Actor Johnny Galecki has made a name for himself by playing geeky guys, including long-running roles on the hit sitcoms Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory.
Actor Johnny Galecki was born in 1975 in Belgium, and moved to Illinois at the age of 3. In recent years, he's become the poster boy for adorable nerds on television. Acting on the small screen since age 12, Galecki has established himself as a prominent actor with two hit sitcoms: Roseanne, on which Galecki played Darlene Connor's awkward but devoted beau, David Healy, in the 1990s; and The Big Bang Theory, on which he began playing nerdy physicist Leonard Hofstadter in 2007.
John Mark Galecki was born on April 30, 1975, in Bree, Belgium, and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. His family relocated stateside when he was 3 years old—the same time that, according to Galecki, he knew he was going to be an actor. And it wasn't long before he was well on his way to accomplishing his dream. By age 7, Galecki had begun appearing in productions at Chicago's Goodman Theater. In 1989, he nabbed his first movie role in the family flick Prancer.
Johnny Galecki later starred in another holiday film that boosted his career, playing Chevy Chase's son, Rusty Griswold, in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Gaining traction in showbiz, an adolescent Galecki decided to stay in Burbank on his own while his family, who weren't fans of California, returned to Chicago. Not long after, when Galecki was 16 years old, he suffered a great loss: His father, a member of the U.S. Air Force who taught blind veterans, died in a car accident.
Staying on the West Coast soon paid off for the teen: In 1992, he set foot on one of television's top shows at the time, Roseanne; Galecki was cast as David Healy, the boyfriend turned husband of Roseanne's snarky daughter, Darlene (played by Sara Gilbert), on the series. His character's sensitive and dorky demeanor captured audiences' hearts, we well as Roseanne Barr's—she decided to keep him on the show for the next five seasons.
Galecki credits the sitcom for honing his acting craft. "In many ways, Roseanne was my college," the actor said in a People magazine interview. After the series ended in 1997, Galecki continued to land minor acting gigs, including parts in the films I Know What You Did Last Summer, Bounce, Vanilla Sky and Hancock.
Broadway to 'The Big Bang Theory'
Galecki left behind the wholesome character that he had been typecast as during the Roseanne era in 2007, when he played a male prostitute in the Tony Award-nominated play The Little Dog Laughed; the part also required a full-frontal nude scene by Galecki. While risqué, the role garnered the actor praise as well as a Theater World Award for outstanding debut.
Afterward, Galecki returned to his TV roots, playing geeky physicist Leonard Hofstadter, Ph.D., on the popular program The Big Bang Theory. His character crushes on a neighbor, a waitress/actress named Penny (Kaley Cuoco), and rooms with fellow scientist dweeb Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons). After two decades on TV, Galecki finally received his first Emmy Award nomination, as well as a Golden Globe nod, thanks to this role.
In addition to bringing him industry recognition, The Big Bang Theory helped spice up Galecki's love life: For two years while filming the series, he secretly dated co-star Kaley Cuoco. In 2010, the couple amicably parted ways.
Galecki found love again a few years later with another actress, Kelli Garner. Unlike his clandestine relationship with Cuoco, it didn't take long for media outlets to report that Galecki and Garner were dating, as the couple began making regular public appearances early on. Galecki is undoubtedly a rare breed of child star, growing up in the public eye without major dramas, except for those he's performed on screen.