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|Also Known As:||William J. Cartledge||Died:|
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A moral compass. A motherly shoulder to cry on. The smart girl with glasses. You could generally find TV actress Gabrielle Carteris playing these types during her 20-plus year career, a casting trend largely aided by her breakout role as the nerdy overachiever on the '90s pop culture phenomenon, "Beverly Hills 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000). Nearly 30 years old at the time she was hilariously miscast as a 16-year-old, Carteris left the show after 5 seasons, re-inventing herself as a mouthpiece for teens in trouble, hosting a series of educational specials on teen lifestyle topics, and even taking the helm as a sympathetic talk show host for her own short-lived series. Carteris eventually transformed into a mainstay in melodramatic, women-oriented TV movies but surprised everyone with her appearance on the crazy reality TV series, "The Surreal Life," (WB, 2003-05, VH1 2005-).
Gabrielle Carteris was born in Scottsdale, AZ, on Jan. 2, 1961, and raised in Northern California. She was always interested in the performing arts, pursuing acting and ballet as a girl. Like her most famous character, Andrea Zuckerman of "90210" fame, she was also a very good student. But unlike Zuckerman, Carteris had more run-ins with teen rebellion, including an unstable home life and a streak of excessive partying. She managed to keep her focus on school and acting, however, and was accepted to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she earned a liberal arts degree in 1983. Carteris went on to further dramatic training in London, where she studied with The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the London Academy of Music and Art. Several years later, she returned to New York and landed her first acting jobs on "After School Specials" and eventually on the soap "Another World"(NBC, 1964-1999), where she made recurring appearances throughout 1988.
In 1990, the 29-year-old actress would get her big break when she auditioned for a new Aaron Spelling series about wealthy teens living in the most glamorous zip code in America. Carteris was cast as Andrea Zuckerman, a slightly frumpy and neurotic overachiever who was secretly commuting from the middle class San Fernando Valley to get into the Beverly Hills School system. Zuckerman was a volunteer on a crisis hotline and editor of the school newspaper, where she and the hunky but academic main character Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) formed a close friendship that she always hoped would turn into more. In an unlikely development, the straight-A student became pregnant while still in high school, got married, and then went to Yale with her young family. Zuckerman's exit was written in to the show to accommodate an offer Carteris received to host her own talk show.
While doing "90210," Carteris had begun producing a series of television specials geared towards youth issues, including "Face the Hate" (1993) and her own creation, "Life Stories With Gabrielle Carteris" (syndicated), which included documentary-style footage combined with live audience participation and addressed issues like parental consent for teenage abortion. "Gabrielle" (Syndicated, 1995), was developed as a similar forum to discuss serious life issues, but despite its lofty goal, was cancelled in its first season. Carteris continued to work with teens off-screen, dedicating her time to the D.A.R.E. program, the Noxzema Extraordinary Teen Program, M.A.D.D., and the literacy project "Read to Grow."
The actress who had made a strong impression as a warm and compassionate mom-type easily transitioned into the earnest world of made-for-TV movies, appearing in "Danielle Steele's Mixed Blessings," (Lifetime, 1995), "Trapped: Buried Alive" (USA, 2002), and "A Lover's Revenge" (Lifetime, 2005). She also did time on TV series like "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-07), "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003) and "Crossing Jordan" (NBC, 2001-07). Her classic dramatic training also proved to be a good background for voice-over work, allowing her to stretch her range a bit more by playing animated characters on "Pinky & The Brain"(WB, 1995-98), "Batman Beyond" (WB, 1999-2001), and "The Toy Warrior" (Cartoon Network, 2005).
In 2003, Carteris was a cast member on the first season of "The Surreal Life" alongside Vince Neil, Corey Feldman, and MC Hammer, among others. Not surprisingly she became the mother figure of the house.
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