Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009

A whisper-thin, raven-haired beauty of TV and film, Courteney Cox first registered with audiences when she was plucked from the crowd by Bruce Springsteen in the Brian De Palma-directed video for The Boss’ hit 1984 single “Dancing in the Dark”. Work for the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency and appearances in Noxzema and Maybelline commercials (among others) and a bit part on the CBS soap “As the World Turns” preceded the video, after which she snagged a regular role in the short-lived primetime series “Misfits of Science” (NBC, 1985-86). Cox then joined the cast of the hit NBC sitcom “Family Ties” for the final two seasons (1987-89) as the brainy girlfriend of Alex P Keaton (Michael J Fox). She made the leap to the big screen, appearing in the little-seen caper film “Down Twisted” and the children’s sci-fi epic “Masters of the Universe” (both 1987), and “Cocoon: The Return” (1988), none of which registered much with critics or audiences.

For the rest of the 80s and into the early 90s, Cox alternated between TV and feature films, often trading on her girl-next-door qualities. While she landed the female lead opposite Jim Carrey in the smash hit “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994), she was overshadowed by the flashy antics of her co-star. Cox finally achieved small screen stardom as the neurotic aspiring chef Monica Geller, serving as the anchor of the ensemble, in the hit sitcom “Friends” (NBC, 1994-2004)–initially viewed as the star of the show, she easily settled into the emerging ensemble and, after a few seasons of playing Monica relatively straight, she showed her comedic chops as the character’s quirks–such as her hyper-cleanliness–emerged. She displayed her dramatic prowess as a blind rape victim in the made-for-cable movie “Sketch Artist II: Hands that See” (Showtime, 1995) before becoming the first of the “Friends” to score a big screen hit with Wes Craven’s “Scream” (1996). Cast against type as savvy, ambitious TV newscaster Gale Weathers, Cox delivered a strong performance and she reprised the part in the inevitable sequels “Scream 2” (1997) and “Scream 3” (2000). Unfortunately, “Commandments” (both 1997), in which she portrayed the unhappy wife of Anthony LaPaglia, embarking on an affair with her brother-in-law (Aidan Quinn), failed to mine the versatility she displayed in the Craven movies. After a string of roles in unimpressive films–“3000 Miles to Graceland,” “The Shrink Is In” and “Get Well Soon” (all 2001), Cox focused primarily on her series and her marriage to her “Scream” co-star David Arquette, whom she married in 1999 (the actress also added the Arquette name to her professional credits). As the final season of “Friends” wound down in 2004, Cox, had her share of options, motherhood was looming, she’d signed to appear in a slate of feature films, and she ahd her husband had already served as executive producers and design consultants on the home improvement reality series “Mix It Up” (2003-2004) on the cable network WE: Women’s Entertainment, a series that focused on helping couples blend their disparate design senisbilities when they move in together