Punky and Sabrina: The Many Roles of Soleil Moon Frye
American actress, director, and screenwriter, Soleil Moon Frye, started her acting career in 1982. Since then she has starred in her own television show, made for television movies, made guest appearances on other television shows, and has also lent her voice for a few animation shows. Soleil is now married with two daughters and has her own green children’s clothing line. Although she has many nominations, awards, and credits under her belt, she will always be best known for her roles in Punky Brewster and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
The Early Years
Soleil Moon Frye was born on August 6, 1976 in Glendale, California. Her father is actor Virgil Frye best known for his role in the 1969 film Easy Rider with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Her mother, Sondra Peluce Londy, is a talent agent and she has two half brothers which were both child actors. Half-brother Sean Frye played Elliot’s older brother in the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Her other half-brother is Meeno Peluce who played “Tanner Boyle” in the television show The Bad News Bears.
Her Early Career
Soleil began her career in 1982 in the movie Missing Children: A Mother’s Story with Jane Wyatt, John Anderson, Mary McCusker, Peter Scolari, and Mare Winningham. In 1983 she was in another made for television movie Who Will Love My Children with Ann-Margaret, Rachel Jacobs, Cathryn Damon, Donald Moffat, Frederic Forrest, and Tracey Gold. That same year she was in Little Shots with Erin Nicole Brown, Jeff Cohen, Jennifer Edwards, and Kevin Berlat. The following year is when she took on the role of “Penelope Punky Brewster.”
When Soleil was eight years-old, she landed a role that she will forever be remembered for. Penelope Punky Brewster was a young girl abandoned by her mother. Her and her dog Brandon found safety in a vacant building until eventually meeting a grumpy photographer named Henry, played by George Gaynes. Punky wins“Henry’s heart and he takes her in becoming her foster parent. The 80’s sitcom ran for only two seasons (84 – 86) but ran again in syndication from 1987 – 1988. Soleil worked on other projects during the filming of her sitcom as well as continuing to work once the show came to an end.
Early Career 1984 - 1986
In 1984 Soleil was in two more television movies: one with Ernie Kovacs called Between Me and Laughter and the other called Invitation To Hell. Still while her sitcom was in full swing, Soleil stayed very busy with her career. In 1985 she made guest appearances on the television shows Diff’rent Strokes in the episode called “Sam’s New Pal” and again in McGruder and Loud in the episode titled “The Very Scary Man.” This same year and through 1986, Soleil did the voice of Penelope in the animated series It’s Punky Brewster which ran for twenty-six episodes.
Career 1987 - 1989
By 1987 Soleil was making another television guest appearance on The Law and Harry McGraw in the episode “She’s Not Wild about Harry.” By 1988 she won the lead role, “Tyler McKay” in another sitcom titled Cadets. In 1989 Soleil hosted, along with two other girls, a weekly special teen talk show called Girl Talk which was a based off of the girls board game.
Career 1990 – 1992
A new decade only meant new adventures for Soleil as she continued appearing in television movies, sitcoms, and even on the big screen. In 1990 she appeared in the television show Where’s Rodney?, and was also in the episode “Growing Up” in the sitcom The Wonder Years starring Fred Savage. In 1992 Soleil was the voice of “Amanda Duff” for two episodes of the animated series Tiny Toon Adventures. This same year Soleil also made a guest appearance on a very popular Saturday morning show, Saved by the Bell.
Saved by the Bell
Saved by the Bell aired on Saturday mornings from 1989 to 1993. The cast included “Zack Morris” (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), “Kelly” (Tiffany Amber Thiesen), “Jesse” (Elizabeth Berkely), “Lisa” (Lark Voorhees), “A.C. Slater” (Mario Lopez) and “Samuel Screech Powers” (Dustin Diamond). Soleil appeared in an episode called “Screech’s Spaghetti Sauce.” “Robin” (Frye) only wanted to date “Screech” (Diamond) after he had a secret recipe for spaghetti sauce that had been passed down for generations. It was so good the kids decided to bottle it to sell and “Robin” only wanted the gifts his money could buy.
