Shannon Whirry is not just a talented actress with girl-next-door looks, she captured a generation of viewers’ imaginations by wishing that she actually was the girl-next-door.
Born in Green Lake County, Wisconsin, Whirry graduated from high school and packed her bags for New York. She trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts during the 1980s and began her career in Off-Broadway productions as well as appearances on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and the popular daytime soap ‘One Life to Live’. When Steven Seagal came to town during the casting for his 1991 movie Out for Justice (1991), Whirry won the role of Terry Malloy, a cocktail waitress. She left for LA.
Following this small role, she auditioned for and won the part of Joanna Coles in the erotic thriller Animal Instincts (1992). Directed by Gregory Dark, the movie capitalized on the direct-to-video market and the popularity of steamy movies in the early 1990s. Animal Instincts (1992) revolved around a couple’s bid to spice up their marriage through voyeuristic sexual adventures. The film was a hit.
Over the following years, Whirry worked with Gregory Dark on more films in the same vein. Animal Instincts II (1994) and Body of Influence (1993) are well known. She also appeared in Exit (1996), Ringer (1996), Mirror Images II (1993), and Private Obsession (1995) among others. She was, and still is, regarded as an icon of the erotic thriller genre. Debate continues as to whether one prefers Shannon Whirry or Shannon Tweed.
In the mid-90s, Whirry broke away from the confines of the genre, and appeared in movies with more focus on action and adventure, as well as appearing in numerous TV shows in guest spots. TV roles have included Murder One (1995), Nash Bridges (1996), V.I.P. (1998), and ER (1994). Whirry was also a regular on the TV show Mike Hammer, Private Eye (1997).
Despite some Hollywood attention and a variety of roles (including a cameo in the Jim Carrey vehicle Me, Myself & Irene (2000)) Whirry felt that roles were drying up in LA, where the focus was, and remains, on youth. She left LA in 2004.
These days, Shannon Whirry lives in the Phoenix area of Arizona. She can be seen in challenging roles on the stage with iTheatre Collaborative or Nearly Naked Theatre. Her stage roles have garnered her much acclaim. Small roles continue in front of the camera, mostly filmed locally. She also has appeared in TV commercials.
In May 2009, Whirry appeared in “Bug” at the Herberger Theatre Center in Phoenix. More recently she has appeared in ‘Raising Buchanan’ in a supporting role. Whilst fans are sure to be pleased that her career is continuing and flourishing, some surely wouldn’t mind another Animal Instincts (1992) sequel.
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