Jenna Elfman

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Jenna Elfman
Jenna Elfman (cropped).JPG
Elfman posing during a break from filming The Six Wives of Henry Lefay in New Milford, Connecticut, October 15, 2007.
Born Jennifer Mary Butala
(1971-09-30) September 30, 1971 (age 43)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actress/producer
Years active 1990–present
Religion Scientology
Spouse(s) Bodhi Elfman (m. 1995)
Children 2

Jennifer Mary "Jenna" Elfman (born September 30, 1971) is an American television and film actress. She is best known for her roles as Dharma on the 1997–2002 American television sitcom Dharma & Greg and as Anna Riley in the 2000 feature film Keeping the Faith.

Early life[edit]

Elfman was born Jennifer Mary Butala in Los Angeles, California, the youngest of three children, to Sue (Grace) Butala, a homemaker, and Richard Butala, a Hughes Aircraft executive.[1] Her father's younger brother, Elfman's uncle, is Tony Butala, lead singer since 1958 of the American vocal trio The Lettermen. She is of Croatian ancestry on her father's side[2] and was raised Roman Catholic.[3]

Taking ballet classes since the age of five, Elfman became a classically trained ballet dancer and attended high school at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. She then attended college at California State University, Northridge (CSUN)[4]


Elfman began her professional career as a dancer, appearing in the music video for "Halo", a song by Depeche Mode from the 1990 album Violator, a video that was exclusively included on the band's 1990 music video compilation Strange Too. She stars in the video for Anthrax's 1993 song "Black Lodge". She also danced in the video for Chris Isaak's 1995 single "Somebody's Crying" and toured with the rock band ZZ Top on their 1994 World Tour as a "Legs Girl".

After appearing in numerous national television commercials, most notably as the girl in the Honda ad who said "Regular or Decaf?", Elfman landed her first principal cast acting role on the short-lived 1996 American sitcom entitled Townies on ABC. Although the show didn't catch on with viewers, it did impress critics, particularly the performances of Elfman and co-star Lauren Graham. Soon after, 20th Century Fox began talking to Elfman about developing her own sitcom.[5] Elfman thus started her five-year run as Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery in the American comedy series Dharma & Greg on ABC.

Elfman guest starred in two episodes of Two and a Half Men in 2004 and one episode of Brothers and Sisters in 2007. She made a guest appearance in the sixth episode of season four of My Name Is Earl as a cheer team leader.[6]

Elfman starred in the CBS comedy Courting Alex in 2006,[7] then starred in Accidentally on Purpose for CBS three years later during the 2009–10 television season.[8] The show was canceled after a single (2009–2010) season.

She appeared in a supporting role in a feature film, Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, released in 2011. Also in 2011, she returned to do a cameo appearance on the Two and a Half Men Season 9 premiere episode reprising her "Dharma" character together with former co-star Thomas Gibson ("Greg").

Elfman acted in the season finale of Shameless on April 1, 2012.[9]

She appeared in a recurring role in the final season of Damages.[10]

In 2012, Elfman and her husband, Bodhi, started their podcast, Kicking and Screaming by Jenna and Bodhi Elfman.[11]

Elfman played a fictional version of the First Lady of the United States in 1600 Penn, a 2013 comedy series on NBC that ran for one season.[12]

In July 2013, Elfman was cast in the NBC comedy Growing Up Fisher as Joyce Fisher, the wife of a blind man struggling as the patriarch, which was cancelled after one season.[13]

Also in July 2013, it was announced that Jenna has a guest-starring role on the August 28 episode of USA Network's Royal Pains as Lacy, a reformed party girl.[14]

Elfman has announced she will guest star in the fourth season of CBS drama Person of Interest.


Elfman at the The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection Fashion Show 2012

In February 2006, Elfman donated an hour of her time to be auctioned to the highest bidder on eBay as part of the "Lunch with a Leader" fundraiser, the proceeds of which benefit the work of Communities in Schools.[15] She also participated in the auction in 2007[16] and 2008.[17]

Elfman donated her lip print for a limited edition U.S. postage stamp created by Zazzle to celebrate Valentine's Day in both 2007[18] and 2008.[19] Proceeds for the "Kiss Stamps" went to support the programs of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In February 2011, she filmed a PSA for HSUS to inspire people to donate to help animals.[20]

As a criminal rehabilitation activist, Elfman has traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for criminal reform. On April 5, 2007, she was presented with the Goodwill Ambassador Award for her work in human rights and criminal rehabilitation at the Women Ambassadors Foundation 12th Annual Conference.[21] On April 9, 2008, she was a guest[22] at the signing of a new bill by U.S. President George W. Bush that aimed to reduce prisoner recidivism, entitled the Second Chance Act of 2007 (H.R. 1593).[23]

