Danica McKellar

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Danica McKellar
At a book signing, October 2007
BornDanica Mae McKellar
(1975-01-03) January 3, 1975 (age 39)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
EducationBachelor of Science in Mathematics with honors (summa cum laude)
Alma materUCLA
OccupationActress, author, mathematics education advocate and director
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Mike Verta (2009–2012)
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Danica McKellar
At a book signing, October 2007
BornDanica Mae McKellar
(1975-01-03) January 3, 1975 (age 39)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
EducationBachelor of Science in Mathematics with honors (summa cum laude)
Alma materUCLA
OccupationActress, author, mathematics education advocate and director
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Mike Verta (2009–2012)

Danica Mae McKellar (born January 3, 1975) is an American actress, book author and education advocate. She played Winnie Cooper in the television show The Wonder Years, and later wrote four non-fiction books: Math Doesn't Suck, Kiss My Math, Hot X: Algebra Exposed and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, which encourage middle-school and high-school girls to have confidence and succeed in mathematics.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in La Jolla, California, McKellar moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was eight. Her mother Mahalia is a homemaker; her father Christopher is a real estate developer.[3]

Her mother's ancestry is Portuguese (via the Azores and Madeira islands); her father's ancestry is Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Dutch.

Danica and her sister Crystal McKellar both maintained professional acting careers as children, but with a strong emphasis on education as a priority.

As a result, Crystal became a corporate lawyer, while Danica majored in mathematics. Danica and Crystal also have two half-brothers, Chris Junior and Connor McKellar.[citation needed]

Acting career[edit]

The Wonder Years and early acting career [edit]

McKellar had a leading role in The Wonder Years, an American television comedy-drama that ran for six seasons on ABC, from 1988 to 1993. She played Gwendolyn "Winnie" Cooper, the main love interest of Kevin Arnold (played by Fred Savage) on the show. Her first kiss was with Fred Savage in an episode of The Wonder Years.[4]

She later said, "My first kiss was a pretty nerve-wracking experience! But we never kissed off screen, and pretty quickly our feelings turned into brother/sister, and stayed that way."[5] Late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon has said that the character of Winnie Cooper "is the coolest girl in any TV show ever." [6]

Later career[edit]

McKellar has admitted the transition from "child actor to adult actor was a little bumpy."[5] Since leaving The Wonder Years, McKellar has had several guest roles in television series (including one with former co-star Fred Savage on Working), and has written and directed two short films. She appeared in two Lifetime TV movies in the Moment of Truth series, playing Kristin Guthrie in 1994's Cradle of Conspiracy and Annie Mills Carman in 1996's Justice for Annie. She briefly returned to regular television with a recurring role in the 2002–03 season of The West Wing, portraying Elsie Snuffin, the stepsister and assistant of Deputy White House Communications Director Will Bailey.

McKellar appeared in lingerie in the July 2005 edition of Stuff magazine[dead link][7] after readers voted her the 1990s star they would most like to see in lingerie. McKellar explained that she agreed to the shoot in part to obtain "grittier roles".[5]

In 2006, McKellar starred in a Lifetime movie and web-based series titled Inspector Mom about a mother who solves mysteries.[8][9]

On the August 1, 2007, edition of the Don and Mike Show, a WJFK-FM radio program out of Washington, D.C., McKellar announced plans that the producers of How I Met Your Mother were planning to bring her back for a recurring role (she guest-starred on the show in late 2005 in "The Pineapple Incident" and again in early 2007 in "Third Wheel"). She also made an appearance on the show The Big Bang Theory, in the episode "The Psychic Vortex".[10]

In 2008, she starred in Heatstroke, a Sci-Fi Channel original movie about searching for alien life on Earth and in 2009 she was one of the stars commenting on the occurrences of the new millennium in VH1's I Love the New Millennium and was the math correspondent for Brink, a program by the Science Channel about technology. In 2013, she played Ellen Plainview in Lifetime's reimagining of the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Wrong Man.

McKellar has also found work as a voice actress. She is the voice of Miss Martian in Young Justice. She has also provided the voices for two characters in three video games: Jubilee in X-Men Legends (2004), and Invisible Woman in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006) and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009).[citation needed]

On March 4, 2014, she was announced to be joining season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. She paired with Valentin Chmerkovskiy.[11] McKellar and Chmerkovskiy were eliminated on Week 8, finishing in 6th place.


