Meg Ryan Biography

Meg Ryan is an American actress and director, best known for playing romantic characters on screen. Check out this biography to know about her childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: November 19, 1961

Nationality: American

Famous: Actresses Directors

Age: 58 Years, 58 Year Old Females

Sun Sign: Scorpio

Also Known As: Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra

Born in: Fairfield

Famous as: Actress

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Females

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Spouse/Ex-: Anthony Edwards, Dennis Quaid

father: Harry Hyra

mother: Susan Jordan Duggan

siblings: Andrew Hyra, Annie Hyra, Dana Hyra

children: Daisy True Ryan, Jack Quaid

U.S. State: Connecticut

More Facts

education: University of Connecticut, New York University, 1979-06 - Bethel High School, Saint Pius X Elementary School

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Meg Ryan, who was born Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra, is an American actress and director. She is best known for playing romantic characters on screen that possess her trademark bubbly personality, blonde hair and blue eyes. While still in college, Margaret decided to earn some extra money through acting and adopted her maternal grandmother’s maiden name ‘Ryan’ as her screen name. She began with television commercials and gradually made her way into people’s heart with her performances in several hit romantic-comedy films like ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘You've Got Mail’ in the 1990s. Because of the sparkling nature and cheerful persona projected in these movies, she came to be regarded as America’s sweetheart. Being a versatile actor, she made conscious attempts from time to time to break away from the romantic-comedy genre and play complicated characters like that of an an alcoholic high-school guidance counsellor in the film ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’. However, before long, she returned to being “cute” and starred in ‘I.Q.’ and ‘French Kiss’. Apart from acting she has also experimented in direction. Her directorial debut film ‘Ithaca’ (2015) was based on the 1943 novel ‘The Human Comedy’ and starred, among others, her son Jack Quaid.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Meg Ryan was born on November 19, 1961, in Fairfield, Connecticut, to Susan Jordan, a former actress and Harry Hyra, a mathematics teacher. She has two sisters and a brother. Her parents divorced when she was 15.
  • She traces her family lineage to Polish, Irish, and German descent. ‘Ryan’ is her maternal grandmother's maiden name which she adopted while registering herself with the Screen Actors Guild.
  • She grew up as a Roman Catholic and went to St. Pius X Elementary School, Fairfield. Later, she studied at the Bethel High School and graduated in 1979.
  • In college, she studied journalism first at the University of Connecticut and later, at the New York University. During this period, she acted in television commercials to make extra money. Her success as an actress led her to quit college a semester before her graduation.
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  • Meg Ryan debuted in George Cukor's film ‘Rich and Famous’ (1981). Thereafter she played the character of Betsy Stewart in the daytime drama ‘As the World Turns’, from 1982–1984.
  • Around this time, she appeared in a Burger King commercial and as a result several smaller film roles and television film followed, including a sitcom ‘Charles in Charge’, a horror thriller film ‘Amityville 3-D’ (1983), and an action-crime comedy film ‘Armed and Dangerous’ (1986).
  • In 1986, she essayed the role of a Naval Flight Officer’s wife, Carole Bradshaw in ‘Top Gun’. The following year she featured in a science-fiction comedy film ‘Innerspace’ and a drama film ‘Promised Land’, earning her first Independent Spirit Award nomination.
  • In 1988, she appeared in the remake of the famous 1950 noir film ‘D.O.A.’ and crime drama ‘The Presidio’. The year saw her appearing in her first lead role in the romantic comedy film ‘When Harry Met Sally’. The film got her a Golden Globe award nomination for her performance as Sally Albright.
  • She subsequently appeared in films like ‘The Doors’ (1991) and ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ (1992). In 1993, she appeared for the second time with Tom Hanks in the immensely popular romantic comedy film ‘Sleepless in Seattle’.
  • Next, she took up diverse roles in order to avoid being stereotyped as a romantic-comedy actor. In the social drama film, ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ (1994), she played an alcoholic high-school guidance counsellor and won her first Screen Actors Guild Award. The same year, she also appeared in Fred Schepisi's romantic comedy ‘I.Q.’ (1994).
  • In 1995, she featured in Lawrence Kasdan's romantic comedy ‘French Kiss’ and two years later in 1997, she lend her voice to the lead role in the hit animated film ‘Anastasia’.
  • In 1998, she featured in ‘City of Angels’ and international blockbuster ‘You've Got Mail’. In ‘You've Got Mail’ she once again paired her with Tom Hanks and her performance in the film earned Ryan her third Golden Globe nomination. She also appeared with Sean Penn in ‘Hurly-burly’ (1998).
  • In 2000, she starred in Diana Keaton’s family comedy-drama film ‘Hanging Up’. She also appeared in the action thriller film ‘Proof of Life’ with Russell Crowe the same year.
