Melissa Ivy Rauch is an American film and television actress and comedian best known for portraying Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz in CBS’ immensely successful sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory’. She has also played the recurring character of Summer in HBO’s dark fantasy ‘True Blood’ and lent her voice to Harley Quinn in the direct-to-video animated film, ‘Batman and Harley Quinn’. A native of New Jersey, Rauch first became interested in acting when she was a student at Marlboro High School. At the beginning of her career in the entertainment industry, she worked as a regular contributor to VH1's ‘Best Week Ever’ television show. She made her acting debut in 2006 in the romance drama film ‘Delirious’. Rauch debuted on the small screen two years later, playing a recurring character in NBC’s comedy series ‘Kath & Kim’. In 2009, she appeared in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for the first time. She originally had a recurring role but later was promoted to the main cast of the show.
In the early days of her career, Melissa Rauch served as a regular contributor to VH1's ‘Best Week Ever’ television show. She also worked as a comedian in New York. In 2006, Rauch started off her acting career by portraying a character named Megan in director Tom DiCillo’s comedy ‘Delirious’, that also starred Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt and Alison Lohman. A year later, she was slated to make her small-screen debut in ‘12 Miles of Bad Road’, a television series that was originally supposed to air on HBO, but following the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike, only six episodes were filmed. HBO later announced that they would not televise the show.
She made her small-screen debut with the recurring role of Tina in six episodes of the first and the only season of the short-lived sitcom ‘Kath & Kim’ in 2008-09. In 2009, she wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the short film ‘The Condom Killer’. In the following year, she co-wrote yet another short, ‘Partially Stalked Love’.
Rauch’s character in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, first appeared in the season three as a co-worker of Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and a possible love interest of Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). By season four, she had become a regular on the show. Rauch and Mayim Bialik, who portrays Amy Farrah Fowler, joined the cast of the series in the same season and have maintained parallel trajectories of their respective tenures in the show. It has aired 11 seasons to date and is set to premiere its 12th season on September 24, 2018. For her performance, Rauch was nominated for the Critics Choice Television Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2013.
In 2010, she guest-starred in an episode of ‘The Office’ (US), played the recurring character Summer in the season three of ‘True Blood’, and appeared in the television film ‘Wright vs. Wrong’. She worked with fellow comedians Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler in the 2013 comedy drama ‘Are You Here’. She and her husband saw the release of the first film made from their screenplay soon after. Titled ‘The Bronze’ (2015), the movie starred Rauch as Hope Ann Greggory, a former gymnastics bronze medallist, who lives off her past glory in her hometown.
Rauch is also a prolific voice actor. She lent her voice to Francine in the 2016 American computer-animated comedy film ‘Ice Age: Collision Course’ and Harley Quinn in ‘Batman and Harley Quinn’. She has also provided the voice for several TV show characters, including Fairy Tizzy in ‘Sofia the First’ (2015), Kiki in ‘Scooby-Doo! and the Beach Beastie’ (2015), The Wasp in ‘Marvel's Ant-Man’ (2017). She is at present set to appear in the upcoming live-action comedy ‘Ode to Joy’.
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Melissa Rauch was born on June 23, 1980, in Marlboro Township, New Jersey, to Susan and David Rauch. Both of her parents are Jewish and they raised Melissa and her brother Ben in an affluent household. She attended Marlboro High School where her interest in acting first started to take shape. After graduating high school, Rauch enrolled at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City from where she graduated in 2002.
Melissa met screenwriter Winston Beigel while they were both in college. They formed a writing team in 2005 and worked on several projects, including a comedy stage show called ‘The Miss Education of Jenna Bush’. The show was a hit and even won an award for an outstanding solo show at the New York International Fringe Festival. The couple married in 2007. Winston subsequently adopted his wife’s surname.
On July 11, 2017, Rauch made the news of her pregnancy public and revealed that she had previously suffered a miscarriage. Melissa and Winston’s daughter, whom they named Sadie, was born in late 2017. Rauch announced the birth on 4 December on her Instagram account.
According to Rauch, she drew inspiration for the voice of Bernadette from her real-life parents!