Jennifer Morrison has been asked so often if she's related to iconic Sixties singer Jim Morrison she's developed a convincing yarn about his legacy to her family. "It's really sad that he died," the actress will say, looking inquirers straight in the eye. "But he's totally influenced us - we're all into music. My parents are both music teachers."
It's not true, of course, but the Chicago native has her own claim to fame. As Dr Allison Cameron, Hugh Laurie's highly-strung, driven sidekick on medical drama House
, Jennifer has become one of TV's most recognised faces. The role of the brainy physician who harbours a desire for her irascible boss has so gripped the public imagination that strangers stop to offer the attractive brunette relationship advice meant for her on-screen alter ego. Women approach her on the street to inform her that her maverick boss is "just misunderstood". "Stick it out!" they urge, "he needs you!" causing Jennifer to muse in bewilderment: "And I'm like, 'I'm not really Cameron. And he's not really House'."
Born on August 19, 1979, Jennifer studied at Chicago's Prospect High School, where her father David gave music lessons. With her sunny, cheerleader's personality and warm, hazel eyes she got used to the camera from an early age, modelling throughout her childhood for newspaper ads. Aged 11 she even appeared on a kids' version of celebrated US magazine Sports Illustrated
with basketball superstar Michael Jordan.
At 15 the precocious youngster made her Hollywood debut, impressing in Intersection
as a fragile teen caught up in her parents' harrowing separation opposite Richard Gere
and Sharon Stone
. Jennifer then passed through the hothouse of young Tinseltown talent that was Dawson's Creek
, learning the ropes alongside Katie Holmes
and Michelle Williams.
While her character Dr Cameron would have been trying to figure out one end of the stethoscope from the other, Jennifer was studying drama at Illinois' Loyola University. She also spent a summer with the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Her career got firmly back on track in 2004 when she signed up for the romantic comedy Surviving Christmas
. It wasn't exactly the sort of low-key role most actresses expect to land fresh out of university - Jennifer spent much of the movie snuggling up to Ben Affleck
. Then in the 2005 movie Mr & Mrs Smith
she got to rough up Brad Pitt
and Vince Vaughn as one of Angelina Jolie
's assassin colleagues.
The following year she signalled her ambition to move on to a role behind the camera by producing the mystery Flourish
. But with House
having scooped a slew of awards, the dynamic actress should be prepared to discuss Dr Cameron's love life for some time to come.