Kari Michaelsen is an American actress and motivational speaker, who rose to fame for her role as Katie Kanisky in the hit NBC sitcom, “Gimme a Break!” in 1980.
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Early life and family
Kari Michaelsen was born Kari Kathleen Markust on November 3, 1961, in Manhattan, New York, to Arne Marcus of Norwegian descent and Roberta Stevenson. Her father was a singer while her mother was a dancer. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1975. Her mother died of bone cancer in 2000 at the age of 77. On her Instagram, she paid tribute to her mother on International Women’s Day for being her best friend, mentor, supporter and biggest fan. She said, “I love you more than words can express, and keep trying to be a Light, as you were every day of your life.”
She also greeted her mom on her March 8 birthday by posting a montage of old photos of her mom, whom she called her angel in heaven. Her birthday greeting to her dad on her IG was all about being thankful to God for blessing her with a kind, loving, and supportive father, and that she still misses him.
She graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1979. She then took a psychology course at the University of California, Los Angeles, but was unable to graduate because at that time she was cast for the role of Katie, one of the main characters in the sitcom, “Gimme a Break.”
Kari started her career early when she sang on the soundtrack of the highly popular children’s television show ‘Sesame Street’, and she also performed in Off-Broadway plays at the age of 11. She made films in the early 1980s, such as the American comedy-horror film, “Saturday the 14e”, which grossed $4 million at the box office and the “Terror in the Aisles”, which featured clips from “Friday the 13eand other horror movies, which grossed more than $10 million at the box office.
Throughout the 1980s, she won guest roles in several television series, including the sitcom ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, the comedy-drama series ‘Eight is Enough’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’.
Her big break came when she was cast as Katie Kanisky in the hit sitcom “Gimme a Break!” which ran for six seasons from 1981 to 1987. Her acting was recognized here and she was nominated for Best Young Actress in a Comedy Series at the Young Artist Award in 1983. She received another nomination for Best Young Actress in 1984, but this time it is for her role in “The Kid with the 200 IQ”, a made-for-television comedy film from NBC. In 1989, she did the movie ‘Girl Talk’ and guest starred in an episode of ‘Full House’ and retired from acting. Her reasons for quitting have not been disclosed.
Success as a host
She took business courses after her last film and TV projects.
In 1999, she co-hosted a morning radio show in Santa Barbara, California with Lee Marshall that ran on three stations. She left the show after months had passed and hosted the TV show ‘In the Spotlight’ in 2000 where she interviewed celebrities namely John Travolta, Martin Sheen and Kenny Loggins. The show aired twice weekly in four counties in California.
Success as a motivational speaker, QVC host
In 2001, she retired from television work and focused more on becoming not only a host, but also a motivational speaker, consultant, coach, and media and marketing mentor. She became host of the “Get Motivated” Business Seminar which toured the United States to motivate or guide people in marketing, leadership and communication strategies.
The event was held in venues that could hold 10,000 to 25,000 people, and featured guests or motivational speakers, such as Rudy Guiliani, Steve Forbes, Sarah Palin, and other well-known personalities who have excelled in their fields or chosen careers. She also hosted wealth exhibitions in Toronto in 2018 and in New York and LA in 2019 with guest speakers namely Sylvester Stallone, Pitbull and Tony Robbins.
She founded her own company, Michaelsen Enterprises, and went on to teach other educational seminars such as “The Maximum Credibility Success Summit” for entrepreneurs who wanted to learn more about marketing and public relations. Kari became the brand ambassador and creative consultant for Barefoot Dreams, an international brand of luxury blankets and apparel for newborns, toddlers and adults.
To promote the brand, she has a weekly show on QVC, an American home shopping experience television network. She also uses her personal IG account to further promote the brand. Other shows in QVC where she can be seen include “PM Style” and “The Find”, appearing on QVC’s Primetime Apparel Shows.
She is currently single and there is no news that she is dating or in a relationship.
She met Andy Gibb on the set of “Gimme a Break” in 1983 when he became a guest on the show, and began dating. Andy took drugs and the two ended their relationship after two years. He died of myocarditis on March 10, 1988, at the age of 30.
#homebound Sending you all my thoughts and prayers at this very scary time…. With love 🙏❤️🙏 (thank God for Starbucks Drive Thru) #coronavirius #shelterinplace #prayersforusall
He was a singer, songwriter and teen idol, who rose to popularity in the 1970s with six singles reaching the Top 10 in the US. He was also the younger brother of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb of the internationally renowned pop music group Bee Gees. In 1985, she dated Michael J. Fox, a multiple award-winning Canadian actor, comedian, and film producer. They were both doing shows for NBC at the time. In 1986 they separated.
Kari met David Waldock, a 52-year-old Mercedes Benz executive, while she was shopping for a car. She was married in July 2002, two years after they got engaged, and had a son they named Nickolas. His birthday is on November 19. They all lived together in a four-bedroom ranch-style house in Westlake Village, California. After seven years, they divorced in 2009. Her son graduated from high school in May 2019. He is a golfer and she accompanies him when he goes golfing and participating in golf tournaments around the world.
She is a proud “Golf Mom” and is very supportive of her son’s career by being his personal assistant, photographer, publicist and biggest fan.
Rumors, controversies and interesting facts
- She reportedly beat out Helen Hunt for the role of Katie Karinsky in “Gimme a Break”
- Kari used to do gymnastics and Nadia Comaneci was her childhood idol and source of inspiration at the time
- At the “Circus of the Stars”, she did a split on the high wire 30 feet in the air without a seatbelt while wearing a skimpy costume
- There was an article in Riverfront Times in May 2011 about the “Get Motivated!” seminar held in St. Louis on April 27, 2011 with Kari as emcee. The seminar, which hosted former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and other celebrities, was reportedly just a get-rich-quick scheme by the organizers, where you pay $1.95 to attend. take, but in the end eventually have to pay. more or will be charged monthly if you provide your credit card number and don’t read the fine print on the contract that says you must send a cancellation notice on a specific day. You do get to hear from these popular personalities, but you also have to listen to hours of sales pitches from other speakers.
Back on QVC this Tuesday, October 27th with Barefoot Dreams at 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific on their hit show “The Find” pic.twitter.com/GUU40Q3NTf
— Kari Michaelsen (@KariMichaelsen) October 25, 2015
Kari has a slim build. She is 1.6 m tall. Her weight and vital statistics are unknown. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.
It has not been revealed how much she earns from hosting, being a motivational speaker and owning her own business. However, sources estimate her net worth at around $88 million in early 2020.