Kaley Cuoco

Kaley Cuoco Biography

(1985–)
Actress Kaley Cuoco is best known for playing Penny on the popular sitcom 'The Big Bang Theory.'

Who Is Kaley Cuoco?

Born in California in 1985, actress Kaley Cuoco had her first taste of TV success with the family sitcom 8 Simple Rules in 2002. Five years later, she launched the next phase of her career with The Big Bang Theory, which became one of television's most beloved comedies. Cuoco has also appeared in such films as Hop (2011) and The Wedding Ringer (2015).

Kaley Cuoco photo via Getty Images

Kaley Cuoco at the 2016 People's Choice Awards. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Getty Images)

Early Life and Career

Kaley Christine Cuoco was born on November 30, 1985, in Camarillo, California, to parents Layne Ann Wingate and Gary Carmine Cuoco. She has a younger sister, Briana. 

Cuoco started working at a young age. She took up modeling as a child, and her first acting gigs were in commercials. Before long, Cuoco graduated to television work. She landed guest spots on such series as Northern Exposure, 7th Heaven and My So-Called Life, and made an appearance in the film Picture Perfect. Because of her career, Cuoco was homeschooled. She told People magazine that "I've never been to a regular high school."

'8 Simple Rules,' 'Charmed'

Cuoco scored her first major role when she was still a teen. She starred with John Ritter and Katey Sagal in the family sitcom 8 Simple Rules, which debuted in 2002. Cuoco played one of Ritter and Sagal's teenage daughters, while Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers were her siblings on the show. The series managed to go on after the sudden death of Ritter in 2003, addressing the loss of his character in its second season. Around the time 8 Simple Rules ended in 2005, Cuoco moved to another popular TV show. She joined the cast of the supernatural series Charmed for its eighth season as Billie Jenkins.

'The Big Bang Theory'

In 2007 Cuoco debuted in her role as Penny on The Big Bang Theory. The sitcom focused on geeky roommates Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), and their fellow genius friends Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar). Cuoco played Sheldon and Leonard's friendly, non-intellectual neighbor who becomes Leonard's love interest. The chemistry between Cuoco and Galecki was so strong that the pair were a real-life couple for a time. With its collection of offbeat characters and its sharp writing, the show soon won over legions of viewers.

Initially, Cuoco was the only female among her co-stars. Later Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik joined the cast. In 2014 Cuoco, along with Parsons and Galecki, negotiated an impressive salary increase. The trio signed one of TV's biggest deals to earn each of them $1 million per episode. Cuoco told Redbook magazine that "it's so comforting to know that I'll be able to take care of my family and parents, because without them, none of this would have happened."

Cuoco appeared as Penny for the final time on May 16, 2019, when The Big Bang Theory bowed after 12 seasons and 279 episodes.

Films: 'Hop,' 'The Wedding Ringer,' 'Alvin and the Chipmunks'

Committed to her successful sitcom, Cuoco made limited film appearances during the years The Big Bang Theory was on the air. She played one of the flesh and blood characters of the live action-animated hybrid Hop (2011) and enjoyed prominent roles in the indie films Authors Anonymous (2014) and Burning Bodhi (2015). Cuoco also co-starred in the critically panned but commercially successful comedy The Wedding Ringer (2015), and provided voice work for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015) and Why Him? (2016).

Marriages and Personal Life

Cuoco married professional tennis player Ryan Sweeting on December 31, 2013, but they announced they were divorcing in September 2015. The actress subsequently began dating pro equestrian Karl Cook, and the two married on June 30, 2018, at a horse stable near San Diego, California.

Like her husband, Cuoco is an avid horse rider. She is also a former nationally ranked amateur tennis player.

A proponent of animal adoption, Cuoco in the summer of 2018 teamed with the rescue shelter Paw Works and her stylist to design a sock emblazoned with the motto "Adopt. Don't Shop," with proceeds going to community animal programs. At the time, the actress said she had adopted three dogs, two rabbits and seven professional show horses. 

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!