The Liar’s Club 1993
In 1993 Soleil stars in an R-rated movie titled The Liar’s Club. The movie is a story of a group of football friends that tend to exaggerate their accomplishments. Although harmless at first, it quickly ends when one friend brutally assaults a young girl. The boys must lie to cover what eventually becomes a murder. The movie also stars Wil Wheaton from Star Trek, Alan Fudge, Brian Krause, Bruce Weitz and Jeffery Porter.
Career 1994 - 1996
In 1994 she was in The Saint Tammany Miracle, Pumkinhead II: Blood Wings, and a television movie Summertime Switch in which she played “Peggy” the head cheerleader. She was in Heaven Help Us with John Schneider the same year. In 1995 she was in Twisted Love, and the remake of Pirahna and Run a Mile with Rob Benedict. In 1996 she played “Becky Hansen” in Mind Games and was the voice of “Mary” in the “Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women” episode on The Cartoon Cartoon Show.
Career 1997 - 1999
In 1997 she appeared in another made for television movie called The Secret and in 1998 she appeared in I’ve Been Waiting for You with Sarah Chalke (Rosanne, Scrubs). In the same year she wrote and directed Wild Horses making her directorial debut at the young age of twenty-two. In 1999 she played agent ‘Kyle Rivers” in Motel Blue and “Jen Miller” in the episode “The Prodigy” of Working. In 1999 Soleil played “Robin” in the pilot episode of Grown Ups which also starred Jaleel White (Steve Urkel). Unfortunately the show did not do very well as far as attracting a fan base and was cancelled after the first season.
Soleil on Friends
Again in 1999, Soleil made another television appearance. This time she played a spunky character named “Katie” on the long-running, popular sitcom Friends. Katie was the girlfriend of Joey Tribiani (Matt LeBlanc) and every time she said something she would playfully hit Joey. Joey complained to his friends about her hitting and wanted to break up with Katie, but they made jokes about how such a tiny person could hurt such a big guy. Only when she punched Rachael (Jennifer Anniston) was it that Rachael punched her back and she left out of anger. The episode is humorously titled “The one with the girl who hits Joey.”
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Melissa Joan Hart played “Sabrina Spellman” a teenage girl with magical powers in a television sitcom called Sabrina The Teenage Witch also starring Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick. The show first started in 1996 and ran for seven seasons. In the beginning of season five “Sabrina” is off to college. She leaves her home to live with college roommates which is the same season Melissa’s long time pal, Soleil Moon Frye, joined the cast as “Roxie King,” the anti-social feminist roommate, in 2000. Soleil continued with the show until it ended.
Her Career from 2000
As she continued in her role as Roxie, in 2000 Soleil appeared as “Casey” in The Girl’s Room. From 2001 to 2005 she was the voice of “Zoey” for forty-six episodes in the animated series The Proud Family. While continuing her voice over she appeared in Sex and a Girl/Alex in Wonder in 2001. In 2004 Soleil directed again. This time it was a documentary about her father and the Alzheimer’s disease he suffers with called Sonny boy. She was the voice of “Annasthesia” in the episode “License to Slumber/Three Days of the Coin Op” in The X’s. In 2010 she did the main role in Planet Sheen the voice of “Aseefa.” She also did a few episodes of Robot Chicken which Seth Green was also involved in.
Soleil and Bratz
Bratz are a more modern form of the Barbie doll. The dolls are geared towards a funkier sort of style and have become quite popular with young girls today. Soleil is the voice of “Jade” in 2004’s Bratz the Video: Starrin’ and Stylin’. She lends her voice again in 2005 for Bratz Rock Angelz and in 2006 for Forever Diamondz. She also did a voice over when the animation was on television.