In September 2008, Elfman joined the charity: water month-long "September Campaign", asking for donations in lieu of birthday gifts in order to raise money to build freshwater wells in Ethiopia.[24] She ran a second charity: water birthday campaign in September 2011 to aid in funding a drilling rig for wells in Northern Ethiopia.[25]

On January 22, 2010, Elfman donated her time to participate in the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief telethon in Los Angeles, California.[26]

On March 2, 2011, she participated in the National Education Association (NEA) Read Across America program by reading to school children in Compton, California in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday.[27]

Elfman walked the catwalk in The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection 2012 Fashion Show in New York on February 8, 2012 to raise awareness for heart disease. The annual event is headed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.[28]

On March 6, 2012, Elfman hosted Laugh For Sight's[29] comedy show at The Improv in Los Angeles to benefit the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.[30]

On April 14, 2012, Elfman hosted an environmentally friendly themed charity event at her home in Los Angeles, California for the purpose of the party's attendees to learn more about the Healthy Child Healthy World "Healthy Child Party" program and Best for Babes, a breastfeeding advocacy organization.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Elfman met her husband, actor Bodhi Elfman, at a Sprite commercial audition in February 1991. They married on February 18, 1995, making director Richard Elfman her father-in-law and composer Danny Elfman her uncle-in-law.

On July 23, 2007, Elfman and her husband's first child, a son, Story Elias, was born in Los Angeles.[32] On September 16, 2009, when Elfman announced she was expecting her second child, she suggested that the pregnancy would help with her role in Accidentally on Purpose.[33] On March 2, 2010, their son, Easton Quinn Monroe, was born.[34]

Elfman is a member of the Church of Scientology.

Scientology-related activities[edit]

In 2005, Elfman appeared at the Scientology-backed Citizens Commission on Human Rights' "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death"[35] museum grand opening and she and husband Bodhi are listed on the organization's website as members of the board of advisers from the arts, entertainment and media community.[36]

On May 24, 2006, she was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Hero Award event in participation with the Scientology-affiliated groups Youth for Human Rights International and Artists for Human Rights (AFHR), an organization formed with the purpose of bringing artists together with the common cause of raising awareness of human rights around the world. The event took place in Washington, D.C. and was attended by members of Congress and the general public. Awards were presented to individuals who through their actions have brought about greater human rights.[37]

On March 27, 2008, Elfman and Charlie Sheen co-hosted the Scientology-affiliated New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project Charity Event at Geisha House in Hollywood.[38]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Tanya
1998 Dr. Dolittle Owl Voice
1998 Can't Hardly Wait The Angel Uncredited
1998 Krippendorf's Tribe Prof. Veronica Micelli
1999 EDtv Shari
1999 Venus Venus
2000 Tangerine Bear, TheThe Tangerine Bear Lorelei Voice
2000 CyberWorld Phig Voice
2000 Keeping the Faith Anna Riley Nominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Comedy/Romance
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2001 Town & Country Auburn
2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action Kate
2004 Clifford's Really Big Movie Dorothy Voice
2005 Touched Angela Martin Executive producer
2005 What's Hip, Doc? Supermodel Voice
2008 Struck Pregnant date Short film
2009 Six Wives of Henry Lefay, TheThe Six Wives of Henry Lefay Ophelia
2009 Love Hurts Darlene
2011 Friends with Benefits Annie
2014 Big Stone Gap Miss Iva Lou Wade


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Murder, She Wrote Ballet Dancer in background Uncredited; Episode: "Dance Diabolique"
1994 George Carlin Show, TheThe George Carlin Show Psychedelic girl As Jenna Butala; Episode: "George Does A Bad Thing"
1995 Monroes, TheThe Monroes Lily Episode: "Bottoms, Up"
1995 Roseanne Garland Episode: "The Getaway, Almost"
1996 Townies Shannon Canotis Main Cast; 15 episodes
1996 Murder One Angela Scalese Episode: "Chapter Seventeen"
1996 Almost Perfect Becky Toll Episode: "Being Fired Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry"
1996 NYPD Blue Patty Snow Episode: "The Nutty Confessor"
1997 Single Guy, TheThe Single Guy Jordan Episode: "Just Friends?"
1997–2002 Dharma & Greg Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery Main Cast; 119 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1999)
TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy (1999, 2000)
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication (1999)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1998, 1999, 2000)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1998, 2000)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2000, 2001, 2002)
Nominated—TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy (2001)
2002 Obsessed Ellena Roberts TV movie
2004 Two and a Half Men Frankie 2 episodes
2006 Courting Alex Alex Rose Main Cast; 13 episodes
2007 Brothers & Sisters Lizzie Jones-Baker Episode: "Game Night"
2008 My Name Is Earl Kimmi Himmler Episode: "We've Got Spirit"
2009–2010 Accidentally on Purpose Billie Main Cast; 18 episodes
2011 Two and a Half Men Dharma Montgomery Episode: "Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt"
2012 Shameless Jill Episode: "Fiona Interrupted"
2012 Damages Naomi Walling 7 episodes
2012–2013 1600 Penn Emily Nash Gilchrist Main Cast; 13 episodes
2013 Royal Pains Lacy Episode: "Open Invitation"
2014 Growing Up Fisher Joyce Fisher Main Cast; 13 episodes
2014 So You Think You Can Dance Herself Guest Judge [39]


