Jennifer Tilly

Jennifer Tilly

Jennifer Tilly in 2006
Born Jennifer Ellen Chan
(1958-09-16) September 16, 1958
Harbor City, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Stephens College
Occupation Actress, poker player
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Sam Simon (m. 1984–91)
Partner(s) Phil Laak (2004–present)[1]

Jennifer Tilly (born Jennifer Ellen Chan;[2] September 16, 1958)[3] is a Canadian-American actress and poker player. She is a World Series of Poker Ladies' Event bracelet winner. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Olive Neal in the film Bullets over Broadway (1994). Her other film roles include Let It Ride (1989) Made in America (1993), Bound (1996), Liar Liar (1997) and Bride of Chucky (1998). She has done extensive voice-over work including Celia in Monsters, Inc. (2001). She is the older sister of actress Meg Tilly.

Early life

Tilly was born Jennifer Ellen Chan in Harbor City, Los Angeles. She is the first child of Harry Chan, a used car salesman, and Patricia (née Tilly), a Canadian schoolteacher and former stage actress.[4] Her father was of Chinese descent and her mother was of Irish, First Nations and Finnish ancestry.[5][6][7][8] She has an older brother, Steve, and two younger sisters, Meg and Rebecca.[9]

Following her parents' divorce when she was five, Tilly was raised by her mother and stepfather, John Ward, on rural Texada Island, British Columbia. Her mother divorced again when Tilly was 16, and moved to Victoria, where Tilly attended Belmont High School.[10][11]

Tilly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater from Stephens College in Missouri.[12]



In 1983, Tilly had small roles and had a recurring guest role on Hill Street Blues as Gina Srignoli, a mobster's widow who becomes romantically involved with detective Henry Goldblume. She played Frasier Crane's seductive-but-ditzy date Kandi Pearson on an episode of the fourth season of Cheers and appeared as a similar character on the eleventh season of Frasier.

She appeared as Garry's girlfriend on It's Garry Shandling's Show, which aired on Showtime. She was also cast as a high-end prostitute on the short-lived comedy Key West, alongside Fisher Stevens. In 1989, she had a prominent role in the comedy Let It Ride, starring Richard Dreyfuss. Tilly's breakthrough film role was as a singing waitress in The Fabulous Baker Boys in a role that was written specially for her by Steve Kloves. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a hopelessly bad actress in Woody Allen's Bullets over Broadway but she lost to her co-star Dianne Wiest. In 1994, she also had a small role in The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

Tilly at 2007 World Poker Tour

Tilly starred in Bound (1996), directed by The Wachowskis, which portrays a lesbian relationship her character has with Gina Gershon. She played Samantha Cole in the Jim Carrey comedy Liar Liar (1997). In Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000), she played a stripper and part-time dominatrix. She portrayed gossip columnist Louella Parsons in the Peter Bogdanovich film The Cat's Meow (2001). She gained some additional popularity in recent years for her portrayal of serial killer Tiffany Ray for three of the six Child's Play films. The character was first introduced in the fourth installment of the franchise, Bride of Chucky and subsequently appeared in Seed of Chucky and the most recent film, Curse of Chucky. In Seed of Chucky, however, she plays a dual role providing the voice for Tiffany and also playing an exaggerated version of herself.

In 2001, she starred as Crystal Allen in the Broadway revival of The Women.

She is a semi-regular cast member on Family Guy, voicing the Griffin family's neighbor, Bonnie Swanson. She has also done voice-over work for the films Monsters, Inc., Stuart Little and Home on the Range, as well as the children's series Hey Arnold!. In Disney's The Haunted Mansion, she portrays Madame Leota (a head in a crystal ball). She has been active in the theatre, winning a Theater World Award for her performance in the off-Broadway play One Shoe Off.

She had a starring role on the sitcom Out of Practice, which starred Henry Winkler and Stockard Channing. The series was cancelled in May 2006. About this time, Tilly started dividing her time between her film career and professional poker. By the end of 2008, she returned to her film and television career. In 2009, Tilly made her Chinese film debut in the Christina Yao-directed Empire of Silver playing Mrs. Landdeck.

