was born april 29, 1958 in Santa Ana, California, the second of four children of Richard Pfeiffer, an air-conditioning contractor and Donna (née Taverna), a housewife. She has one elder brother, Rick (born 1955), and two younger sisters, Dedee Pfeiffer (born 1964), a television and film actress and Lori Pfeiffer (born 1965). Her parents were both originally from North Dakota. Her paternal grandfather was of German ancestry and her paternal grandmother was of English, Welsh, French, Irish, and Dutch descent, while her maternal grandfather was of Swiss-German descent and her maternal grandmother of Swedish ancestry. The family moved to Midway City, where Pfeiffer spent her childhood. Pfeiffer attended Fountain Valley High School, graduating in 1976. She worked as a check-out girl at Vons supermarket, and attended Golden West College where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. After a short stint training to be a court stenographer, she decided upon an acting career. She won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant in 1978, and participated in the Miss California contest the same year, finishing in sixth place. Following her participation in these pageants, she acquired an acting agent and began to audition for television and films.
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