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- Rena Sherel Sofer
- Arcadia California
- United States
- Stunning Blue Eyes
- Alot Of Shows Get Cancelled After She Joins Them
Rena Sofer Overview
Rena Sofer is a hard-working American television actress with a charming manner and a gorgeous face highlighted by sparkling blue eyes. Unfortunately, without a Wonderbra, Rena is flat as a crêpe.
After being cast in a string of series that were quickly cancelled, Sofer picked up an undesirable nickname, "The Closer."
In recent seasons, Rena has tried to recoup with guest roles in story arcs in some prominent shows, without translating that into full-time roles.
The mother of two daughters, she has tried to work close to home in Sherman Oaks, California.
Rena Sofer Early Years
Born in Arcadia, Calif., on Dec. 2, 1968, Rena Sofer came from a comfortable background but still had a difficult childhood. Her mismatched parents offer one definition of an "opposite" marriage. When Rena was 2, when her mother left to pursue an academic career in psychology. After the divorce, her rabbi father, Martin, got a job across country at the Jewish Community Center in Teaneck, NJ, where he moved Rena and her brother David.
Rena described her mother's life as "completely opposite to my father's," and told Lifestyles Magazine in 2003 that "as I grew up, I spent very limited time with her."
Several years later, Rabbi Sofer again uprooted his little family to take a job at a Conservative synagogue in Ambridge, PA, outside Pittsburgh. After seven years there, it was back to New Jersey. Rena returned to the school where she had gone to kindergarten in time for eighth grade.
"I wasn't a very confident child," Rena Sofer later told The Jewish News. "I didn't feel beautiful or worth anything."
Her father then enrolled her in the Frisch Academy, a yeshiva in Teaneck. But the rebellious Rena had a difficult time there and transferred to North Bergen High School for her senior year.
While Sofer was still at Frisch, she went on an American Zionist Youth Federation trip to Israel. Later, Rena was hanging out in Greenwich Village with some friends from the trip when a modeling agent "literally just walked up to me" on the street. "I didn't have a lot of self-confidence at the time, and my father thought the work would help me," Rena said.
Rena's raven hair and fair skin added to the appeal of her pretty face and striking eyes. Otherwise, though, she did make an unlikely prospect, since Rena was barely five-foot-six and lacked a classic figure. After a series of rapid rejections for "petite" jobs, the sensitive girl gave up on modeling after a few weeks. But she was inspired to pursue acting. "I knew if I worked hard I could always improve my acting skills," Rena said. "With modeling, your only option is plastic surgery."
Rena Sofer Success
Despite a brief stint at Montclair State University, she continued to pursue acting jobs. While she remained painfully flat-chested, Rena Sofer gradually broke into the world of New York soap operas, first with a bit part on Another World, then a three-season stint on Loving in the role of Rocky. That generated enough notice that Sofer eventually packed up and moved to Los Angeles. "I kind of rebelled against both of them," she said of her parents, "and found my own way."
It wasn't always easy. During the next two years she struggled to find work, taking classes at Santa Monica Community College and helping a friend start a meal delivery service. Then Rena got her big break. Cast as brassy music promoter Lois Cerullo on the long-running General Hospital, she quickly became a fan favorite. This translated into a critical favorite, and Rena Sofer won an Emmy for best supporting actress. The show allowed Sofer to play to her strength, an ability to project empathy along with feistiness.
As the award demonstrated, Rena was also popular among her fellow actors. Newcomer Vanessa Marcil would credit Rena with helping her cope with pressure and criticism. But first, co-star Wallace Kurth, whose Dr. Ned Ashton became Lois Cerullo's on-screen love interest and husband, expressed the same sentiments toward the actress.
Sofer and Kurth were married in 1995, and Rena gave birth to a daughter, Rosabel Rosalind. But like Sofer's own parents, this was another fairy tale with an unhappy ending. The couple quickly drifted apart and divorced in 1997.
In interviews, Rena said she and Wally were unprepared for marriage, and blinded by the glamour of playing a couple on TV. There was another problem. Rena's father disapproved of her marriage to a non-Jew. When rabbi Sofer retired, he moved to Israel.
Rena Sofer Melrose Place
Back in Los Angeles, Rena was increasingly in demand as a guest star on prime-time shows. Her break with Kurth prompted her departure from GH, where he remained a star. In 1998, Rena Sofer got what appeared to be another major career boost, being added to the cast of the long-running night-time soap opera, Melrose Place.
Her character, lounge singer Eve, got a splashy introduction as a mysterious former associate of star Heather Locklear's Amanda. But this time, audiences weren't charmed. Unlike the daytime soaps, Melrose didn't give Sofer much chance to develop her character, who seemed written more as a plot device than a person.
The cast changes and increasingly convoluted plots began costing Melrose some of its core viewers. And while Rena had some sexy scenes, including in the bedroom, she was kept under wraps in all of them. Even when Sofer had a pool scene in Melrose, she went into the water fully clothed.
The cover-up was typical of Sofer. In publicity photos, she frequently is shot only from the shoulders up, or sitting with her knees pulled up to conceal her tiny breasts. Only very occasionally, primarily in candid photos, is she seen in anything low-cut. Whether it was the influence of her conservative father or continuing embarrassment about her lack of cleavage, Rena had difficulty cutting loose before cameras.
Midway through the season, the ax fell on Melrose, although it did get to air its remaining episodes and wrap up its wacky plotlines with a finale.
Rena Sofer Losing Streak
Despite the debacle, Rena quickly bounced back. She was cast as a lead in Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up. Just as quickly, it was cancelled. In this period, Rena was able to land some minor movie parts, notably in Traffic and as a potential love interest for a rabbi in Keeping the Faith, who reminded her of her single father.
