Katie Holmes

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"I think every little girl dreams about her wedding. I used to think I was going to marry Tom Cruise," said a young Katie Holmes. Some dreams clearly do come true, as the quintessential girl next door went on to become half of Hollywood's hottest couple and her hero's bride.

Kate Noelle Holmes was born on December 18, 1978, in Toledo, Ohio, to Roman Catholic parents Martin, a divorce lawyer and Kathleen, a housewife. The new arrival was the youngest addition to the close-knit family of five children. At the all-girl Notre Dame Academy Catholic high school, she excelled in her studies. "I had Katie in my religion class," remembers Sister Sally Marie Bohnett, "And I remember a bright-eyed, eager, happy student."

At 14 Katie enrolled in modelling classes run by Margaret O'Brien who took her to New York in 1996 for a talent convention. There the pretty teenager was spotted by a talent scout, and soon won her first screen role as Libbets in The Ice Storm. "Katie was cast because she had the perfect amount of innocence and worldliness," explained director Ang Lee. "She really is a beautiful girl, but there is also a lot of intelligence there and it shows."

The straight-A student had showed an early penchant for acting, performing in school productions such as Hello, Dolly. Ironically this nearly led to her missing her big break. She was asked to audition for Kevin Williamson's teen drama Dawson's Creek in LA but it conflicted with her playing Lola in the school musical Damn Yankees and she politely declined the offer.

Fortunately the producers allowed her to send a video tape, and she won the part of Dawson Leery's childhood sweetheart Joey Potter. "To meet her is to instantly fall under her spell," said the show's creator. Although she had been accepted to study at Columbia University, Katie put her further education on the back burner as the hugely popular series catapulted her to fame, with Time magazine declaring her "impossibly lovely".

Keen to escape the media hype, she bought a house in the sleepy town of Wilmington, North Carolina, where she lived while shooting the series between 1998 and 2003. "It was very difficult for me to leave Wilmington, to have my little glass bubble burst and move on. I hate change," she said in 2004. "So much of me is in Joey and it really felt like I grew up on television." Indeed it was while filming the show that she met her "first love", actor Joshua Jackson - who played her on-screen romantic interest Pacey Whitter.

Hollywood came calling while she was still in the series. Her first leading role came in 1998's Disturbing Behaviour, and she won praise for her part as a supermarket checkout girl in the acclaimed indie ensemble drama Go in 1999. Transitioning from the show that made her famous has not been easy. Despite receiving critical acclaim for her role in gritty comedy Pieces Of April, she received less encouraging reviews for The Gift in which she had a controversial nude scene - perhaps an effort to break out from her wholesome image.

In 2005, when she starred in her biggest blockbuster to date - Batman Begins - Katie described her films as being a string of "bombs", perhaps reflecting on the fact that in the post -Dawson years it has been the starlet's love life rather than her acting that has filled the column inches.

She became engaged to American Pie actor Chris Klein in 2003, after three years together, but two years on they decided to go their separate ways. "We grew up," said Chris. "The fantasy was over and reality set in."

But for Katie, the fantasy was only just beginning. Shortly after her split with Chris the actress began dating Hollywood's most influential actor, Tom Cruise. She later admitted that her attraction to the world's biggest movie star started years before when, as a teen, she had a poster of him on her bedroom wall. Their first date, on April 18, was reported to be a sushi dinner on Tom's private plane, and they appeared in public together for the first time days later at an awards event in Rome.

Just two months on - after a very public courtship - Katie accepted Tom's romantic marriage proposal at the Eiffel Tower in Paris on June 17. The Mission: Impossible actor went down on one knee and recited a two-page poem he had written. "I've found the man of my dreams... I was just blown away. He's the most incredible man," an elated Katie told one magazine.

The whirlwind romance was cemented in October 2005 when they announced they were expecting a baby, and Katie gave birth to daughter Suri on April 18, 2006. "I was just ready. The feeling is indescribable," said the new mum of the first time she held her daughter. The couple married in a lavish, star-studded ceremony at an Italian castle in November 2006.

Fortunately for her fans she is apparently keen to take her career to the next level and head back to work. According to one US paper she has met with her agent to discuss the perfect script to mark her comeback in a more mature role and, in doing so, finally saying goodbye to Joey Potter.
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