera and Cher in the 2010 musical film “Burlesque” before playing the female lead on the Showtime comedy series “House of Lies” from 2012-16.

She had numerous other acting and voice roles in films and TV, including “The Lifeguard” (2013), “Frozen” (2013), “Zootopia” (2016), “The Boss” (2016), “Bad Moms” (2016) and “The Disaster Artist” (2017). Hulu announced in 2018 that Bell would reprise her role in an eight-episode fourth season of “Veronica Mars,” which debuted in July 2019.

After ending a five-year relationship with Kevin Mann in 2007, Bell started dating actor Dax Shepard. They announced their engagement in January 2010 but out of principle chose to delay marriage until California legalized same-sex unions, which happened in 2013. They have two daughters, Lincoln, born in 2013, and Delta, born in 2014.

Neither she nor Shepard are religious. That has caused “a lot of turbulence” with her born-again Christian mother, Bell told interviewer Marc Maron in 2018. Despite not seeing eye to eye on religion, she doesn’t judge her mother for her beliefs. “It’s an idea of practiced behavior that is good for her. I am not in need of that same thing. I feel like I have a good barometer of being more of a humanist, a good barometer of good and bad and how my conduct should be toward other people.”

Bell gave up eating meat when she was 11 and supports nonprofits dedicated to protecting animals. She works with the charity Invisible Children Inc. to create awareness of the plight of Ugandans caught in the midst of a civil war between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. In 2019 she and Shepard founded the company Hello Bello to market plant-based baby care products that are environmentally friendly and affordable. 

Public domain photo by Tom Bell of his daughter Kristen during a visit to the “Veronica Mars” set in 2007.

Freedom From Religion Foundation