Sometimes, it can be hard to believe that Kaley Cuoco is just 32 years old because it seems like she's been on television forever! She's had a few movie roles over the years, but television is where she really shines—and she's had continuous roles on television shows before she was even old enough to vote.
Thanks to her sunny disposition and blonde hair, she often gets cast in particular kinds of roles, but who knows—perhaps once The Big Bang Theory finally wraps, she'll pursue different types of characters to truly stretch her skills as an actress.
Nowadays, Kaley Cuoco is television royalty, the kind of actress who makes six figures per episode and has a solid track record that she can take to whatever project she works on next.
Once upon a time, though, she was just a young California girl who dreamt of making it to Hollywood and becoming a star. And it's no secret that she wouldn't have been able to kick off her acting profession as early as she did without having her parents' support.
So, in true tribute to the characters who appear alongside her character Penny on The Big Bang Theory, we're taking you through Kaley Cuoco's origin story—here are 25 things you may not have known about her.
25 She Was Born In Camarillo, California
There are plenty of actresses who move to California with stars in their eyes from some small town in the midwest—but Cuoco wasn't one of them.
She actually grew up in sunny California and was born in Camarillo, a small town in Ventura County.
So, it wasn't quite as tough to convince her parents to allow her to go on auditions in Los Angeles as it would ave been for a teen in Nebraska to convince her parents to let her go to Los Angeles for auditions. She obviously had to work hard to get to where she is today, but her location definitely didn't hurt!
24 She Was Home Schooled And Earned Her High School Diploma At 16
When she reached her teenage years, Kaley had to make the decision that many young actresses have to make—whether or not to drop out of regular school and just be home schooled in order to make more time for auditions and acting. So, that's exactly what she did—she was home schooled on the set of whatever project she was working on and ended up earning her high school diploma when she was just 16 years old. Then, it was full steam ahead to Hollywood.
23 Before Focusing Fully On Acting, She Was A Nationally Ranked Amateur Tennis Player
While she hasn't really had a major role playing a serious athlete, we could totally envision Kaley playing a tennis player on screen at one point—and she wouldn't have to train quite as hard as other actresses, because she's already an amazing tennis player!
In fact, Cuoco was a nationally ranked amateur tennis player during her teenage years.
That is, until she decided to put tennis on hold while she pursued her acting. She still seems to play for fun, and enjoy it.
22 She's Still Super Close With Former 8 Simple Rules Co-Star Amy Davidson
When you're on a television show with someone for season after season, you spend a lot of time with them. You really get to know them, and while some television cast members part ways once the show wraps and don't really stay in touch, many end up becoming quite close and remaining friends for years afterward. That's what happened with Kaley Cuoco and her 8 Simple Rules co-star Amy Davidson. The two played sisters on the show and are still close in real life, celebrating major milestones together on a regular basis.
21 She Appeared In Six Barbie Commercials As A Child
With her blonde hair and bubbly personality, this may come as no surprise, but Kaley actually managed to snag not one, not two, but six commercials for Barbie products when she was a child.
I mean, can you imagine a better fit to sell Barbie?
While she probably doesn't want to be typecast as a bubbly blonde, we have to admit, we'd kind of love to see her playing a doll on screen, a la Tyra Banks in Life Size. I mean, can you imagine?
20 She Loves To Play The Drums
Fans of 8 Simple Rules might remember the episode where Cuoco's character Bridget learns the drums—and crushes on her handsome drum teacher. However, did you know that Cuoco actually loves playing the drums in real life? We're not sure if it's that storyline that set off her love for percussion or if it's something she's always enjoyed, but she's admitted that smashing the drums is therapeutic for her. Hey, we can totally see that—who doesn't love to tap out a great rhythm?
19 She Has A Girl Crush On Jennifer Aniston
Celebrities are humans too, which means that even A-List stars are fans of other celebrities. Sure, some of them become regular friends, but some still maintain icon status, even when they're kind of on a level playing field.
Jennifer Aniston is like that for Kaley Cuoco.
The actress grew up watching Jen on screen and has a total girl crush on her. I mean, if you're looking to polish your sitcom chops, there's no one better to admire than someone who has a decade of experience under her belt!
18 She Shows Horses Under An Alias
Anyone who follows Cuoco on social media knows that she absolutely loves horses—and she often posts shots of herself hanging out with her four-legged friends. However, did you know that she actually shows horses? Although, because of her star status, she does use an alias; as she admitted to ET, "bringing paparazzi to horse shows is not a great idea, it spooks the horses, so I've actually started showing under a secret name." We love that she has a passion she's going after besides acting.
17 Her Last Name Means "Cook" In Italian
Kaley Cuoco doesn't seem like the kind of celebrity who is super in touch with her Italian roots, but her father is actually Italian, so she has some of that heritage.
In fact, her name translates to "cook" in Italian.
We're not sure how much Cuoco loves to hang out in the kitchen, but perhaps one day her Italian heritage will emerge and she'll start brushing up her kitchen skills. For now, it seems her downtime is spent horseback riding.
16 She Made Her Television Acting Debut At Just Seven
Kaley Cuoco is a total pro when it comes to being on the set of a television show at this point, and that may be because she made her television debut when she was just seven years old! While it would be a while until she got a regular gig, at seven she got a role in the television movie Quicksand: No Escape. Most people don't consider Cuoco a child star because she really only became a household name when she was older, but she was working hard from a very young age!
15 She's Involved In Several Charities
Celebrities are fortunate to get generous paychecks for their projects, so we absolutely love when they use their privilege to give back a little bit and support different causes they believe in.
Cuoco is definitely philanthropic and has been involved in several charities she's passionate about including Friends of Animals, the Humane Society, Animal Avengers, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
She's a total advocate for animals and we love how passionate she is about the causes she supports.
14 Many People Thought She Was In A Fake Relationship With Henry Cavill
Kaley has had a few high-profile public relationships at this point, but none caused quite the hysteria that her brief romance with Henry Cavill did. He was a huge superstar at the time and people were going absolutely nuts over pictures of them out and about together. The romance only lasted about two weeks, and while it could have just been that they didn't vibe with one another, many people speculated that their romance was just a fake arrangement put together by their publicists.
13 She Doesn't Consider Herself A Feminist
Cuoco caused quite the stir a while back when she let it slip in an interview that she doesn't consider herself a feminist.
As she said in her Redbook interview, "things are different now and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around."
She continued, "I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that's because I've never really faced inequality." Many women were understandably upset by her approach—it just goes to show how tricky being a celebrity can be!
12 She Dislikes The Sound Of Her Own Voice
Cuoco has a very expressive voice, and in addition to all her acting roles, she's done quite a bit of voiceover work. However, while many fans love her voice, Cuoco herself isn't the biggest fan. As she said to The Hollywood Reporter, "I hate the sound of my own voice. I can hear it from a mile away — it's nasally." It just goes to show that even successful actresses can have insecurities—most fans probably consider her voice one of the most distinctive things about her!
11 She's Open About Having Several Cosmetic Procedures
Hollywood can be a tough place—it's an incredibly image-conscious world, and many actresses are constantly made to feel like they just don't measure up.
Back when she was an 18-year-old starlet on the rise, Cuoco made a decision to get a cosmetic procedure and she says it's one of the best decisions she's ever made.
As she told Fame10, "I don't think you should do it for a man or anyone else, but if it makes you feel confident, that's amazing." We totally agree!
10 She Wasn't The First Choice For The Role Of Penny—Amanda Walsh Was
We can't really imagine anyone else playing everyone's favorite bubbly girl next door other than Kaley Cuoco, but did you know that she wasn't the first choice for the character—it was actually the Canadian actress Amanda Walsh who got the role at first. In fact, Walsh even filmed the original pilot. However, the producers ended up going in a different direction and replacing Walsh with Cuoco along the way. Though she had several roles before, the show definitely catapulted Cuoco to the A-List.
