Schoelen's debut was in the 1981 TV film Best of Times, which also starred Crispin Glover and Nicolas Cage. Schoelen starred in such movies as D.C. Cab (1983), Wes Craven's Chiller (1985 TV film), Babes in Toyland (1986), The Stepfather (1987), Cutting Class (1989), The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Rich Girl (film) (1991), Popcorn (1991), When a Stranger Calls Back (1993) and There Goes My Baby (1994). Her last major role was in a rarely seen 1996 independent film called Not Again!
Her role as the heroine in no less than six low-budget horror films earned her a minor cult following and reputation as a scream queen. She guest starred on such series as Murder, She Wrote, Little House on the Prairie, Diagnosis: Murder and Hell Town.
She took time off from the spotlight to raise her two children with her husband, composer Anthony Marinelli. The two divorced in 2002. In 2003, Jill began a relationship with jazz bassist Dave Carpenter, who has played with Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Boz Scaggs, and many others. Jill and Dave began working on a jazz album, with Jill providing the vocals and Dave playing bass as well as producing.
As of 2011, she was working on a new CD recording songs she believed would be part of the American Songbook, and produced a play titled The Standard Bearer and has co-produced Baby, it's You for Broadway with director Floyd Mutrux, both as of 2011.
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