VetFamily: Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston has fame, success, and a special lineage. Best known for her million dollar episodes with the 1990s sitcom hit "Friends," her acting background runs deep with her parents, while her Dad and godfather both served our country.

The daughter of soap opera star John Aniston and actress Nancy Dow, Jennifer began appearing in stage productions in the late 1980s. She attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts – the school profiled by the hit TV series "Fame" -- where she was active in drama. After several minor film and television roles, Aniston hit Hollywood gold playing Rachel Green on the hit NBC sitcom Friends. She stayed with Friends for ten years, banking $1 million per episode for the last three seasons, until the show ended in 2004. She won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award during her tenure on the show.

In high school, Aniston was a member of the drama club, which sparked her decision to pursue a career as an actress. In addition to acting, Aniston has always been passionate about painting; one of her creations was even displayed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art when she was 11. She bypassed college, against her father’s wishes, to pursue the bright lights of Hollywood.

Jennifer Aniston"It’s not the kind of business anybody would wish on their child," her father, John Aniston, told People Magazine in 1997. "It’s fine if it goes the way it has gone for her, but if not, it can be devastating."

Aniston’s father, a Greek immigrant who owned a diner, served in the US Navy as an intelligence officer on active duty in Panama and later in the reserves attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He then became a star of Broadway, Off-Broadway, some feature films, and more recently in afternoon dramas such as Days of our Lives. Her godfather was the late Telly Savalas, himself a World War II Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and best friends with her dad.

Although a lot of her recent notoriety has come at the expense of her relationship setbacks—which includes Brad Pitt and Vince Vaughn--Aniston remains very open about herself being the child of divorce, as she finds personal growth from her past. She has devoted a lot of time to reconciling her relationships with both mother and father. "How did he know that was going to be disruptive to me?” She told TV Guide in 1997. “The biggest gift he gave me was to say, ’I’m sorry I wasn’t there.’ …Now he’s a great dad."

“They didn’t have the advantages that we have with therapy, with self-help books," quotes a more recent San Francisco Chronicle article.

Before “Friends,” Aniston’s TV Career was not especially noteworthy. Her earlier projects, for instance, included the unsuccessful TV spin-off of the hit 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Aniston has also nurtured a big-screen career, often alternating between small, independent films like Office Space and 2002’s The Good Girl and big-budget productions like the Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty. Recent films include 2004’s Along Came Polly opposite Ben Stiller, Derailed and Rumor Has It. In 2006, she continued her mix of filmmaking styles with the ensemble production Friends with Money, which opened at Cannes, and the blockbuster romantic comedy The Break-Up.

Her father, meanwhile, is most familiar to fans of daytime TV, since he has appeared continually since 1975. He joined the cast of Days of Our Lives during the summer of 1985 as the nefarious "Victor Kiriakis." He received double honors as Outstanding Leading Actor and as Outstanding Villain at "The Third Annual Soap Opera Awards" in 1986. His other daytime credits include Search for Tomorrow and Love of Life.

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