Before Jane Krakowski became a TV star via Ally McBeal and 30 Rock -- and before she launched a career as a recording artist, for that matter -- she was a veteran of the stage, beginning a career that she maintained even as her small-screen career thrived. The daughter of a chemical engineer and a college theater professor, Krakowski was born in Parsippany, NJ. Thanks to her mother’s profession, she was raised in theater, taking dance lessons as a child as well. Krakowski began her professional career early, making a memorable appearance in National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983 when she was 15. She appeared on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow between 1984-1986, earning two Emmy nominations, then made the leap to the Great White Way at the age of 18, starring in Starlight Express. Krakowski continued to appear in film during the back half of the ‘80s, but she made her greatest impact on the stage, receiving a Tony nomination for Grand Hotel in 1989.
Grand Hotel boosted Krakowski’s profile but was nothing compared to what arrived in 1997, when she was cast in a supporting role on Ally McBeal. Here, Krakowski was able to flaunt her comic chops, something that served her well in films, including her role as Betty in 2000’s The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. Ally McBeal left the airwaves in 2002 and Krakowski continued to focus on the stage, winning a Tony for the 2003 revival of Nine and appearing in the 2005 London revival of Guys & Dolls, but the next true jolt to her career arrived in 2006 when she was cast as the flighty Jenna Maroney in 30 Rock. It was a role that brought her two more Emmy nominations and helped lead to her recording career, which launched in 2010 with the cabaret album The Laziest Gal in Town. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine