Mindy Sterling

Mindy Sterling

Born Mindy Lee Sterling in Paterson, NJ she was the daughter of entertainers. Her mother had a background as a dancer and her father was singer-comedian Dick Sterling, former partner of Borscht Belt funny man Shecky Greene. While growing up in Miami, FL Sterling informed her father that she wanted to become a performer, so he enrolled his 13-year-old daughter in acting classes that emphasized the works of Shakespeare. After breaking into show business via various local community and dinner theater productions, Sterling moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, preferring the warmer climate to that of the other entertainment mecca, New York. In 1973, the newly arrived actress landed a recurring role on Stu Rosen's puppet-populated children's program "Dusty's Treehouse" (syndicated, 1968-1980). Other early career work included a small part in an episode of the trucker comedy adventure series "BJ and the Bear" (NBC, 1978-1981) in 1979, and a brief appearance alongside Elliot Gould in the feel-good comedy feature "The Devil and Max Devlin" (1981). Shortly thereafter, Sterling discovered the renowned improvisational comedy troupe, the Groundlings, with whom she began a long and fruitful relationship in the mid-1980s, alongside the likes of Jon Lovitz, Kathy Griffin, and Phil Hartman.Meanwhile, Sterling continued to pick up bit parts in such projects as the horror features "House" (1986) and "Warlock" (1991). In 1992, she landed a recurring role as a writer on the first season of the acclaimed Garry Shandling comedy "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98). There were plenty of guest spots on several other series for Sterling, including a 1995 appearance on the long-running sitcom "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) as a wedding planner. Eventually, she became a teacher at the Groundlings, where she led improvisational workshops, guiding rising stars like Lisa Kudrow and "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975-) regulars like Cheri Oteri and Chris Kattan. It was at the Groundlings that Sterling first met up with Mike Myers, when the then-"SNL" cast member did some guest work with the L.A. improv troupe. Impressed with her abilities, the comedic actor-writer invited Sterling to audition for his upcoming project, the 1960s spy spoof "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" (1997). In the film, she played villainous henchwoman Frau Farbissina, the diminutive, German-accented cohort - as well as lover - of Dr. Evil (Myers). Both Farbissina and Dr. Evil were spot-on caricatures of various baddies from the James Bond franchise, making them instantly recognizable, and providing endless amounts of comedic material for the actors to work from. Sterling's scenes in the film - largely improvised - proved to be some of the film's most memorable, officially putting the hard working actress on the Hollywood map.Sterling reteamed with her "Austin Powers" co-star Seth Green - who had played Farbissina and Dr. Evil's discontented son, Scott - for the horror comedy "Idle Hands" (1999). That same year, she reprised her role as the shrill Frau in the requisite sequel "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999). It was a busy time for Sterling, who also managed a substantial role in "Drop Dead Gorgeous" (1999), Michael Patrick Jann's satirical look at small town beauty contests. In the film, which also starred Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney, she played the pageant-running sidekick of Kirstie Alley, a former teen queen-turned-unscrupulous stage mom. Barely recognizable underneath extensive prosthetics, Sterling next appeared in the Ron Howard adaptation of the Dr. Seuss holiday classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000), starring Jim Carrey as the title curmudgeon. To the surprise of no one, she rejoined Myers, Green and new addition Beyonce Knowles for the second sequel, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002). In her first try at joining the regular cast of a series, Sterling returned to television for "On the Spot" (The WB, 2003), an exceptionally short-lived sitcom that relied heavily on improvisations based on suggestions from the studio audience. More dependable was her recurring role as Ms. Biggs, beginning with the first season of the hugely popular preteen comedy "iCarly" (Nickelodeon, 2007-12). Voice work on animated film and television projects also became a staple for Sterling, including her audio characterization of Ms. Endive for dozens of episodes on the bizarre food-themed cartoon "Chowder" (Cartoon Network, 2007-09). She also played Arlene Scott, Christian Slater's secretary, on the short-lived action adventure series "My Own Worst Enemy" (NBC, 2008), and landed another recurring role as nasty neighbor Mitzi Kinsky on the hit primetime soap "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-12). Sterling also contributed voice work to the animated sci-fi comedy "Mars Needs Moms" (2011), a rare box-office blunder for Walt Disney Pictures.