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  • In 2001, she starred in James Mangold’s romantic comedy film ‘Kate & Leopold’ opposite Hugh Jackman. The film became her highest-grossing film ever.
  • In 2003, she acted in a different genre: Jane Campion's erotic thriller film ‘In the Cut’ together with Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film received little critical acclaim. She also appeared in a sports drama film ‘Against the Ropes’ in 2004.
  • In 2007, she starred in Jon Kasdan's independent film ‘In the Land of Women’ as Sarah Hardwicke, a wife and mother facing breast cancer. The film received mixed reviews from the critics but earned $17.5 million globally. Ryan received appreciation for her performance.
  • In 2008, she starred in a satirical comedy film ‘The Deal’ directed by Steven Schachter. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and earned mixed reviews. She also appeared in George Gallo's action comedy film ‘My Mom's New Boyfriend’ which received negative reviews.
  • Her last film of 2008 was ‘The Women’, a remake of the 1939 production. She portrayed a wealthy woman whose husband is cheating on her with a shop girl. Although the film received disappointing reviews, it became a worldwide financial success.
  • In 2009, she featured together with Kristen Bell and Justin Long in the independent comedy film ‘Serious Moonlight’. The film received mixed reviews but Ryan’s performance was highly praised. The same year, she also guest-starred, on the seventh season of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’.
  • After being part of some films that didn’t materialize, she finally appeared on screen again in the PBS documentary ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’ (2012). The same year, her audio-book recording of William Saroyan's ‘The Human Comedy’ was also released.
  • In 2013, she filmed five episodes of her improvisational comedy series ‘Web Therapy’. Next, she featured in the ABC Family film ‘Fan Girl’ which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015.
  • In 2015, she made her directorial debut with a drama film, ‘Ithaca’ based on the novel ‘The Human Comedy’ by William Saroyan. Besides Ryan, the film also starred Sam Shepard, Tom Hanks, Hamish Linklater, Christine Nelson, and her son Jack Quaid.
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Major Works
  • In 1989, Ryan starred in the romantic comedy film ‘When Harry met Sally…’ directed by Rob Reiner. She featured in the title role of ‘Sally Albright’ opposite comedian Billy Crystal who starred as ‘Harry’. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
  • She played the character of Annie Reed in the romantic comedy drama ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ in 1993. The film became an international blockbuster soon after its release and got her several Best Female Performance award nominations.
  • In 1998, she acted as Kathleen Kelly opposite Tom Hanks in the romantic comedy-drama film ‘You've Got Mail’. The commercially successful film explores the lives of two people who are in an online relationship but unaware that they are business rivals in real life. Her performance in the film won her several Best Actress award nominations.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1989, she won the ‘American Comedy Award Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)’ award for her performance in ‘When Harry met Sally…’
  • In 1993, for her performance in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, she won the ‘American Comedy Award Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)’ award.
  • In 1994, Meg Ryan won Harvard's ‘Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year’ title and People Magazine dubbed her one of “the 50 most beautiful people in the world.”
  • In 1995, she was awarded the ‘Women in Film Crystal’ Award which honours “outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, help to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.”
  • In 1998, ‘You’ve Got Mail’ earned her the ‘Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favourite Actress – Comedy/Romance’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Meg Ryan married her co-actor, Dennis Quaid, on February 14, 1991 and the marriage lasted for a decade. The couple has a son, actor Jack Quaid.
  • She adopted a girl child from China, named Daisy True, in 2006. Later, she dated American rock singer-songwriter John Mellencamp from 2010 to 2014.
  • An asteroid, 8353 Megryan, is named after her.
  • She refused the role of ‘Vivian Ward’ in ‘Pretty Woman’ (1990) which was eventually played by Julia Roberts.
  • She was a member of the jury at Festival International de Cannes, 2003.
Net Worth
  • Meg Ryan has an estimated net worth of $45 million.

1. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

  (Drama, Comedy, Romance)

2. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

  (Drama, Romance, Comedy)

3. You've Got Mail (1998)

  (Romance, Comedy, Drama)

4. City of Angels (1998)

  (Drama, Romance, Fantasy)

5. French Kiss (1995)

  (Comedy, Drama, Romance)

6. Top Gun (1986)

  (Drama, Action, Romance)

7. When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

  (Romance, Drama)

8. Kate & Leopold (2001)

  (Fantasy, Comedy, Romance)

See the events in life of Meg Ryan in Chronological Order

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- Meg Ryan Biography
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Last Updated
- July 31, 2017
Meg Ryan

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