|Famous For: The Big Bang Theory||Currently Known For: Actress|
Currently Known For Actress
“I’m too small for Twister and roller coasters and sitting with my feet on the floor. Hope you enjoyed the prenatal cigarettes, Mom.” A 4’11” tall American actress and comedian best known for playing Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory, Melissa Rauch was—believe it or not—about to call it quits when she landed the biggest role of her career. Born and raised in a Jewish family in Marlboro Township, New Jersey in the 1980s, Rauch developed an interest in acting in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a student at Marlboro High School. After graduation, she pursued her dreams of acting and moved to New York City where she graduated from Marymount Manhattan College. “I was a super shy, awkward kid, and performing was a comfortable and joyful way of expressing myself that allowed me the freedom to do so,” Rauch said of her desire to become an actress. “The passion for acting grew from there. From the time I was little, being on the stage or inhabiting a character was always where I was happiest.”
Despite her plans to make it big as an actress in New York City, Rauch struggled to find her footing and found early work as a regular contributor on VH1’s Best Week Ever television series. When she wasn’t working with VH1, she was making ends meet by waitressing in New Jersey. “I was kind of like the Rhea Perlman of the bar,” Rauch admitted of her early job. “I was like Carla on Cheers. People were more afraid of me. There was a point when I got a little surly. There were only so many chicken wings I could serve before losing the smile on my face.”
She auditioned for numerous pilots, but nothing stuck until 2009 when she took a huge leap of faith and answered a casting call for one of her favorite shows, The Big Bang Theory. “I was at the unemployment office the week before I got the job,” Rauch later admitted. “I was thrilled to just get the audition for a one-time guest star role on Big Bang, as I was a fan of the show… The character description just said something like, ‘Cute, sweet Catholic scientist who goes on a date with Howard.’ I knew she lived with her mother and that her mother dressed her, so I wanted to do something that made her more child-like, and I thought of raising the pitch of her voice a bit.”
Rauch’s audition was spot on and she not only landed the part but was quickly brought on as a series regular, a dream come true for the young actress and comedian who has been on the series since 2009. With the show now in its 11th season, Rauch has happily watched as her on-screen love story with Howard Wolowitz has unfolded from marriage to parenthood with Rauch’s own real-life pregnancy bringing another child into the family for Bernadette and Howard in season 11! So, who exactly is the cute, sweet Catholic scientist that Big Bang Theory fans have all grown to love and fear? Let’s take a look!
All About Bernadette: Friendly, Manic, and Manipulative
“I took Howard to the beach once. He almost burst into flames like a vampire.” Often described as “smart, short-tempered, ruthless, and competitive with a dark side,” Bernadette Maryann Rostenkowski is also sweet and friendly, manic and manipulative. She’s first introduced as Penny’s friend and coworker at The Cheesecake Factory where she works as a waitress to pay for her graduate studies in biology. Eventually earning her Ph.D., Bernadette is a force of nature and uses her charm and sharp tongue to manipulate everyone from her boss and her parents to Howard, whom she meets through Penny.
Despite having very little in common in terms of interests and hobbies, Bernadette and Howard bond over their domineering mothers. After three dates, Bernadette takes control of the relationship and puts Howard’s feet to the fire about whether he wants a long-term relationship with her or not. Ultimately deciding he does and proposing marriage, Bernadette declines the proposal but ultimately makes up with Howard and accepts his second proposal as they begin planning their wedding. In the meantime, Bernadette earns her doctorate and takes a top-paying position with a pharmaceutical company.
Marrying just before Howard leaves on the International Space Station, Bernadette and Howard face a series of obstacles as newlyweds before Bernadette learns that she’s pregnant in the ninth season. Later welcoming their daughter in season 10, Bernadette keeps a tight leash on Howard and monitors his every move only to learn that she’s pregnant with a second baby in season 11 and is forced to spend six months on bed rest where she discovers her favorite pastime—binge-watching detective shows!
The Dish on Dating and Relationships
“Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?” The 37-year-old Rauch actually met her husband, Winston Beigel, in college and, since 2005, has worked with him on several writing projects. One of those projects included the comedy stage show, The Miss Education of Jenna Bush, which earned the Outstanding Solo Show Award at the New York International Fringe Festival. They also worked on The Condom Killers and If We’re Not Married by 30 with their most recent project, The Bronze, released in 2015.
“The original idea stemmed from us wanting to write about celebrity in a small town, particularly what happens when that star begins to fade and what that can do to the psyche, especially one of a young girl,” Rauch said of the inspiration behind the Olympic-themed film. “It was also the exploration of what can happen when you are no longer able to do what you feel you were put on this earth to do. When that is ripped away from you, how does someone who doesn’t have the emotional tools to handle that move forward?”
Although The Bronze received negative reviews from critics, that hasn’t stopped Rauch and her husband from putting other ideas on paper. “My husband and I are usually writing when I’m not at Big Bang,” Rauch says. “We were writing partners before we got together as a couple, so that’s always been something we love doing together… We have another movie we are working on, and we’re writing a TV pilot for HBO—both of which we are really excited about!”
Beyond writing with her husband, Rauch spends most of her time working on The Big Bang Theory and remains grateful for the incredible opportunities the show has given her in terms of additional projects and an extended family thanks to costars like Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco. “I love the TV family that I am so lucky to be a part of. It is such a wonderful group of people whom I adore being around,” she says. As for her favorite episodes, it’s hard to pick just one but Rauch admits, “I tend to gravitate toward the episodes where we are doing things as an ensemble—the scavenger hunt episode, the one where we went to a science conference together and everyone is fighting, and of course, the coitus episode last season.”
In 2017, Rauch threw The Big Bang Theory writers another curveball when she announced that she and her husband were expecting their first child. The writers happily wrote Rauch’s pregnancy into Howard and Bernadette’s storyline for season 11, which only reaffirmed Rauch’s love for the series even more. It also helped her be more open about her pregnancy and the devastating miscarriage she experienced previously.
“Here is the only statement regarding my pregnancy that doesn’t make me feel like a complete fraud: ‘Melissa is expecting her first child. She is extremely overjoyed, but if she’s being honest, due to the fact that she had a miscarriage the last time she was pregnant, she’s pretty much terrified at the moment that it will happen again,” she told Glamour magazine. “She feels weird even announcing this at all and would rather wait until her child heads off to college to tell anyone, but she figures she should probably share this news before someone sees her waddling around with her mid-section protruding and announces it first.”
Although season 11 hasn’t yet wrapped for The Big Bang Theory, which means that Bernadette and Howard haven’t yet welcomed their second child, we’re happy to report that Rauch gave birth to a healthy baby girl on December 4, 2017. Now balancing motherhood with an already busy schedule that includes The Big Bang Theory as well as credits in Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Marvel’s Ant Man, Blaze and the Monster Machines, and Batman and Harley Quinn, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for the new mother, wife, actress, writer, and comedian!