.: The Charming Holly Marie Combs :.
By Misty Bott
Holly Marie Combs seems to be leading a charmed life: she found fame as a young actress on the Emmy-award winning TV show Picket Fences, she’s currently the star of the WB’s hit show Charmed, she married her sweetheart on Valentine’s Day this year and she’s expecting her first baby. But life hasn’t always been so full of magic for her.
When Holly was born, her mother was just 15, and the two struggled for most of Holly’s young life. At 8 years old, Holly moved with her mom from California to New York City. Holly’s mom eventually married, but she worked late as a waitress and Holly’s step-dad was a bartender, so Holly spent many of her nights alone. She says, “I was a very solitary kid and I didn’t have a lot of friends when I was younger. Moving from California to New York was a big change for me and I didn’t fit in very well.”
Although she may not have interacted well with kids her age, she had no problem interacting with the camera. Holly began doing commercials and print ads when she was just 9 years old. She says, “We didn’t have a lot of money and that’s part of the reason I started acting…[it] was an easy way for me to make more money.” Holly got her big break at age 18 when she was chosen to play the part of Kimberly Brock on Picket Fences.
After the show’s end, Holly starred in TV movies before successfully auditioning for the role of one of the “Charmed Ones” in the WB’s new drama, Charmed, in 1998. The show’s based around the idea that the Halliwell sisters- Piper (Combs), Pheobe (Alyssa Milano) and Paige (Rose McGowan)- must battle and overcome evil by uniting their supernatural powers. Charmed has been a huge success for the WB and is now in its sixth season.
ON THE SET
This year, Holly’s once solitary life is changing dramatically. On Valentine’s Day, she and boyfriend David Donoho, whom she met on the set of Charmed, were married. And on April 27, she’ll add another person to her life with the birth of her son.
Holly and David were together when they learned of their pregnancy: “[Dace] was actually there when I peed on the stick,” Holly says. “I was looking at the stick going, ‘Is that a line.’ Three tests later we were still saying the same thing!”
Once the couple was sure the pregnancy was a reality, Holly announced the new to her producers because, she says, “ My character has been pregnant on the show last year, so I knew it was going to be an issue to work two pregnancies into the show in 2 years.”
Her producers hid her pregnancy from the audience for the first 6 months, but there was no hiding the symptoms Holly was feeling. She says the first three months were difficult: “I was in absolute amazement about how debilitating tired I was… You could read it on my face when they filmed me.” She tried to keep working at her usual pace but admits she couldn’t help thinking, “Wow, this is actually kicking my butt.” Luckily, Holly’s producers were very understanding. She says, “ They started to incorporate naptimes into my schedule…[and] they spread out my scenes so that I would have breaks in between.”
Holly’s co-stars, Alyssa and Rose, also help make things easier on her. Holly says of them, “ They’ve gone through every stage of my pregnancy with me to the point where in the beginning, Rose would apologize for having tuna fish for lunch!”
MIXING MAGIC AND DAY CARE
After her little boy’s birth, Holly hopes to bring him to the set with her. She’ll enlist the help of a nanny to watch him while she’s filming… if she can find one who’s willing to keep her hours! “ When we were interviewing nannies. Most of them just assumed that they would stay at home with the baby, “ Holly says. She had to tell them all, “No, you’ve got to come with me and I leave at 6:00 a.m., so you’ve got to be up early and ready to go… You’ll stay with me until about 4:00 and then you’ll get to go home!”
And luckily, the Charmed set is already prepared to handle babies. After Holly’s character gave birth to a little boy names Wyatt last season, Holly says’ ‘It’s like daycare there now.” Plus. Holly is sure she and her nanny will have all the help they need from other crew and cast members: “ Our crew is substantially women, so I have so many babysitters there. No one’s going to get any work done!”
Holly's been a smoker since she was 15 years old, but when she learned she was pregnant she decided to quit, She says, ‘It was actually really easy because I had already started to cut down. My husband is asthmatic and he just can’t for the life of him imagine why anybody would put a smoke in their mouth, so he really helped me to start cutting down.”
Pregnancy-related nausea was also a very motivating factor in her decision to quit. “ When I got pregnant the smell of other people’s cigarette smoke was so heinous to me that it made me not want to have a cigarette ever again,” Holly remembers. “It’s kind of like cheating when’ it’s so easy to quit because you can’t take the smell!”
Although it got her to quit smoking, pregnancy has made Holly acquire another vice: eating sugar. She says, “ I crave sugar more, [and] I was not a big sugar person before.” The actress blames her husband for her unavoidable ice cream cravings.
“David…is a sugar junkie. He can’t control himself around ice cream,” She says. “And it was funny [because] as soon as I got pregnant I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m turning into him! I’ve been invaded by his DNA and I’m turning into him!”
Otherwise, pregnancy has been pretty good to the actress. She says the worst thing for her has been “the indigestion. This child is awfully gassy!” And she’s grateful her hormones haven’t been too out of whack. “People say that pregnant women are hormonal and emotional and I didn’t find that to be true,” Holly says. “ I found that I was more logical and more clearheaded than I ever had been in my life. Your priorities just shift and suddenly everything becomes clear to you.”
THE REST OF THE FAMILY
Although this little boy will be Holly and Dave’s first baby, they already have a big family. Holly has always been an animal lover, and says, “I think we have five dogs at them moment, three cats, four bunnies, two birds, Coy fish and a turtle, I think I have every species covered!” Holly also has horses. She says, “ I have three quarter horses and then I have a pony. So four altogether, but the pony doesn’t really count as a whole one!”
Although Holly may not have supernatural powers in real life, the magic of science is helping her see into the future: if all goes as planned. She already knows exactly what day her baby will born. Her doctor has scheduled a C-section for her on April 27. She says although she didn’t really want a C-section, “[The doctor] didn’t give me a choice.”
When Holly was just 24, doctors discovered she sad a uterine fibroid that was about the size of a baseball. They feared it was cancerous, so they decided to remove it. Holly was told that if they found the fibroid was malignant during the surgery, the doctors would have to do a complete hysterectomy right then. “At 24 I hadn’t really begun thinking about children,” Holly remembers, “and then suddenly the choice was almost going to be taken away form me.” Luckily, the fibroid was benign, but Holly’s uterus was still affected by the surgery. Holly says, “[The surgery] created a weak spot in my uterus and [the doctors are] afraid that if I go through labor and contractions…it might tear and hemorrhage.”
Despite these complications, Holly feels lucky to have been able to get pregnant at all. “After my surgery [doctors] told me it might be really hard for me to get pregnant…but it was really easy for me. It was literally the first time we tried!” She laughs.
PARENTING IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Although she’s a star, Holly prefers avoiding the limelight as much as she can. “I’m not great at dealing with [the media],” She admits. “When kids come up to me to talk to me and say they love the show I’m almost as nervous as they are and it males me feel like a total goon!”
Holly hopes to shield her son form the media as much as she can. She says, “When I see Reese Witherspoom trying to go to the grocery store with her kids and there are photographers following her it just breaks my heart. I think, ‘She’s just trying to buy eggs…and you’ve got to document it for the world.’” Holly thinks it would be difficult to raise a child under those circumstances: “How do you raise a normal kid when you have to explain that there are strange men in the bushes taking your picture?”
But despite the pressures of Hollywood life, Holly, and her husband are both grateful they’ll be able to offer their child all the things they could never have when they were younger. “We had to struggle for everything we got,” Holly says, “so it’s important to use to make sure that this kid has everything we didn’t.” Then she adds with a smile, “I’m sure he’ll be spoiled rotten and we’ll be overcompensating a little!”
And Holly is definitely looking forward to the magic of motherhood. Because she spent so much of her young life alone, she says, “To be part of a family unit is going to be a while new experience for me.” This talented actress is very excited to add the role of mother to her growing list of accomplishments and to be completely bewitched by her own little charmed one.
Designing the nursery has been a bit more complicated for Holly and Dave than it is for most people. Holly says, “We had carpet all upstairs, and because this kid could have allergies and asthma like my husband, we tore out all the carpet and put down wood floors.” But the remodeling didn’t stop there. Holly continues, “ We tore out all the window and put new windows in to make sure the room was draft-free.” She also says, “I’m putting air purifiers in and a humidifier…and of course I had to use all the low-toxic paint and stain.” The she adds with a laugh, “Not that we’re neurotic or anything!”
~ Credit goes to Renae Mcmonagle and Karra Beasley for typing this up for the site. Thank you!