McKellar studied at UCLA and earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with honors (summa cum laude) in 1998.[12]

As an undergraduate, she coauthored a scientific paper[13] with Professor Lincoln Chayes and fellow student Brandy Winn entitled "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on \mathbb{Z}^2."[14] Their results are termed the 'Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem'.[15][16]

Referring to the mathematical abilities of his student coauthors, Chayes was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "I thought that the two were really, really first-rate."[17] McKellar's Erdős number is four and her Erdős–Bacon number is 6.[18]


McKellar has authored several mathematics-related books primarily targeting adolescent readers interested in succeeding at the study of mathematics:

Her first book, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, was a New York Times bestseller,[1] and was favorably reviewed by Tara C. Smith, the founder of Iowa Citizens for Science and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa.[19] The book also received a review from Anthony Jones, writing for the School Librarian journal, who described the book as "a trouble-shooting guide to help girls overcome their biggest maths challenges," noting what he described as "real-world examples of great mathematics in action."[20] In an interview with Smith, McKellar said that she wrote the book "to show girls that math is accessible and relevant, and even a little glamorous" and to counteract "damaging social messages telling young girls that math and science aren't for them".[21]

McKellar's second book, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss,[22] was released on August 5, 2008. The book's target audience is girls in the 7th through 9th grades. Her third book, Hot X: Algebra Exposed![23] covers algebra topics, while the previous two titles were intended as "algebra-readiness books."[24] Hot X was published on August 3, 2010. Her fourth book, Girls Get Curves – Geometry Takes Shape,[25] focuses on the subject of geometry, and attempts to make the subject more accessible.[26]

Three of McKellar's books were listed in The New York Times children's bestseller list.[27][28]

Published papers[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

McKellar was named Person of the Week on World News with Charles Gibson for the week ending August 10, 2007. The news segment highlighted her book Math Doesn't Suck and her efforts to help girls develop an interest in mathematics, especially during the middle school years.[29] In January 2014, she received the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) Communications Award. The citation credited her books, blog, and public appearances for encouraging "countless middle and high school students, especially girls, to be more interested in mathematics."[30]

Personal life[edit]

She married composer Mike Verta on March 22, 2009, in La Jolla, California; the couple had dated since 2001.[31] They had their first child, a son named Draco, in 2010,[32][33] McKellar filed for divorce from Verta in June 2012,[34] with the dissolution becoming final in February 2013.[35]

On July 16, 2014, she got engaged to her boyfriend Scott Sveslosky, a partner in the Los Angeles legal firm Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton.[36]



2001Good NeighborMolly Wright
2001XCU: Extreme Close UpSarah
2001Speechless...Dana WoodmanShort film
2002Sex and the Teenage MindDebbie
2002Black HoleRachael
2002Reality SchoolSexy SallyShort film
2002Jane White Is Sick & TwistedTiffany
2002Year That Trembled, TheThe Year That TrembledPam Hatch
2002Hip, Edgy, Sexy, CoolSissie
2004Raising GeniusLacy Baldwin
2004IntermissionSleepwalkerShort film
2004Quiet KillPet Shop Girl
200921 and a Wake-UpJenny Valentine
2010Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-DooMadelyn Dinkley (voice)Video
2010DC Showcase Original Shorts CollectionSally (voice)Video
2012Flatland 2: SpherelandAeroVideo
2013The Wrong WomanEllen PlainviewTV movie
2013Love at the Christmas TableKatherine "Kat" PattonTV movie


