Born In: Los Angeles, California, United States
Thora Birch is an American actress and producer who is most known for starring in the extremely successful movies American Beauty and Ghost World. She won a BAFTA nomination (Best Supporting Actress) for the former film and a Golden Globe nomination (Best Actress) for the latter. She also won an Emmy Award nomination for playing the lead role in the biopic television movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story. Thora Birch started her career at the age of four working in commercials and ended up becoming a child and teen star. Some of her other movies of the time include Patriot Games, Now and Then and Alaska. After achieving fame, she appeared in a series of unnoticed films and then took a break from acting. Since making her comeback, she has appeared in numerous movies including The Etruscan Smile, The Competition and Above Suspicion. She also did a cameo role in The Last Black Man in San Francisco and became a part of the tenth season of the television series The Walking Dead.
Spouse/Ex-: Michael Benton Adler
father: Jack Birch
mother: Carol Connors
siblings: Bolt Birch
Born Country: United States
Ancestry: Italian American, German American
U.S. State: California
Thora Birch was born on 11 March, 1982 in Los Angeles, California. She was the eldest child of her parents – Jack Birch & Carol Connors – who were both former adult stars. She was named after Thor, the Norse God of thunder and lightning. Her younger brother was named Kian Bolt Birch.
Due to their own experiences in the entertainment industry, her parents were not keen on her joining it; however, they were convinced by a babysitter – who spotted her talent – to share her photographs with an agent.
At the age of four, Thora Birch auditioned for and was selected for Quaker Oats commercial. This was followed by appearances in more commercials like Burger King, California Raisins and Vlasic Pickles.
In 1988, she made both her television and film debut. Her television debut came with NBC’s sitcom Day by Day (1988-89) while her big screen debut was in a sci-fi comedy Purple People Eater. She was nominated for Young Artist Awards for both and won for the latter.
The year 1989 also saw her guest starring in the medical drama series Doogie Howser, M.D.
In 1990, she was roped in as one of the main leads of the comedy drama television series Parenthood. The series ran up till 1991, the year when she was cast in the drama film Paradise and the romantic comedy Christmas film All I Want for Christmas.
In 1992, she portrayed Sally Ryan, Jack Ryan’s (played by Harrison Ford) daughter in the spy action thriller film Patriot Games and lent her voice in a short film Itsy Bitsy Spider. The former film was a commercial success and had a massively successful sequel – Clear and Present Danger – in 1994 wherein Thora Birch reprised her role.
In 1993, in the comedy fantasy film Hocus Pocus, she played Dani, a young girl chased by the villainous comedic trio of witches on Halloween Day. The movie was initially a box office disappointment but later attained cult status.
In 1994, in the comedy drama film Monkey Trouble, Thora Birch was seen as Eva Gregory, a girl who adopts a monkey only to find out that it is a trained thief. The film received mixed reviews, though her performance was appreciated.
The next two years saw her in the role of the younger Tina “Teeny” Tercell in the coming-of-age film Now and Then (1995) and Jessie Barnes in the adventure survival film Alaska (1996).
Before the century ended, Thora Birch landed the role of a lifetime in the Sam Mendes-directed black comedy drama film American Beauty. In this 1999 movie, she played Jane Burnham, the moody, disillusioned teenaged daughter of the protagonist, Lester Burnham.
For her portrayal of the character, she received a BAFTA nomination in the best supporting actress category. The film itself won five Oscars and is the biggest commercial success of Thora Birch.
Her other television work during the 1990s include two television movies Dark Avenger (1990) and Night Ride Home (1999); two guest appearances in drama series Promised Land and Touched by an Angel (both 1997) and episodic appearances in sitcoms Married People (1990), Amen (1991), Monty (1994) and television series The Outer Limits (1995).
The beginning of 2000 saw her working in the black comedy film Smokers (2000), the action-adventure fantasy film Dungeons & Dragons (2000) and the psychological horror thriller film The Hole (2001).
The year 2001 also saw her featuring as the young, jaded and socially awkward student Enid Coleslaw in Terry Zwigoff’s black comedy film Ghost World. The film, based on Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel of the same name, received highly positive reviews and went on to become a cult classic. Thora Birch’s work earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
After appearing in an episode of a horror anthology series Night Visions in 2002, she played the lead character in the biographical television film Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003).
The plot followed the story of Elizabeth Murray, who despite her personal difficulties and tragedies, went on to win a scholarship to study at Harvard. Her work won her an Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actress category.
During this time, Thora also appeared in the music videos of musician and singer Moby's song We Are All Made Of Stars and rap rock band Limp Bizkit’s song Eat You Alive.
Following these, Thora Birch retreated from limelight, worked less and did so in movies that did not create much buzz. These include Silver City (2004), Slingshot (2005), Dark Corners (2006), Train (2008), Winter of Frozen Dreams and Deadline (both 2009).
She also narrated a short film The Dot (2004) and lent her voice in an episode of television series My Life as a Teenage Robot (2005).
In 2010, in the television movie The Pregnancy Pact, she played the role of Sidney Bloom, a blogger who brings to light a group of Massachusetts high school friends who agree to give birth and raise their children communally. The film received positive review from critics.
In 2012, she co-produced and starred as Vivian Petunia in the independent dramedy Petunia.
In between, in 2011, she obtained a law degree from Kaplan University and in 2012 was a California delegate for President Barack Obama at the Democratic Party convention.
In 2015, Thora Birch lent her voice to a short film World Gone Water and the following year returned to acting with a recurring role in the sci-fi- drama series Colony.
Her film releases after her return include the independent comedy drama The Etruscan Smile, the romantic comedy The Competition (also co-producer) and the political thriller Affairs of State (all in 2018). The first film was well received and even won the Boston Film Festival award in the Best Ensemble Cast category.
In 2019, she played a cameo in Sundance hit The Last Black Man in San Francisco and bagged the recurring role of a Whisperer named Gamma in the tenth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead.
Her other films in 2019 include Above Suspicion, a thriller about the first ever FBI agent to be convicted for murder and another horror thriller film Kindred Spirits.
Her upcoming film in 2021 is Lindsay Gossling directed independent drama 13 Minutes.
In 2018, Thora Birch married talent manager and philanthropist Michael Benton Adler in San Francisco. She credits him for her return to spotlight.
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