For Better or Worse
The newest adventure for Soleil is For Better or for Worse with Janeane Garofalo, Chad Allen, Patrick Muldoon, Rebecca Gayheart, and Brad Rowe. The film is a comedy about a gay-wedding. Two grooms have families that threaten to ruin the wedding and Soleil Moon Frye plays the lesbian minister performing the ceremony. Directed by Josh Tunick the release date of the film is unknown.
In 1985 Soleil was nominated for the Young Artist Award in the category Best Young Actress in a TV Comedy Series for her role as Punky Brewster. Other nominees were Kim Fields (Facts of Life), Lauri Hendler (Gimme A Break), Laura Jacoby (Mrs. Smith), Ari Meyers (Kate and Allie), Jil Whelen (The Love Boat), and the winner, Justine Bateman (Family Ties). She was nominated again in 1986 for the same award. In 1988 she had nominations for the Best Animation Voice Over Group category for It’s Punky and The Best Female Superstar in TV.
The Award Goes to…
In 1986 not only was she nominated for the Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Series but she won the award. She beat some tough competition with other nominations that included Lisa Bonet, Tricia Cast, Ari Meyers, Allison Smith, and Jil Whelan. She also won Best Young Actress in a Voice over Role for It’s Punky in 1989. Her biggest award would come in 2004 at the San Diego Film Festival for the documentary she directed, Sonny Boy. Soleil has won no more awards to date but that hasn’t slowed her down.
In 2004 Soleil directed her second film. Sonny Boy is a documentary very near and dear to her heart. Soleil documents a two-week trip she took with her father, Virgil Frye, as they travelled together to places of his past, hoping to rekindle a father daughter relationship. Virgil was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease and is currently in the late stages. There currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s and it affects the nervous system causing a person to eventually lose complete control over their memory.
As a teenager Soleil suffered from Gigantomastia. She had breast reduction surgery at the age of sixteen after being tired of not being able to do the things she enjoyed and being picked on. She was linked romantically to musician/actor Mark Wahlberg, Edward Furlong, and Brian Austin Green. She married producer/actor Jason Goldberg in 1998. She and Jason now have two daughters: Poet Sienna Rose Goldberg born in 2005 and Jagger Joseph Blue Goldberg born in 2008.
In 2010, almost thirty years after her television role as “Punky,” Soleil decided to write a book titled Happy Chaos. It’s a tell-all memoir of her life as a child star. The book also gives insight to her life now as a mother and wife. She knows most of her fans are girls that grew up watching her on television and are now parents themselves. This book shares not only her childhood experiences, but her experiences as a mother of two young girls.
Talk Shows, Game Shows, and Interviews
She has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, Regis, Rosie O’Donnell, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Maury, and Donny and Marie along with many others. She has done interviews with People Magazine, Parents Magazine and numerous interviews for radio, online magazines and blogs, including her own for her company “The Little Seed.”
Bringing Awareness to Alzheimer’s
Soleil is active in bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s disease. She won the Alzheimer’s Association “Who wears purple best?” contest. She was honored at a “Night at Sardi’s” with the caregiver award and at the national gala with the Alzheimer’s Associations young champion award. She attended the 10th annual Memory Walk in Los Angeles to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association along with Maria Shriver’s march for Alzheimer’s awareness. She also appeared on the television show The Doctor’s to discuss the disease. Soleil is a strong supporter of stem cell research as she believes this can help not only find a cure for Alzheimer’s but for other neurological disorders.
The Little Seed
In 2007 two friends along with Soleil opened their company The Little Seed which is a children’s specialty boutique that is based on being environmentally-conscious. The company is located in Los Angeles, California and has many celebrities as well as everyday environmentally conscious people as clientele. Soleil likes to include her children in the business so she can educate them on ways to help make the world a better place.
Soleil Moon Frye has many credits that come with her name. From first starting her career until now she has proven the test of time. She is an author, director, actress, parent, wife, and business owner as well as an advocate for neurological disease and educating environmental issues. Soleil has a proven track record of being successful in her life and career and will be around for years to come.