1985Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight ZoneNola (age 10)Episode: "Her Pilgrim Soul"
1987Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight ZoneDeidre DobbsEpisode: "Shelter Skelter"
1988–1993Wonder Years, TheThe Wonder YearsWinnie CooperMain role (98 episodes)
1989Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, TheThe Super Mario Bros. Super Show!PattyEpisode: "Day of the Orphan/King Mario of Cramalot"
1990Camp CucamongaLindsey ScottTV film
1992Captain Planet and the PlaneteersLisa (voice)Episode: "A Formula for Hate"
1994Babylon 5Aria TensusEpisode: "The War Prayer"
1994Moment of Truth: Cradle of ConspiracyKristin GuthrieTV film
1994Walker, Texas RangerLaurie MastonEpisode: "Stolen Lullaby"
1994SirensAlison TrentEpisode: "Victims"
1996Justice for Annie: A Moment of Truth MovieAnnie Mills CarmanTV film
1998Love Boat: The Next WaveMary DuttonEpisode: "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
1998WorkingJolieEpisode: "As Bad As It Gets"
1999WorkingJolieEpisode: "She Loves Me Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"
1999Random PlayDaughterEpisode: "1.4"
2000–2004Static ShockFreida Goren (voice)Recurring role (14 episodes)
2001Division, TheThe DivisionWendyEpisode: "Don't Ask"
2001Even StevensSandrineEpisode: "Sibling Rivalry"
2002Justice LeagueSapphire Stagg (voice)Episodes: "Metamorphosis: Parts 1 & 2"
2002–2003West Wing, TheThe West WingElsie Snuffin(8 episodes)
2004King of the HillSharona / Misty (voice)Episodes: "My Hair Lady", "Cheer Factor"
2004Game OverElsa / ReneeTV series
2004Century CitySallyEpisode: "Without a Tracer"
2004EveClaudiaEpisode: "Friend or Foe?"
2005NCISErin KendallEpisode: "Witness"
2005Jack & BobbyKeirstenEpisode: "And Justice for All"
2005NYPD BlueRosemaryEpisode: "Moving Day"
2005Strong MedicineNatalie PascalEpisode: "Feeling No Pain"
2005Path of DestructionKatherine SternTV film
2005How I Met Your MotherTrudyEpisode: "The Pineapple Incident"
2006Inspector MomMaddie MonroeTV film
2006CyberchaseWanda (voice)Episode: "Designing Mr. Perfect"
2006–2007Inspector MomMaddie MonroeRegular role (10 episodes)
2007Random! CartoonsKaterina 'Kat' Metropoulos (voice)Episode: "Girls on the Go!"
2007How I Met Your MotherTrudyEpisode: "Third Wheel"
2010Big Bang Theory, TheThe Big Bang TheoryAbbyEpisode: "The Psychic Vortex"
2010Generator RexClaire (voice)Epiosdes: "Hermanos", "Operation: Wingman"
2010–2013Young JusticeM'gann M'orzz/Miss Martian, Tuppence Terror, Marie Logan, Batgirl (voice)Regular role (40 episodes)
2011Generator RexClaire (voice)Episode: "Haunted"
2011G.I. Joe: RenegadesSister Leia / Woman (voice)Episode: "Brothers of Light"
2012Nerdist: Tribute to Science, TheThe Nerdist: Tribute to ScienceTV film
2012Love at the Christmas TableKatTV film
2013Tasmanian DevilsAlexTV film
2013Secret Life of the American Teenager, TheThe Secret Life of the American TeenagerHerselfEpisode: "Interference"
2013Nerdist: Course of the ForceBounty HunterEpisode: "Michael Rooker & CM Punk: Lighstaber Hunt"
2014Dancing with the StarsHerselfContestant on season 18

Video games[edit]

2004X-Men LegendsJubilee
2004EverQuest IILolla Cotgrove / Pona
2006Onimusha: Dawn of DreamsAdditional Voices
2006Marvel: Ultimate AllianceInvisible Woman
2009Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2Invisible Woman
2013Young Justice: LegacyM'gann M'orzz / Miss Martian, Barbara Gordon / Batgirl

Music videos[edit]

On August 20, 2013, Canadian singer Avril Lavigne released her music video for new single "Rock N Roll" from her upcoming self-titled fifth album, which features McKellar as 'Winnie Cooperre'.[37]


