Childhood & Early Life
Tracy Reiner was born on July 7, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Penny Marshall, who later became a well-known filmmaker. Tracy was born out of Penny’s relationship with Michael Henry. Tracy lived with her maternal grandparents in New Mexico. Meanwhile, Penny moved to Los Angeles to build a career in the film industry.
By the time Tracy was eight years old, Penny and director Rob Reiner had married and had started tasting success in their respective careers. Rob adopted Tracy, and she subsequently moved to Los Angeles to live with her parents. As a kid, she joined dance and acting classes in the hope of making a career in the same industry that her parents were a part of.
She found herself socializing with countless elite personalities of Hollywood, and this terrified her. In Los Angeles, she attended the ‘Colfax Avenue School’ and a French school, where she learned the French language. Later, she majored in ‘The History of Storytelling,’ from Bennington College.’
After finishing high school, she had started developing an interest in philosophy, mythology, religion, and art history. Acting was not a part of her career goal, and she was more interested in writing. In order to make ends meet, she did odd jobs in restaurants.
She faced the camera for the first time at the age of 13, with the kids’ show ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ She appeared on the show for the next four years, and hated the limelight initially.
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As a professional actor, Tracy made her acting debut with with 1984 film ‘The Flamingo Kid,’ which was directed by her paternal uncle Garry Marshall. She played ‘Polly,’ a minor role that went unnoticed.
Over the next few years, she appeared in films such as ‘The Sure Thing,’ ‘Nothing in Common,’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ and ‘Big.’ However, she was mostly seen reading and studying philosophy, and she did not seem to be paying enough attention to her acting career.
In 1988, she became a small part of the Bruce Willis-starrer cult classic ‘Die Hard.’ Though her roles were too small to be noticed, she was somehow gaining attention. Being from one of the most talented and high-profile Hollywood families, she naturally drew a lot of attention from both the audience and the filmmakers of the industry.
By the late 80s, she furthered her acting career by appearing in a few successful films, such as ‘When Harry met Sally...,’ ‘Masque of the Red Death,’ and ‘New Year’s Day.’ Her performance in ‘A League of Their Own,’ a comedy drama, received immense appreciation.
In 1993, she was asked to reprise her role from the film ‘A League of Their Own’ in the ‘CBS’ sitcom of the same name. Tracy starred in a leading role alongside Megan Cavanagh. The series was aired for five episodes but was eventually cancelled due to low ratings. However, this was one of the few leading roles of her career.
In 1995, she played a major role in the science-fiction film ‘Apollo 13,’ starring Tom Hanks in the leading role. The film was one of the best-praised films of the year and received several awards and nominations. Tracy’s performance as ‘Mary’ was critically acclaimed and paved her path toward bigger roles.
In 1996, she appeared in another Tom Hanks film ‘The Thing That You Do!,’ which was another critical and commercial success. In 1996, she appeared in the low-budget independent film ‘Frame by Frame’ and followed it up with ‘With Friends Like These...’ in 1998.
Her choice of films indicated that she was not particularly keen on building a career in acting. However, she had already established herself as a “behind the camera person” and working in front of the camera was just her way of paying her bills.
In 2000, she worked in a lesser-known independent film ‘Straight Right’ and followed it up with another indie, ‘The New Woman,’ the next year.
In 2001, she starred in the teen romantic comedy ‘The Princess Diaries,’ starring Anne Hathaway. The same year, she played the role of a nurse in ‘Riding in Cars with Boys.’ She lengthened her filmography in the next few years with films such as ‘Saved by the Rules’ and ‘Raising Helen.’
In 2004, she appeared in ‘The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,’ a romantic comedy, which was a sequel to ‘The Princess Diaries.’ Unlike its first installment, the film was thrashed by critics but fared rather well at the box office.
In 2006, she appeared in two films ‘Stay Awake’ and ‘State’s Evidence,’ after which she took a long break from films in order to concentrate on her marriage and personal life.
She made her on-screen comeback with the 2010 movie ‘Valentine’s Day,’ directed by her uncle, Garry Marshall. In the romantic comedy, she played a French photographer. The film received bad reviews but was successful at the box office.
Following the success of ‘Valentine’s Day,’ she took a five-year-long break from acting, before making her comeback with the 2015 independent film ‘Chloe and Theo.’ The film was a drama, in which she played a homeless woman. She will be seen as ‘Mayo Methot’ in another independent drama ‘Bogie and Bacall,’ a period film set in the golden era of Hollywood.
Apart from playing minor roles in various big productions, Tracy works as a writer and producer. She has also worked as a development executive for various film production companies. She runs an independent film-production company called ‘Manifesto Films Inc.’