Kari Michaelsen is an American actress and motivational speaker, who rose to fame for her role as Katie Kanisky on NBC’s hit sitcom, “Gimme a Break!” in 1980.
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Early life and family
Kari Michaelsen was born on November 3, 1961 in Manhattan, New York, to Kari Kathleen Marmatten, the son of Arne Marmatten 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 mother on her birthday on March 8 by posting a montage of old photos of her mother, whom she called her angel in heaven. Her birthday greeting to her father 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 the time she was cast as 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 very 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 ’80s, such as the American comedy-horror film, “Saturday the 14”e‘, which grossed $4 million and the ‘Terror in the Aisles’, featuring clips from ‘Friday the 13e” and other horror films, which had box office returns of over $10 million.
Throughout the 1980s, she won guest spots on 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 on 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 Awards 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,” an NBC made-for-television comedy. In 1989 she did the movie ‘Girl Talk’, was a guest on 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 program with Lee Marshall in Santa Barbara, California, which aired on three stations. She left the show after months passed and in 2000 hosted the TV show ‘In the Spotlight’ where she interviewed celebrities namely John Travolta, Martin Sheen and Kenny Loggins. The show aired twice a week in four California counties.
Success as a motivational speaker, QVC host
In 2001, she retired from television work and focused more on becoming not just a presenter, but also a motivational speaker, consultant, coach, and media and marketing mentor. She became the host of the ‘Get Motivated’ Business Seminar that toured the United States to motivate or guide people through marketing, leadership and communication strategies.
Held in venues that seat 10,000 to 25,000 people, the event 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 power shows 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 conducted other educational seminars such as “The Maximum Credibility Success Summit” for business owners who wanted to learn more about marketing and public relations. Kari became the brand ambassador and creative advisor for Barefoot Dreams, an international brand of luxury blankets and clothing for newborns, toddlers and adults.
To promote the brand, she has a weekly show on QVC, an American television network for in-home shopping experience. 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’, which can be seen 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 was addicted to 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 during this 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 that reached 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 multi-award winning Canadian actor, comedian and film producer. They were both doing shows for NBC at the time. They broke up in 1986.
Kari met David Waldock, a 52-year-old Mercedes-Benz executive, while looking for a car. She was married in July 2002, two years after they got engaged, they had a son they named Nickolas. His birthday is on November 19. They all lived together in a four-bedroom ranch 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 plays golf and participates in golf tournaments around the world.
She is a proud “Gulf Mother” and wholeheartedly supports her son’s career by being his personal assistant, photographer, publicist and biggest fan.
Rumors, controversies and interesting facts
- She reportedly beat Helen Hunt for the role of Katie Karinsky in “Gimme a Break”
- Kari used to do gymnastics and Nadia Comaneci was her idol and inspiration for her childhood at that time
- At the “Circus of the Stars” she did a splice on the high wire 35 feet in the air with no seat belt while wearing a skimpy costume
- There was an article in Riverfront Times in May 2011 about the “Get Motivated!” seminar on April 27, 2011 in St. Louis with Kari as emcee. The seminar, with guests including former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and other celebrities, was reportedly just a get-rich-quick scheme from the organizers, paying $1.95 to attend. but could end up paying more or being charged monthly if you provide your credit card number and don’t read the fine print on the contract stating that you have to send a cancellation notice on a particular day. You’ll get to hear from these popular personalities, but you’ll also have to listen to hours-long sales pitches from other speakers.
Back on QVC this Tuesday, October 27 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 blond hair and blue eyes.
It has not been disclosed how much she earns from hosting, a motivational speaker and owning her own business. However, sources estimate her net worth at around $88 million as of early 2020.