Shannen Maria Doherty (/ˈdoʊ.ərti/; born April 12, 1971) is an American actress, producer, author, and television director. She is known for her roles as Brenda Walsh in Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–94), and as Prue Halliwell in Charmed (1998–2001).
Doherty was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Rosa, a beauty parlor owner, and Tom Doherty, a mortgage consultant. Doherty has Irish Catholic ancestry on her father’s side and English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish ancestry on her mother’s side. She was raised in her mother’s Southern Baptist denomination.
Doherty had guest spots on TV series including Voyagers! and Father Murphy. When a casting notice was released in Hollywood for a regular role on the popular Little House on the Prairie, she jumped at the opportunity and eventually won the role of Jenny Wilder at the age of 11, thanks in part to actor/producer Michael Landon’s seeing her guest spot on Father Murphy, which he also produced. Doherty stayed in the series until the show’s cancellation in 1983.
In 1982, Doherty lent her voice to the animated film The Secret of NIMH. In 1985, Doherty starred as Maggie Malene in the teen movie comedy Girls Just Want to Have Fun alongside actresses Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Doherty was cast as the oldest Witherspoon sibling, Kris, on the family drama Our House, which ran from 1986 to 1988, a role which garnered her several Young Artist Award nominations. She then went on to appear in an episode of Magnum, P.I. (“A Sense of Debt”), followed by an early episode of Airwolf for which she was nominated as Best Young Actress: Guest in a Series at the 6th Youth in Film Awards in 1984. Doherty’s first major motion picture role was in Heathers, released in 1989.
In January 1993, California’s United Bank took Doherty to court for $36,000 claiming she had bounced more than 70 checks. On October 11, 1993, Shannen Doherty was married to Ashley Hamilton, son of actor George Hamilton; they divorced in April 1994. In 2001, Doherty was sentenced to either 10 days in jail or 20 days of work-release duty and three years’ probation and was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine for drunk driving. In 2002, Doherty married Rick Salomon, but the marriage was annulled after nine months. On October 15, 2011, Doherty married Kurt Iswarienko in Malibu.
Doherty has appeared several times nude in Playboy magazine. Her first appearance was in December 1993 followed by a spread in March 1994. She posed for the magazine again in December 2003 and has been featured in a 10-page pictorial.
Doherty is a registered Republican. According to Complex Magazine, she said: “I realize that the majority of people in the entertainment business happen to be Democrats. I have no problem with that. And they should have no problem with the fact that I’m a Republican.”
Doherty announced in 1999 that she suffers from Crohn’s disease. An avid animal rights activist, Doherty is a supporter of the Sea Shepherds, and while performing the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 she challenged founder Paul Watson and global supporters of Sea Shepherds.
Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015.