Jenna Elfman

Jennifer Mary "Jenna" Elfman (née Butala; born September 30, 1971) is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her leading role as Dharma on the ABC sitcom Dharma & Greg (1997–2002), for which she received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 1999, as well as three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. After making her film debut in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), she has appeared in Krippendorf's Tribe (1998), Dr. Dolittle (1998), EDtv (1999), Keeping the Faith (2000), Town & Country (2001), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Clifford's Really Big Movie (2004), and Big Stone Gap (2014).

Jenna Elfman
Jenna Elfman San Diego Comic Con 2019.jpg
Jennifer Mary Butala

(1971-09-30) September 30, 1971 (age 49)
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1990–present
(m. 1995)

Elfman has also appeared in leading roles on numerous other television comedies, including Courting Alex (2006), Accidentally on Purpose (2009–2010), 1600 Penn (2012–2013), Growing Up Fisher (2014), and Imaginary Mary (2017)—all of which were cancelled after a single season. She also had a recurring role on the FX legal drama Damages in 2012, and since 2018 has been a series regular on the AMC horror drama Fear the Walking Dead.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Elfman was born Jennifer Mary Butala in Los Angeles, California. She was the youngest of three children born to homemaker Sue (Grace) Butala and Richard Butala, a Hughes Aircraft executive.[2] Her uncle (father's younger brother) is Tony Butala, lead singer since 1958 of the American vocal trio The Lettermen. She is of Croatian ancestry on her father's side[3] and was raised Roman Catholic.[4]

Elfman attended high school at St. Genevieve High School in the San Fernando Valley for a year before eventually graduating at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and then attended college at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).[5] She trained in ballet from age 5 but later gave it up when a tendon separated from bone.[citation needed] She studied at the Westside School of Ballet, receiving a full scholarship.


Elfman posing during a break from filming The Six Wives of Henry Lefay in New Milford, Connecticut, October 15, 2007

Elfman began her professional career as a dancer, appearing in the music videos for Depeche Mode ("Halo" in 1990), Anthrax (1993's song "Black Lodge"), Chris Isaak (1995's "Somebody's Crying") and touring with the rock band ZZ Top on their 1994 tour as a "Legs Girl". After appearing in television commercials, Elfman was cast in the short-lived 1996 American sitcom Townies on ABC. In 1997 Elfman was cast in Dharma & Greg on ABC as Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery. The show ran for five seasons until its cancellation in 2002.

In 2012, Elfman and her husband Bodhi started their podcast, Kicking and Screaming by Jenna and Bodhi Elfman.[6]

In 2013, Elfman appeared in two NBC comedy series (1600 Penn and Growing Up Fisher) which were each cancelled after a single season.[7]

In 2016, Elfman was cast in the ABC comedy series Imaginary Mary. Like 1600 Penn and Growing Up Fisher, the series was cancelled after its first season.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

In February 1991 she met actor Bodhi Pine Elfman (born Bodhi Pine Saboff) during an audition for a Sprite commercial.[9] Four years later they were married on February 18, 1995. Bodhi is of Jewish descent, and Jenna[10] was raised Catholic. When they met he was a practicing Scientologist. Jenna became a Scientologist after her husband introduced her to its teachings. As of 2018, both were active Scientologists.[11]


She is a member of the Church of Scientology.[12][13]

In 2005, she appeared at the Scientology-backed Citizens Commission on Human Rights' "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death"[14] museum grand opening and she and husband Bodhi are listed on the organization's website as members of the board of advisers from the arts, entertainment and media community.[15]

On May 24, 2006, she was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Hero Award event in participation with the Scientology-affiliated groups Youth for Human Rights International and Artists for Human Rights (AFHR), an organization formed with the purpose of bringing artists together with the common cause of raising awareness of human rights around the world.

On March 27, 2008, she and actor Charlie Sheen co-hosted the Scientology-affiliated New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project Charity Event at Geisha House in Hollywood.[16]

Fundraising activitiesEdit

Elfman participated in fundraising activities, including: donating an hour of her time for auction;[17] donating a print of her lips;[18] participating in a telethon fundraiser;[19] hosting a comedy show;[20] and asking for charity donations instead of birthday presents.[21]

Elfman participated in awareness-raising initiatives including: modeling for a fashion show;[22] reading to schoolchildren as part of the National Education Association Read Across America program; and hosting a party in her home to raise awareness for causes headed by the Environmental Working Group.

Elfman is on the Board of Directors of the Dizzy Feet Foundation.[23]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Tanya
1998 Dr. Dolittle Owl Voice
Can't Hardly Wait The Angel Uncredited
Krippendorf's Tribe Prof. Veronica Micelli
1999 EDtv Shari
Venus Venus
2000 The Tangerine Bear Lorelei Voice
CyberWorld Phig Voice
Keeping the Faith Anna Riley Nominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Comedy/Romance
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2001 Town & Country Auburn
2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action Kate Houghton
2004 Clifford's Really Big Movie Dorothy Voice
2005 Touched Angela Martin Executive producer
What's Hip, Doc? Supermodel Voice
2008 Struck Pregnant date Short film
2009 The Six Wives of Henry Lefay Ophelia
Love Hurts Darlene
2011 Friends with Benefits Annie
2014 Big Stone Gap Miss Iva Lou Wade
2016 Barry Kathy Baughman