In 2012, she returned to Broadway in Don't Dress for Dinner, garnering an Audience Choice Award nomination for her portrayal of mistress Suzanne. In 2013, she starred in the Wallace Shawn/Andre Gregory collaboration Grasses of a Thousand Colors which premiered at the Royal Court theatre in London in 2009 and then moved to the Joseph Papp theatre in 2013. She regularly appears in the comedy revue Celebrity Autobiography


Jennifer Tilly

Tilly after her win at the 2005 World Series of Poker $1,000 Ladies Only Event – No Limit Hold'em.
Nickname(s) The Unabombshell, J Tilla the Killa
Residence Los Angeles, California
World Series of Poker
Bracelet(s) 1
Money finish(es) 13
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
World Poker Tour
Title(s) None
Final table(s) None
Money finish(es) 11

On June 27, 2005, Tilly won a World Series of Poker bracelet (and $158,625) in the Ladies' No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em event, beating 600 other players.[13] She followed up this accomplishment on September 1, 2005, by winning the third World Poker Tour Ladies Invitational Tournament held at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. Tilly has appeared in the GSN Poker Royale series.[14] Tilly played in the Celebrity Poker Showdown which aired June 14, 2006, on Bravo. She was knocked out in third place by Bravo's online poker champion Ida Siconolfi.

When playing poker on television, Tilly often wears low-cut tops with push-up bras that expose lots of cleavage to "look cute", but is quick to add that "if people are really playing poker, they don't care. Nothing looks better to them than a pair of aces. They're not looking at your pair. They're looking at their pair."[15] Tilly appears in the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions 2007 Edition video game (along with boyfriend, Phil Laak) that was released in 2007 by Activision.[16]

In a television interview in 2005, Tilly stated that at that point in her career she was more interested in pursuing poker than acting.[17] By December 2008, Tilly announced her retirement from poker as a career. In her monthly column in Bluff Magazine, she said: "I love poker but greatness in poker is an elusive dream. There are too many variants. Trying to find validation in poker is like trying to find a virgin in a whorehouse. I'm not giving up poker entirely – gambling is an addiction after all. I'm just going to treat it more like a hobby and less like a career."[18]

In January 2010, she resumed her poker career,[19] and as of May 2016, Tilly's live tournament winnings exceeded $916,000.[20]

Personal life

Tilly was married to Sam Simon, developer and producer of The Simpsons, from 1984 until 1991.[21] She has been in a relationship with poker player Phil Laak since 2004.



Year Title Role Notes
1984 No Small Affair Mona Film debut
1985 Moving Violations Amy Hopkins
1986 Inside Out Amy
1987 He's My Girl Lisa
1988 Johnny Be Good Connie Hisler
1988 Remote Control Allegra James
1988 Rented Lips Mona Lisa
1988 High Spirits Miranda
1989 Far from Home Amy
1989 Let It Ride Vicki
1989 The Fabulous Baker Boys Blanche "Monica" Moran
1991 The Doors Okie Girl Uncredited
1991 Scorchers Talbot
1992 Shadow of the Wolf Igiyook
1993 Made in America Stacy
1994 Double Cross Melissa
1994 Bullets over Broadway Olive Neal Nominated for Academy Award
1994 Embrace of the Vampire Marika
1994 The Getaway Fran Carvey
1995 Bird of Prey Kily Griffith
1995 Man with a Gun Rena Rushton/Kathy Payne
1996 The Pompatus of Love Tarzaan
1996 House Arrest Cindy Figler
1996 Bound Violet
1996 American Strays Patty Mae
1997 Liar Liar Samantha Cole
1997 Edie & Pen Edie Piper
1997 Bella Mafia Moyra Luciano
1997 The Wrong Guy Lynn Holden
1998 Relax...It's Just Sex Tara Ricotto
1998 Hoods Mary Crippa
1998 Bride of Chucky Tiffany
1998 Music from Another Room Nina
1999 The Muse Herself
1999 Goosed Charlene
1999 Do Not Disturb Cathryn
1999 Bartok the Magnificent Piloff (voice) Direct-to-video
1999 Stuart Little Mrs. Camille Stout Voice
1999 Play It to the Bone Ringside Fan
2000 Cord Helen
2000 Bruno Dolores
2000 Dancing at the Blue Iguana Jo
2000 The Crew Ferris "aka Maureen" Lowenstein
2001 Dirt Hooker
2001 Fast Sofa Ginger Quail
2001 Monsters, Inc. Celia Mae Voice
2001 Ball in the House Dot
2001 The Cat's Meow Louella Parsons
2003 Hollywood North Gillian Stevens
2003 The Haunted Mansion Madame Leota
2003 Happy End Edna
2003 Jericho Mansions Donna Cherry
2004 Second Best Carole
2004 Perfect Opposites Elyse Steinberg
2004 Home on the Range Grace Voice
2004 El Padrino Sebeva
2004 Saint Ralph Nurse Alice
2004 Love on the Side Alma Kerns
2004 Seed of Chucky Tiffany/Herself
2005 Bailey's Billion$ Dolores Pennington
2005 Lil' Pimp Miss De La Croix Voice
2005 The Civilization of Maxwell Bright Dr. O'Shannon
2005 Tideland Queen Gunhilda
2006 The Poker Movie Herself
2007 Intervention
2008 Deal Karen "Razor" Jones
2008 The Caretaker Miss Perry
2008 Bart Got a Room Melinda
2008 Inconceivable Salome "Sally" Marsh
2009 An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong Mrs. Rundell
2009 Imps
2009 Made in Romania Herself
2009 Empire of Silver Mrs. Landdeck
2010 The Making of Plus One Amber
2012 30 Beats Erika
2013 The Secret Lives of Dorks Ms. Stewart
2013 Curse of Chucky Tiffany Ray Cameo, Direct-to-video
2015 Unity Narrator Documentary
2016 A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits Divine Direct-to-video


