|Holly Marie Combs is an American actress and television producer, best known for her role as Piper Halliwell on The WB television series Charmed (1998–2006). During the mid-1990s, Combs appeared as Kimberly Brock on the CBS television series Picket Fences (1992–1996), which earned her a Young Artist Award. She also starred in films such as Sweet Hearts Dance (1988), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Dr. Giggles (1992), Sins of Silence (1996), Daughters (1997) and Love’s Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder (1997). Combs is currently starring in the ABC Family television series Pretty Little Liars as Ella Montgomery.|
When she was 13 years-old, Combs landed her first major role in Sweet Hearts Dance (1988), a comedy drama film directed by Robert Greenwald. She portrayed the role of Debs Boon, the daughter of Wiley Boon (played by Don Johnson) and Sandra Boon (played by Susan Sarandon). Her next major role was in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July (1989), a film adaptation of the best selling autobiography of the same name by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Combs portrayed the role of Jenny in the film, which also starred Tom Cruise. Her other roles included Helena in the 1989 anthology film New York Stories, and Kim Fields in Hal Hartley’s Simple Men (1992). Also in 1992, Combs made an appearance in Temístocles López’s Chain of Desire as Diana, and in the slasher film Dr. Giggles, for which she portrayed the role of Jennifer Campbell, the 19 year-old daughter of Tom Campbell (played by Cliff De Young) and girlfriend of Max Anderson (played by Glenn Quinn).
Combs’ first major breakthrough as an actress came at the age of 18, in the CBS television series Picket Fences. She portrayed the role of Kimberly Brock, the daughter of Sheriff Jimmy Brock (played by Tom Skerritt) and Dr. Jill Brock (played by Kathy Baker), for the show’s four seasons (1992–96). Combs auditioned for the role in New York. The casting agent told her that she wasn’t right for the part because she “didn’t have a big enough heart.” Combs retorted, “If you’re looking for someone with a big heart, what the hell are you doing in New York?.” She was later called back and offered the job. Combs won a Young Artist Award for her performance on the show. During 1996, Combs starred as Sophie DiMatteo in Sins of Silence, a drama/horror television film directed by Sam Pillsbury. The following year, Combs portrayed real-life convicted murderess Diane Zamora in the television film Love’s Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder, and appeared in the fact-based drama film Daughters as Alex Morell, one of the two daughters of a murdered heiress.
In 1998, Combs landed a lead role in The WB television series Charmed, for which she portrayed Piper Halliwell, the middle of three sisters who discover they are witches. Combs’ friend Shannen Doherty portrayed the role of the eldest sister Prue Halliwell, while Alyssa Milano starred as the youngest sister Phoebe Halliwell. Following Doherty’s departure after the third season (2000–01), resulting in her character’s death, Combs became the eldest sister for the remaining five seasons of the show, and Rose McGowan was cast as Doherty’s replacement Paige Matthews in the fourth season (2001–02). Combs became a producer for Charmed from the fifth season (2002–03) and onwards. The series ended its run on May 21, 2006. In 2008, AOL named Combs’ character Piper the third greatest witch in television history. Combs is the only cast member to appear in the unaired pilot and every episode of the series.
During Charmed, Combs made a cameo appearance in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001), and starred opposite Charisma Carpenter in the romantic comedy film See Jane Date (2003), portraying the role of “a struggling actress whose career benefits from an affair with an A-list actor.” In 2007, she starred in the Lifetime television film Panic Button as Kathy Alden, a wife and mother of a single child whose family moves to a “beautiful and supposedly secure gated community after she’s the victim of a violent house break-in.” The following year, Combs signed a contract with Lifetime to produce and star in the television series Mistresses, which is based on the British series of the same name. However, the show never made it to air. In 2010, Combs was cast in the ABC Family television series Pretty Little Liars as Ella Montgomery, the mother of one of the main characters Aria Montgomery (played by Lucy Hale). The show is currently in its third season.