9 She Almost Had To Get Her Foot Amputated Because Of A Horseback Riding Accident
Cuoco is a well-documented horse lover, but even experienced riders can get into tricky situations at times. That's exactly what happened to her in 2010—she was riding, as she's done many times before, and somehow her horse got spooked during the ride.
She fell off while the horse was freaking out and when the horse tried to jump over Cuoco, it ended up landing on her leg.
The foot was so broken that the doctors actually thought they might have to amputate it at first—luckily, it managed to heal!
8 She And Co-Star Johnny Galecki Dated For Two Years (& No One Knew)
Both Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki have been in the industry since they were teenagers, so they both knew the benefits of keeping your personal life private. That's likely why they decided to keep their relationship a secret when they started dating—and they actually dated for about two years before splitting. It could have ended in a rough working situation, but luckily, they remain friends and have no trouble working together on set week after week. Talk about mature adults!
7 She Was Bullied At A Friend's High School Prom
Kaley Cuoco has been friends with actress and singer Ashley Tisdale for years now—they were close back when they were both in high school and trying to make it in Hollywood.
Tisdale even invited Cuoco to be her date to her high school prom so they could have a fun girls' night out.
However, things didn't exactly go according to plan—there were several girls at the prom who were jealous of Cuoco and bullied her throughout the evening. Ouch! Talk about mean girls.
6 She Believes In Empowering Women To Be Financially Independent
Cuoco is no stranger to speaking her mind in interviews, and a comment she made about her new husband caused quite the controversy—in Women's Health, she commented that "I don't need Karl for anything. If Karl left me tomorrow, I'd be fine." Many took it as a slam against her husband, but in context, she was just trying to encourage women to value themselves and value their own finances so that they weren't dependent on a man at any point.
5 She's On Her Second Marriage
Love and relationships aren't easy, and Cuoco knows that better than anyone. She's had a few relationships over the years, and even a failed engagement, and is now on her second marriage. It seems like quite a lot for someone who's just 32 years old, but it just goes to show that you never know when you're going to meet your Mr. Right.
Her first husband wasn't the right fit, but she seems totally head over heels in love with current hubby equestrian Karl Cook.
I mean, they can go horseback riding together—talk about a perfect match!
4 She Won The Teen Choice Award For Breakout Actress Back In 2003
Many people assume that Cuoco didn't really have a major role until she snagged the role of Penny on The Big Bang Theory, but that's not true at all. Back in her teenage years, she appeared as the oldest daughter on 8 Simple Rules—and she even won the Teen Choice Award for Breakout Actress in 2003! The teens saw something special in the young actress, and in the years since, she's definitely proven them right! We love Penny, but we have to admit, we'll always have a soft spot for Bridget Hennessy.
3 She's An Animal Lover And Vegetarian
Cuoco is a huge animal lover—she has a ton of animals herself, her hobby is horseback riding, and she supports countless animal-centric charities.
So, it may not come as a surprise that she's opted to not consume meat and has been a vegetarian for years now.
She hasn't quite gone fully vegan like many other celebrities, but we wouldn't be surprised if she took that step at some point in the next few years. She seems truly passionate about animals and protecting them at all costs.
2 She's Always Been Utterly Unapologetic In Love
Though some of her relationships haven't quite turned out the way she thought they would, Cuoco has no regrets—and she's always been totally unapologetic when it comes to love. In a Playboy interview back in 2011, she commented that "from what I've been told and what I've observed, men seem to be intimidated by me. So I have to take the reins. I'm... the boldest person ever - so I'll go up to anybody and say, 'you're absolutely friggin' adorable. Let's go out... what's the worst that can happen if I ask them?" We love her style!
1 She Loves To Plan Elaborate Parties For Friends
Cuoco places a high priority on all her friendships, and no matter how busy her schedule is, she makes time for her friends.
And that often includes planning elaborate parties, including the baby showers she helped plan for besties Ashley Jones and Amy Davidson.
I mean, who doesn't love celebrating their friends with an amazing party? She usually keeps her bashes pretty private but will often share a picture or two from the event with her fans to give them a little peek.
Sources: CBS, Women's Health Mag, MSN, IMDB