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Rita Wilson

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Biography

Rita Wilson has enjoyed a long and successful career in show business as an actress, producer, director, and writer, but it wasn't until 40 years after she made her television debut that she branched out into a new line as a pop singer. Wilson was born Margarita Ibrahimoff on October 26, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. She made her screen debut in 1966 as an extra in the Elvis Presley vehicle Spinout, but she began her career proper as a teenager, appearing on a 1972 episode of The Brady Bunch. Over the next several years, she played in a number of television series (she had guest shots on M*A*S*H, Happy Days, Three's Company, and Who's the Boss?), and made her film debut in the forgettable 1979 sci-fi opus The Day It Came to Earth. In 1981, Wilson played a guest role on the sit-com Bosom Buddies, where she first met co-star Tom Hanks. Wilson and Hanks would cross paths again when they co-starred in the 1983 comedy Volunteers; this time, they made a greater impression on one another, and in 1988, the two were married. While her husband's career may have enjoyed a higher public profile, Wilson has remained a popular actress with a busy schedule, playing a wide variety of roles on television and in feature films, including Sleepless in Seattle, The Runaway Bride, The Story of Us, Auto Focus, and It's Complicated. After seeing Nia Vardalos' one woman show My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Wilson was convinced the story had the potential to be a successful screen comedy, and she ended up co-producing the 2002 film version, which became one of the most commercially successful independent films ever. Wilson went on two produce two more film projects for Vardalos, Connie and Carla and My Life in Ruins, as well as the screen adaptation of the hit musical Mamma Mia! In 2007, Wilson made her directorial debut with the short subject The Trap, and she pens a regular column for the online journal The Huffington Post. Wilson grew up as a passionate music fan, and sang with a folk group affiliated with her church as a teenager, but her love of music didn't intersect with her professional life until the summer of 2006, when she was cast as Roxie Hart in the Broadway revival of the musical Chicago. Wilson later told a reporter, "Chicago was life-changing; I thought, ‘I have to create projects that deal with music I really love, because it gives me the most joy.'" With this in mind, she began blocking out plans to record an album. Inspired by the songs of the '60s and ‘70s that first sparked her love of music, Wilson teamed with producer Fred Mollin to record AM/FM, in which she interprets some of her favorite tunes of the era. AM/FM included guest appearances from Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, and Jimmy Webb, who played piano on Wilson's cover of his classic "Wichita Lineman." Wilson supported the release of AM/FM with a short concert tour. In 2016, Wilson released a second album titled Rita Wilson, through her own Sing It Loud label. For her second album, Wilson explored her gifts as a songwriter, co-writing all of the album's 15 tracks. ~ Mark Deming
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