Carnie Wilson

Carnie Wilson

Born in Bel Air, CA, Wilson's relationship with her famous father was a difficult one. Brian Wilson's mental stability had begun to crumble years before the birth of his children, and by the time Carnie and sister Wendy arrived, he was sliding headlong into the perils of drug addiction, alcoholism, and schizophrenia. Brian Wilson separated from his daughters' mother, singer Diane Rovell, in 1979, and Carnie and Wendy's relationship with their father remained strained until 2004, when his improved health allowed him to reconcile with his children.Despite their rocky home life, Carnie Wilson did pick up one vital lesson from her father: a love for singing. She frequently appeared in high school musicals and, while in school, signed with a talent agent to pursue acting roles. In 1986, she partnered with her sister Wendy, Chyna Phillips, and Owen Elliot, the daughter of Mama Cass Elliott (The Mamas and the Papas), with the intention of recording a benefit song with other offspring of '60s music talent - a project that never came to fruition. But Phillips' mother Michelle and the Wilson's mother heard promise in the trio's high, pure harmonies, encouraging them to try their hand at a professional music career. They joined forces with songwriter Glen Ballard (best known for his collaborations with Alanis Morrissette) to create original songs, and in 1990, released their debut album, Wilson Phillips. The record was a colossal hit that yielded three hit songs (including the #1 single "Hold On") and sold 10 million copies. The self-titled album also netted four Grammy nominations for the group, as well as a Billboard Music Award for "Hot 100 Single of the Year" ("Hold On"). With the overnight popularity of Wilson Phillips, also came comments from fans and the media about Carnie Wilson's image and how it was presented in the group's videos. Wilson, who was considerably larger than her sister and Phillips, seemed to be placed in the background of shots or photographed behind objects that concealed her size. Though Wilson denied this, it also lead to unpleasant comments from comedians and pundits, most notably Howard Stern and Chris Farley, the latter of whom portrayed her in a most unflattering light on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975-). Wilson Phillips' second CD, Shadows and Light (1992), debuted at #4 on the charts, but sold considerably fewer copies than its predecessor and yielded no Top Ten Singles. Shortly thereafter, the lifelong friends decided to bring their group to an end. Chynna Phillips released a solo CD in 1995, while the Wilson sisters put out a Christmas album (Hey Santa!) in 1993. They also joined their father Brian for a well-regarded but low-selling CD, The Wilsons, in 1997, and toured with former Beach Boys member Al Jardine.From 1995-96, Wilson hosted a syndicated daytime talk show, "Carnie!" which fell victim to the glut of daytime "issue" shows that filled the afternoon airwaves. She also appeared briefly in the miniseries "The '60s" (1999). But her broadest exposure came in 1999 when she opted to lose weight via gastric bypass surgery. The procedure, which was broadcast on the internet and viewed by a large audience, resulted in her losing 150 pounds and dropping from a size 28 to a size 6. Wilson appeared on numerous talk shows to discuss the experience, and also appeared in an infomercial that promoted the surgery for those suffering from morbid obesity.The newly slim Wilson returned to the public eye with vigor. In addition to the talk show circuit, she contributed guest appearances on several television shows, including "That '70s Show" (Fox, 1998-2006), wrote the first of three books about food and weight loss (Gut Feeling: From Fear and Despair to Health and Hope) in 2001, and posed in Playboy magazine to show off her figure. In 2004, she reunited with her sister and Phillips to release California, a collection of covers of pop songs from the '60s and '70s. The album reached #35 on the charts, and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" reached #13 on the charts.In 2005, Wilson wrote her third book, To Serve with Love. With her husband, musician Rob Bonfiglio, she also gave birth to a daughter, Lola. Once again, Wilson found it difficult to shed the pounds she gained during her pregnancy, so she signed on for "Celebrity Fit Club" in 2006 and lost 22 pounds over the course of the season. That year, she also served as a correspondent on "Entertainment Tonight" (syndicated, 1981-) and hosted the E! Entertainment Network special "101 Incredible Celebrity Slimdowns." The singer/actress also found time to release her solo debut CD, A Mother's Gift Lullabies From the Heart, which was a collection of songs for her daughter. Her father Brian even appeared on a cover of the classic song, "You Are So Beautiful."