Celebrity Then And Now
Johnny Galecki
Famous For: The Big Bang TheoryCurrently Known For: Actor
Johnny Galecki
Famous For The Big Bang Theory
Currently Known For Actor

“Penny, you don’t want to get into it with Sheldon. The guy is one lab accident away from being a super villain.” The eldest of three children born to a mortgage consultant and a member of the United States Air Force, John Mark Galecki came into this world on April 30, 1975 in Bree, Belgium. As a child, he had a knack for making up tall tales and stories, which inspired his decision to pursue acting. He landed his first acting gig at 12 years old in the 1987 CBS miniseries, Murder Ordained, and followed up with his feature film debut as Rusty Griswold in the 1989 comedy flick, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. By then, Galecki knew he was unstoppable when it came time to pursue his Hollywood dream!

Galecki was cast as Danny Nash on the NBC comedy American Dreamer and jumped over to the ABC network where he was a regular on Billy. Adding in a guest appearance on Blossom opposite future Big Bang Theory costar Mayim Bialik, Galecki was still on Billy when he snagged a recurring role as Mark Healy’s younger brother, David, on the award-winning sitcom, Roseanne. With his character dating Roseanne’s daughter, Darlene, it only made sense to bring Galecki on as a regular cast member and he remained an integral part of the show from 1992 to 1997 when David and Darlene married and started a family as the sitcom came to a close.

With such incredible success on Roseanne, many had high hopes that Galecki would find staying power in Hollywood but that wasn’t the case, at least not initially. He snagged only minor parts in Bean, Suicide Kings, Vanilla Sky, Family Torn Apart, Bookies, My Name is Earl, and My Boys before he made his way to Broadway where he starred in The Little Dog Laughed. “At its core, the play is about what we all sacrifice to be successful, whatever our careers or goals,” Galecki said of his award-winning performance as a prostitute.

Shortly after Galecki took home a 2007 Theater World Award for his performance on Broadway, he auditioned for and won the part of Leonard Hofstadter in CBS’s newest comedy sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Although he was originally asked to take the role of Sheldon Cooper, Galecki believed he was better suited for Leonard and convinced the show’s creators, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, of exactly that! With the show now in its 11th season, Galecki’s intuitions were spot on as fans tune in week after week to watch his friendship with Sheldon and his relationship with Penny unfold as Galecki (and his costars) take home $1 million per episode in what many fans argue is one of television’s most adored sitcoms.

All About Leonard: Princeton University Graduate and Experimental Physicist

“I am like a romance ninja. You don’t see it coming and them, bam! Romance, watch out, hearts, kisses, love, woo-ya!” Loosely based on the show’s co-creator, Bill Prady, and his early career as a computer programmer, Leonard Hofstadter is often described as the “straight man” of the series in comparison to Sheldon’s obvious physical humor and Penny’s vibrant antics and girl-next-door charm. Named after actor and producer Sheldon Leonard and Nobel Prize physicist Robert Hofstadter, Leonard is a New Jersey native and a graduate of Princeton University who works as an experimental physicist at Caltech alongside Sheldon, his roommate and best friend.

Despite feeling at home with his geeky friends and colleagues, Leonard is always trying to be more social and break free of the “geek” stereotype. One of his best advantages is that he has little trouble interacting with new people, which is why Leonard was instantly attracted to Penny and immediately set out to date her. However, it takes Leonard some time to work up the courage to ask her out but, once he does, she dismisses him because she doesn’t feel smart enough since she lacks any type of formal education.

Although Leonard and Penny eventually start dating other people, they ultimately make their way back to one another and, after some time, agree that they both attempted to sabotage their relationship. As they cycle through rekindling their romance, breaking up, and making up, Leonard and Penny finally marry in a small ceremony where they each share their deepest thoughts and heartfelt love for one another. “Leonard, standing here with you in front of our family and friends is bringing up a lot of feelings like what a good idea it was to elope the first time,” Penny says in her vows, “but also how incredibly happy you make me. Thank you for marrying me hopefully for the last time.” Leonard’s response is just as sweet as he says, “Penny, as a scientist my job is to figure out why things happen, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand how someone like me could get to be with someone like you. You know, maybe I don’t need to understand it. I just need to be grateful. I love you, Penny.”

The Dish on Dating and Relationships

“Ugh. This would be so much easier if I were a violent sociopath.” As Big Bang Theory writers finally gave fans exactly what they hoped for when Leonard and Penny admitted their feelings for one another, Galecki was already ahead of the game and had been secretly dating Cuoco for two years. However, the couple broke up in 2009 as Galecki later promised fans that he and Cuoco were still great friends. “We’re dear friends, still,” he said. “Kaley’s not just an ex, she’s a part of my life.” As for why the two chose to keep their relationship a secret, Galecki said it had everything to do with ensuring Penny’s and Leonard’s storylines on the show weren’t confused with their own relationship. “I just worry that it will conflict with people’s acceptance of Leonard and Penny,” Galecki said. “I get the curiosity, but I don’t want to distract from the story.”

After breaking things off with Cuoco, Galecki started dating former Pan Am star Kelli Garner. First spotted together on a romantic vacation in Mexico and then later at Cuoco’s nuptials to tennis star Ryan Sweeting, Galecki and Garner seemed to be going strong until the couple called it quits after two years in August 2014. However, like his breakup with Cuoco, Galecki remained friends with Garner as one source reported, “Johnny and Kelli are still best friends.”

Apart from his two major breakups, Galecki keeps a tight lid on his personal life and spent a lot of time at his 360-acre ranch in Santa Margarita, California until the entire property was destroyed in the Hill Fire wildfire in late June 2017. Devastated by the loss of his vineyards and home, Galecki admitted that wildfires are simply part of reality for those living in the area. “The threat, we live with it constantly, which may seem crazy to some, but we do so because living in our beautiful, rural area makes it worthwhile,” he says.

Outside of rebuilding his estate in Santa Margarita, the 42-year-old Galecki has plenty of work to keep him busy. In 2016, he tried his hand at producing with The Master Cleanse and then starred as Gabriel Brown in Rings in 2017. He continues to star as Dr. Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory and even voiced the role for a special episode of Family Guy titled “Business Guy.” Of course, Big Bang Theory keeps him incredibly busy, which is why his last television credit outside of the sitcom came in 2011 when he appeared as himself in three episodes of Entourage.

Making $1 million per episode on Big Bang, it’s no surprise that Galecki is perfectly content with where he is in his career at the end of the day. “It’s that one thing that you’re passionate about that you end up developing tunnel vision for and everything else tends to fall by the wayside,” he says. “Passion is appealing and universal.” That passion is certainly paying off for Galecki who’s worth around $50 million and counting!

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