In 2001, Rena returned to television with a story arc on Ed, as a potential love interest competing with Julie Bowen for the attentions of the main character. It seemed promising, but the show did not make it through the next season. At the time, Rena seemed unconcerned, saying, "I didn't want to move to New Jersey," where the show was shot.
Almost immediately, she found work on the West Coast as the female lead of a sci-fi series, The Chronicle. The role as a wised-up but still vulnerable reporter allowed Rena to do some of her best work, and her softly pretty, funky but staid appearance was appropriate to the professional, if odd, setting. But the off-beat series on a minor channel proved too hip for the American living room.
Despite her growing list of setbacks, Rena still had fans in the executive suites at NBC, from the president's office on down. At the time, the network was still riding high with its Thursday night block of comedies. NBC signed Sofer to an exclusive one-year retainer, then sent about trying to find a place for her on one of its shows. The suits finally settled on Just Shoot Me, a well-established but middling sitcom set as a magazine, with an ensemble cast headed by smooth George Segal and very sexy Laura San Giacomo.
It was not a good fit. While the producers and writers were careful not to attach their names to the complaints, a raft of stories followed to the effect that Rena Sofer had been "foisted" on the show. The character developed for her, a brassy Brooklynite recalled Lois Cerullo of GH. But her introduction, a casual meeting with Segal's publisher character leading him to hire her as a top advisor, seemed ridiculous even by sitcom standards. Rena's lines were shoehorned in among the strong holdover cast, who included Wendie Malick, Enrico Colantoni and David Spade.
In a cruel welcome, she didn't make it through her first episode before another character made a crack about Sofer's non-existent bosom. To rub it in, the line was delivered by the average-endowed Malick, not the bodacious San Giacomo. Subsequent scenes seemed staged to emphasize the enormous disparity between Laura's 38-D rack and Rena's tiny nubs. Even after motherhood, she was still only 32B and very shallow.
Underlining Rena's inability to compete with San Giacomo was the status of Sofer's character, Vicki. Not surprisingly, Segal's publisher had been involved with a parade of young models, to the disapproval of his daughter, played by San Giacomo.
Now Sofer, slightly younger than San Giacomo, was the apparent girlfriend, and one with no credentials even as a model. What could be amusing when Segal's Jack Gallo was playing the field of guest stars turned creepier when the half-his-age girlfriend was permanently paired with the daughter.
Not surprisingly, midway through the season, NBC announced Just Shoot Me would not be renewed. Rena's character was immediately written out; an episode designed to give her a farewell never aired.
Rena Sofer Coupling
Plucky Rena took the licking but kept on ticking. In late 2003, she re-married, to producer/director Sanford Bookstaver. Their nuptials received a publicity spread in the February 2004 issue of InStyle Magazine. On a personal level, Rena's marriage to a co-religionist won the approval of her father. Rabbi Sofer returned from Israel and moved in with the couple.
Despite her humiliation on "Just Shoot Me," Rena still had fans among the NBC suits. Later that year, they fired their largest bullet, handing her a starring role in the American rendition of the hit UK sitcom, Coupling. The network went all-out to promote the show, a projected hit for 2005. More than any of her co-stars, Sofer was presented as the face of the series. The problems should have been obvious. Coupling was simply the British take on NBC's existing hit, Friends. Produced in a country whose airwaves were not dominated by ultra-conservative religious interests, Coupling was able to be racier and offer more pointed humor than the mild, pleasant US show. Now, NBC would present a copy of the copy, without the advantages that gave the British show its appeal.
"Sometimes it makes us blush when we read the scripts," Rena said primly. "But we’re not doing nudity or simulated sex." Coupling sank like a stone. When Sofer went on Howard Stern to promote it, her appearance did not air until after the show was cancelled. While the failure certainly was not all, or even mainly, her fault, this time the blame stuck to Rena.
Now nicknamed "The Closer", Rena nevertheless got another shot, as the wife of the title character on Blind Justice. Like her previous vehicles, this one crashed and burned.
And so a talented, pretty, apparently intelligent woman, who had achieved previous success and remained in the public eye, racked up a string of failures to the point of being labeled a show killer. Rena's career history is a cautionary tale about the role of luck, as well as good scripts, in acting success.
Although Sofer is capable of nuanced performances, network television often sticks her with one-note roles. With her empathetic approach and subtle appeal, Rena can bring out latent sexuality of a wife or professional woman, and she's also able to be assertive. When called on to be trashily sexy, though, Sofer lacks not just the obvious physique but also the attitude.
Rena Sofer Rebound
In August 2005, Rena gave birth to a daughter by Bookstaver, Avalon. With two children, she became even more concerned about arranging her schedule to care for her family.
But in 2007, Rena made a decisive return to American television with roles on two prominent, and decidedly non-family oriented, shows. She played Nathan Petrelli's wife on the first season of Heroes. Meanwhile, Rena simultaneously joined the cast of the torture-fest 24 as the sister-in-law of superman Jack Bauer.
Appearing on two hit shows catapulted Rena back into the spotlight. Ironically, given her previous roles, some blogs referred to her as "little known." Sofer was enthusiastic about both shows, describing her experience on 24 as "incredible." But both roles had limited runs. While the Heroes spot seemed to promised more action, especially when her crippled character was cured, Sofer was phased out at the end of the first season. The Bauer role was more prominent, giving Rena a chance at action and histrionics, but was conceived as short-term in the show's usual strict framework.
Still, it was better than many of show's guest stars get, and the double-bill seemed to re-establish Rena's credibility. From the standpoint of Chickipedia, neither role was sexy. But they point Rena back toward wife/mother roles, where she may be more comfortable.
In early 2009, though, Rena was reported to be expecting her third child, suggesting another career hiatus with her family.