YouTube/oliveira1983 | Getty Images
YouTube/oliveira1983 | Getty Images

Jennifer Grey Said She Felt Invisible after Facial Transformation Made Her ‘Anonymous'

Titi Dokubo
Dec 03, 2021
09:20 P.M.

Jennifer Grey became famous after her role as "Baby" in the cult dance classic "Dirty Dancing." But, the release of the movie came at a terrible period in her life.


The actress and dancer had just suffered an accident that killed two other people before she became famous. Despite the success of the film, she could not celebrate her new fame.

A few years later, Jennifer Grey's career stalled as she went from being a famous actress to anonymous. Here's a look at her life before and after "Dirty Dancing."


Jennifer Grey was born to the renowned actor, singer, dancer, director, and photographer, Joel Grey, on March 26, 1960, in New York. She started taking dance lessons from an early age, and at the beginning of the 1980s, she landed her first small role.

Grey attended the Dalton School, where she studied dance and acting and graduated in 1978. After her graduation, she enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, where she trained to be an actress for two years.


To support herself while waiting for roles, she had to work as a waitress. Grey made her commercial debut in an ad for Dr. Pepper while making her film debut in the 1984 movie "Reckless."

In the same year, she got a minor role in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Cotton Club," starred in the war film "Red Dawn," then starred in the 1985 sports drama "American Flyers" and in the 1986 comedy film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," with Matthew Broderick.

But it was in 1987 that her professional career took a whole new turn. Grey landed the leading role of Frances "Baby" Houseman in the film "Dirty Dancing" alongside the young Patrick Swayze.



The screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein wrote the script based on her childhood. The movie became a cult dance movie that gave us the most iconic lift, shot in one take, in cinema history.

Once they did the take, Grey had no plans of recreating the lift. Thanks to this film, she acquired worldwide fame with a nomination for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role.

Shortly before the film was released, she was involved in an accident with Matthew Broderick, her boyfriend at the time.

The accident happened in Ireland and left Broderick with a broken leg while the two passengers in the other car were killed instantly. He was convicted for careless driving, and Grey suffered severe whiplash.

Despite the success of "Dirty Dancing," Grey's grief and survivor's guilt prevented her from enjoying the film's success. She did not follow the cast for their promotional tours.


Her acting career stalled with time, and the whiplash she sustained from the accident left Grey with chronic pain for more than 20 years.


The pain had also meant Grey couldn't do the things she loved as much as she would have loved. She had to give up dancing and only picked it up again in later years.



To worsen the state of her career, Grey decided to go for a nose job in the early 1990s. She said:

"I went in the operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous. It was like being in a witness protection program or being invisible."

The result of the nose job was such a disaster that no one, not even her close friends, recognized her anymore. The change in her appearance was a major one that even agents stopped calling her for movie roles.


Grey went for a second nose job to correct the problem with the first one. It wasn't the look she wanted, and she called it "the nose job from hell."

When Grey altered her looks, she said her desire for fame was gone, and she just wanted to be a wife and mother. However, it took her over another decade before she got married.



On July 21, 2001, Grey and Marvel's Agent of SHIELD star, Clark Gregg, married in a ceremony on Martha's Vineyard after dating for about a year.

On December 3, 2001, the couple welcomed their daughter, Stella Francis, who has also become an actress. She has acted alongside her father in "Trust Me" and her mother in "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Grey and Gregg announced on July 3, 2020, that they had separated in January 2020. After 19 years, Gregg had officially filed for divorce from Grey.



Even though Grey had some setbacks, from March 1999 until January 2000, she starred in the sitcom "It's Like, You Know..." Grey starred as herself, and after two seasons, ABC canceled the series.

While playing herself, she decided to focus on saying the things people had said behind her back to make fun of the situations in her life.

After she focused on her plastic surgery issue on the show, Grey hoped she wouldn't have to deal with it anymore because almost every interview concentrated on that subject.

Jennifer Grey at the L.A. Dance Project Annual Gala on October 16, 2021, in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

Jennifer Grey at the L.A. Dance Project Annual Gala on October 16, 2021, in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

In 1995, she was a guest star on "Friends" and "Fallen Angels." That same year, Grey starred in the romantic comedy "Lover's Knot."


In 1996 Grey was cast as an attorney in "Portraits of a Killer, and in 1997, she starred in "Red Meat." Grey starred alongside Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2000 movie "Bounce."

While still dealing with the pains she sustained from the accident in 1987, Grey was approached to do "Dancing with the Stars" multiple times, and each time she had refused.


However, with the encouragement of friends, she agreed to go on the show and needed to get her physical done to prove that she was fit.

Her doctors discovered that Grey had compressed her spinal cord, and she was one fall or one slip away from paralysis. Her doctor ordered two spinal surgeries, and during the surgeries, they found a lump in her thyroid.

The benign lump was now cancerous and had it not been discovered; she would have suffered thyroid cancer. Luckily, she didn't need chemotherapy or radiation, and they completely removed her thyroid.


After her surgeries, the doctors placed a titanium plate in her neck, and she was finally ready to compete in "Dancing with the Stars."

In 2010, Grey joined the 11th season of the show and quickly became the season's favorite. Grey consistently had the highest individual score in most of the dance styles.

She was at the top of the leaderboard more than any other contestant during the season. The night before the finale, Grey ruptured a disc in her spine but still ended up winning the show.

At 62, the "Dirty Dancing" star who still looks good has learned not to be bothered about what people think of her, and she says she has no regrets about her past.


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