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Murder, She Wrote Ballet Dancer in background Uncredited; Episode: "Dance Diabolique"
1994 The George Carlin Show Psychedelic girl As Jenna Butala; Episode: "George Does A Bad Thing"
1995 The Monroes Lily Episode: "Bottoms, Up"
1995 Roseanne Garland Episode: "The Getaway, Almost"
1996 Townies Shannon Canotis Main cast; 15 episodes
1996 Murder One Angela Scalese Episode: "Chapter Seventeen"
1996 Almost Perfect Becky Toll Episode: "Being Fired Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry"
1996 NYPD Blue Patty Snow Episode: "The Nutty Confessor"
1997 The Single Guy Jordan Episode: "Just Friends?"
1997–2002 Dharma & Greg Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery Main cast; 119 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1999)
TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy (1999, 2000)
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication (1999)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1998, 1999, 2000)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1998, 2000)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2000, 2001, 2002)
Nominated—TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy (2001)
2002 Obsessed Ellena Roberts Television film
2004 Two and a Half Men Frankie 2 episodes
2006 Courting Alex Alex Rose Main cast; 13 episodes
2007 Brothers & Sisters Lizzie Jones-Baker Episode: "Game Night"
2008 My Name Is Earl Kimmi Himmler Episode: "We've Got Spirit"
2009–2010 Accidentally on Purpose Billie Main cast; 18 episodes
2011 Two and a Half Men Dharma Montgomery Episode: "Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt"
2012 Shameless Jill Episode: "Fiona Interrupted"
2012 Damages Naomi Walling 7 episodes
2012–2013 1600 Penn Emily Nash Gilchrist Main cast; 13 episodes
2013 Royal Pains Lacy Episode: "Open Invitation"
2014 Growing Up Fisher Joyce Fisher Main cast; 13 episodes
2014 So You Think You Can Dance Herself Guest judge[24]
2015 The Perfect Stanleys Ellen Television film
2017 Imaginary Mary Alice Main cast; 9 episodes
2018–present Fear the Walking Dead Naomi / Laura / June Main cast; 21 episodes
2018–present Talking Dead Herself 4 episodes
2020 The Twilight Zone TBA Episode: "A Human Face"


  1. ^ "'Fear the Walking Dead' Recruits Jenna Elfman as Season 4 Regular". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  2. ^ "Jenna Elfman Biography (1971–)". Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  3. ^ Elfman, Jenna. (November 21, 2003). "Elfman happily shows her 'Looney' side", Interviewed by Angela Dawson, Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on April 23, 2010. Jenna Elfman says of her maiden name (Butala) origin, "It's Croatian. My great-grandparents are from Croatia. My dad visited Croatia and I'd love to go too someday. He met some relatives who have survived some really incredible, traumatic experiences. He was just so blown away by their stamina – their spiritual stamina – to keep going and to survive and create that life no matter what ... It's really commendable."
  4. ^ "Jenna Elfman". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 15, 2010. Elfman was raised in a Roman Catholic home.
  5. ^ Campus Facts: Notable CSUN Alumni Archived July 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Rockin' Libsyn Podcasts: Kicking and Screaming by Jenna and Bodhi Elfman". February 8, 2013.
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 7, 2012). "2ND UPDATE: '1600 Penn', 'Animal Practice', 'New Normal', 'Revolution' & 'Save Me' Picked Up To Series At NBC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  8. ^ Cruz, Gilbert. "Which Network TV Shows Have Been Canceled?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "Jenna Elfman's Winning Formula: Hard Work That's Fun". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. November 25, 1997.
  10. ^ The Associated Press (July 23, 2007). "Jenna Elfman Gives Birth to a Son in LA: Jenna Elfman and Husband Welcome First Child, a Son Named Story Elias, Her Publicist Says". ABC News. Retrieved February 25, 2008.[dead link]
  11. ^
  12. ^ Reitman, Janet (February 8, 2011). "Inside Scientology". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  13. ^ "Scientology actress Jenna Elfman fully stoked by church's new expansion push! - Scientology News - The Underground Bunker".
  14. ^ "New L.A. Museum Targets Psychiatry as an Industry of Death". CCHR International. December 17, 2005. Archived from the original on February 12, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  15. ^ "Citizens Commission on Human Rights Board of Advisors". CCHR International. April 10, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  16. ^ "Jenna hosts NY Rescue Workers Detoxification Project Charity Event". March 27, 2008. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
  17. ^ "Grammy Award-Winning Singers Alicia Keys and Patti LaBelle, Actress Jenna Elfman Top the List of Entertainers to Participate in Online Celebrity Auction". Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  18. ^ "Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Other Celebs Offer Kiss Stamps for Charity – January 28, 2007". January 28, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  19. ^ "George Clooney explains 'Hope for Haiti' celebrity phone bank". USA Today Ann Oldenburg. January 22, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  20. ^ "Jenna Elfman Interview". Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  21. ^ "Jenna Elfman Charity Biography".
  22. ^ "Red Dress fashion show draws attention to heart disease". February 8, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  23. ^ "Dizzy Feet Foundation Board Members".
  24. ^ "So You Think You Can Dance - 2014 Casting Guide with Call Dates". Retrieved June 19, 2014.

External linksEdit