  1. ^ a b "Children's Books". The New York Times. September 28, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Math Books". Danicamckellar.com. Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Danica McKellar Biography (1975–)". Film Reference. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  4. ^ "Danica McKellar". Maxim. February 1, 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Where are they now? – Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years[dead link]
  6. ^ "Jimmy Fallon Explains the Meaning Behind Baby Name Winnie (Hint: It’s Not About a Pooh)". Retrieved August 13, 2013.  Yahoo OMG! article published online August 13, 2013. Quote: "'Nancy, my wife, and I got engaged in New Hampshire at this lake house that her family's had forever. It's on Lake Winnipesaukee.' . . . It didn’t hurt that one of the most famous Winnies in pop culture ― Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years ― 'is the coolest girl in any TV show ever,' added the new dad."
  7. ^ "Danica McKellar pictures and bio". Stuff.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Winnie Cooper Goes Digital:McKellar to star in movies, webisodes for Lifetime". Zap2it. 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  9. ^ Cherkezian, Megan (November 17, 2006). "Wonder Years' Danica McKellar Fights Crime as Inspector Mom". TV Guide.
  10. ^ "The Psychic Vortex" episode, air date 2010-11-01
  11. ^ "Dancing With the Stars Cast Revealed! Cody Simpson, Nene Leakes and James Maslow Are Among the Names—See the Full List!". E! Online. 
  12. ^ Frazier, Kendrick (2008). "Mickelson, McKellar tout science, math, and being smart". Skeptical Inquirer 32 (6): 12. 
  13. ^ Chayes, L; McKellar, D; Winn, B (1998). "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on \mathbb{Z}^2". Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General 31 (45): 9055–9063. Bibcode:1998JPhA...31.9055C. doi:10.1088/0305-4470/31/45/005. 
  14. ^ Chayes, L.; D. McKellar; B. Winn (1998-11-13). "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on z2". Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General 31 (45): 9055. Bibcode:1998JPhA...31.9055C. doi:10.1088/0305-4470/31/45/005. ISSN 0305-4470. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  15. ^ "USNews.com: America's Best Colleges 2006: College Flashback: Danica McKellar". U.S.News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  16. ^ Blog post by mathematician Terence Tao, a former instructor of McKellar's, complimenting her book and explaining the theorem.
  17. ^ Kenneth Chang, "Between Series, an Actress Became a Superstar (in Math)", The New York Times, July 19, 2005.
  18. ^ "There's not much separating her from Bacon, Erdős", USA Today, August 14, 2007
  19. ^ Smith, Tara (2007-07-24). "Aetiology:Danica McKellar's "Math Doesn't Suck"". Aetiology. ScienceBlogs. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  20. ^ Jones, Anthony Hamilton (2011). "McKellar, Danica: Maths Doesn't Suck". School Librarian 59 (1): 62. ISSN 0036-6595. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  21. ^ Smith, Tara (2007-07-25). "Interview with math whiz, author, and actress Danica McKellar". Aetiology. ScienceBlogs. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  22. ^ Danica McKellar (2008). Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-049-1. 
  23. ^ Danica McKellar (2010). Hot X: Algebra Exposed. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-070-5. 
  24. ^ "Actress Danica McKellar Solves For 'X' : NPR". National Public Radio. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  25. ^ Danica McKellar (2012). Girls Get Curves – Geometry Takes Shape. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-094-1. 
  26. ^ Lichtman, Flora (17 August 2012). Actress Danica McKellar Helps "Girls Get Curves". Science Friday. (Interview) (National Public Radio). Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  27. ^ "Children's Chapter Books". The New York Times. August 22, 2010. Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Best Sellers: Children's Books". The New York Times. September 28, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  29. ^ "ABC News: Person of the Week: Danica McKellar". Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  30. ^ American Mathematical Society, January 2014 Prizes And Awards, p. 35,
  31. ^ Danica McKellar is Married! People, March 22, 2009
  32. ^ Danica McKellar is Pregnant! People, March 17, 2010
  33. ^ "Danica McKellar Files for Divorce". People. 2012-06-06. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  34. ^ "‘Wonder Years’ actress Danica McKellar files for divorce". suntimes.com. 2012-06-12. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  35. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2283381/The-Wonder-Years-star-Danica-Mckellar-finalises-divorce-husband-years-Mike-Verta.html
  36. ^ "Danica McKellar Engaged to Scott Sveslosky". People. 2014-07-16. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  37. ^ http://965tic.cbslocal.com/2013/08/28/avril-lavigne-talks-rock-n-roll-music-video-kissing-winnie-cooper/

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]