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Oh Madeline Laurie Episode: "Madeline Acts Forward at the Retreat"
1983 Boone Sonia Episode: "Words and Music"
1984 Shaping Up Shannon Winters 4 episodes
1984–1985 Hill Street Blues Gina Srignoli 6 episodes
1985 Remington Steele Blitzen/Eva Wilson Episode: "Dancer, Prancer, Donner and Steele"
1986 Cheers Candi Pearson Episode: "Second Time Around"
1989 Moonlighting Nurse Saundra Episode: "Plastic Fantastic Lovers"
1993 At Home with the Webbers Miranda Webber Television film
1993 Key West Savannah Sumner 13 episodes
1993 Heads Tina Abbot Television film
1997 Bella Mafia Moyra Luciano Television film
2000 Hey Arnold! Lola (voice) Episode: "Ernie in Love"
Family Guy Bonnie Swanson (voice)
2001 The Kid Waitress (voice) Television film
2001 Sister Mary Explains It All Philomena Rostovich Television film
2002 The Magnificent Ambersons Fanny Minafer Television film
2004 Frasier Kim Episode: "Miss Right Now"
2005–2006 Out of Practice Crystal 14 episodes
2006 The Initiation of Sarah Dr. Eugenia Hunter Television film
2009 The Cleveland Show Bonnie Swanson (voice) Pilot episode
2010 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Terpsie Pratt Episode: "Take My Life, Please!"
2011 Drop Dead Diva Ginny Episode: "Dream Big"
2011 Modern Family Darlene Episodes: 2 episodes
2012 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself – Guest Judge Episode "Frenemies"
2012 The Simpsons Herself (voice) Episode: "Gone Abie Gone"
2013–2014 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja The Sorceress (voice) 2 episodes
2015 Orphan Black Scorpion (voice) uncredited 1 episode

Awards and nominations

Acting awards

Poker awards


  1. Jennifer Tilly on Howard Stern (28/10/2004) on YouTube
  2. "Jennifer Tilly @Jtillathekilla2". Twitter. 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  3. Some sources indicate 1961, but Tilly's listing on the California Birth Index 1905–1995 (as Jennifer E. Chan) gives her birth date as September 16, 1958.
  4. Jennifer Tilly biography at Archived January 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. "Meg Tilly is Asian Irish" March 2011, Asiance magazine
  6. "Jennifer Tilly – Poker Pro Bio, Pictures and Poker Videos". Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  7. "Jennifer Tilly: Little voice, big talent". The Independent. London. November 19, 2004.
  8. "Official Meg Tilly Website". Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  9. Meg Tilly is Asian Irish Mar 2011, asiance magazine
  10. "Jennifer Tilly Biography - Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  11. "Jennifer Tilly". Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  12. Video on YouTube
  13. "Jennifer Tilly wins poker tournament". Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  14. "GSN's Celebrity Poker Tournaments on TV: "Poker Royale" June 14, 2005, Poker
  17. "Jennifer Tilly's Pro-Am Poker Equalizer Player Profile". Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  18. "Jennifer Tilly final monthly column in Bluff Magazine". Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  19. "Jennifer Tilly resumes monthly column in Bluff Magazine". Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  21. "Meet Sam Simon, The Dog Nut". July 16, 2007, CBS News
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