Rebecca Gayheart (born August 12, 1972) is an American actress.
Gayheart was born in Hazard, Kentucky and raised in nearby Pinetop by parents of Irish, Italian, German and Cherokee Indian heritage. She is a coal miner's daughter. She moved to New York City at 15 where she completed her education at New York's Professional Children's School and the Lee Strasberg Institute and began a career acting and modeling.
Gayheart became well known from her appearances in a series of commercials for Noxzema skin cream beginning in 1991. In 1992, she joined the cast of the soap opera Loving. In 1995, she had a recurring role in the series Beverly Hills, 90210. She has also been a regular on the television series Earth 2 (1994), Wasteland (1999), and Dead Like Me (2003) and has a re-occurring role on Nip/Tuck (2004).
Gayheart has appeared in several films, most often horror films or comedies aimed at a teenage audience: Somebody Is Waiting (1996), Nothing to Lose (1997), Scream 2 (1997), Hairshirt (1998), Urban Legend (1998), Jawbreaker (1999), Puppet (1999), From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (2000), Shadow Hours (2000), Doppelganger (2001), Harvard Man (2001), and Pipe Dream (2002).
Gayheart was engaged to director Brett Ratner but the couple separated. Gayheart married actor Eric Dane on October 29, 2004.
On the afternoon of June 13, 2001, Gayheart was driving northbound on Bronson Avenue in Hollywood. Nine-year-old Jorge Cruz, Jr., on his way home from nearby Grant Elementary School, was crossing the street in the middle of the block, jaywalking far from the nearest crosswalk. A number of cars stopped for him, but when Gayheart drove up behind them, apparently not understanding why the cars were stopped in the middle of the block, she pulled into the two-way left turn lane in the middle of the street to go around the stopped traffic. Furthermore, police estimated her speed at approximately 40 miles per hour, while the speed limit in the area was 25 miles per hour. She apparently never saw Cruz crossing, and her car struck the boy, who died the next morning of the injuries he sustained in the accident.
She subsequently pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to a one year suspension of her license, three years probation, a $2800 fine, and 750 hours of community service. Her community service included public service announcements about the dangers of jaywalking and the dangers of failing to stop when other drivers have stopped.
Cruz' parents also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her. The case was settled out of court under confidential terms in 2002.
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