  1. ^ "Jenna Elfman Biography (1971–)". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ Elfman, Jenna. (November 21, 2003). "Elfman happily shows her 'Looney' side", Interviewed by Angela Dawson, Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on April 23, 2010. Jenna Elfman says of her maiden name (Butala) origin, "It's Croatian. My great-grandparents are from Croatia. My dad visited Croatia and I'd love to go too someday. He met some relatives who have survived some really incredible, traumatic experiences. He was just so blown away by their stamina – their spiritual stamina – to keep going and to survive and create that life no matter what ... It's really commendable."
  3. ^ "Jenna Elfman". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 15, 2010. Elfman was raised in a Roman Catholic home. 
  4. ^ Campus Facts: Notable CSUN Alumni[dead link]
  5. ^ "/ABC's Golden Girl? Perky Jenna Elfman rises out of the Valley Girl masses to play San Francisco free spirit". September 14, 1997. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Exclusive! Jenna Elfman Hooks Up With Earl". E! Online – Watch with Kristin. June 5, 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2008. 
  7. ^ Courting Alex at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ "CBS Confirms Six Newcomers 5/18/09". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ Gelman, Vlada (November 4, 2011). Jenna Elfman Gets Shameless – Plus Watch Showtime's Sexy Emmy Rossum/Kristen Bell Vid, TVLine.
  10. ^ Ausiello, Michael (October 24, 2011). Damages Scoop: Jenna Elfman Joins Cast as Catalyst For Climactic Patty-Ellen Showdown, TVLine.
  11. ^ "Rockin’ Libsyn Podcasts: Kicking and Screaming by Jenna and Bodhi Elfman". February 8, 2013. 
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 7, 2012). "2ND UPDATE: '1600 Penn', 'Animal Practice', 'New Normal', 'Revolution' & 'Save Me' Picked Up To Series At NBC". Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  13. ^ Bibel, Sara (July 9, 2013). Jenna Elfman Cast in NBC Comedy 'Growing Up Fisher', TV by the Numbers via NBC press release. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
  14. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (July 10, 2013). Elfman Books 'Royal Pains' Visit (Exclusive), The Hollywood Reporter
  15. ^ "Grammy Award-Winning Singers Alicia Keys and Patti LaBelle, Actress Jenna Elfman Top the List of Entertainers to Participate in Online Celebrity Auction". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ Accidentally on Purpose (February 6, 2007). "Your Chance to have lunch with Jenna in person!". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Communities in Schools Lunch With a Leader – Jenna Elfman". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Other Celebs Offer Kiss Stamps for Charity – January 28, 2007". January 28, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Seal It With a Kiss This Valentine's Day Using Zazzle Custom Stamps". Reuters. January 14, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Jenna in a new Public Service Announcement for the Humane Society". Edie Films Inc. February 11, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Women Ambassadors at Howard". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  22. ^ Bush signs prisoners' Second Chance act
  23. ^ "President Bush Signs H.R. 1593, the Second Chance Act of 2007". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Jenna Elfman Charity Biography". 
  25. ^ "charity: water – Jenna's Birthday Wish". 
  26. ^ "George Clooney explains 'Hope for Haiti' celebrity phone bank". USA Today Ann Oldenburg. January 22, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Jenna celebrates Dr. Seuss' Birthday and Read Across America Week". Edie Films Inc. March 29, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Red Dress fashion show draws attention to heart disease". February 8, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  29. ^ Laugh For Sight
  30. ^ "Jenna Elfman Interview". Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Celebrity Moms Host Party for Kids' Health". April 16, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  32. ^ Chiu, Alexis (July 30, 2007). "Jenna Elfman Welcomes a Baby Boy". People. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Jenna Elfman Expecting Second Baby!". Us Weekly. July 2007. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Jenna Elfman Welcomes Second Son". People. March 5, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  35. ^ "New L.A. Museum Targets Psychiatry as an Industry of Death". CCHR International. December 17, 2005. Retrieved March 18, 2007. 
  36. ^ "Citizens Commission on Human Rights Board of Advisors". CCHR International. April 10, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009. 
  37. ^ "The Human Rights Hero Awards 2006 - Washington, D.C.". 
  38. ^ "Jenna hosts NY Rescue Workers Detoxification Project Charity Event". March 27, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2008. 
  39. ^ "So You Think You Can Dance - 2014 Casting Guide with Call Dates". Retrieved June 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]