She was the original Buffy. And for a time, she was one of the most sought after actresses in the world. So, what happened to Kristy Swanson and what has she been doing lately? Here’s what we know…
While Kristy Swanson began her career at the age of 15 on a TV series called It’s Your Move (following that up with Call to Glory, Cagney & Lacey, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents) her first real shot at relevance came when she worked on not one but two John Hughes films: Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Granted, they were not big roles, but John Hughes knew her. And back then, that was a big deal.
Kristy Swanson turned the “big deal” into her first feature starring role when she was part of horror legend director Wes Craven’s film Deadly Friend. From there she went right into the V.C. Andrews’s film adaptation of Flowers in the Attic. She was off and running.
For the next five or so years, Kristy Swanson found herself on TV movies (Not Quite Human, Nightingales, The Loner), a couple of TV series (Knots Landing, Nightingales, B.L. Stryker) while also moving over to feature films (Dream Trap, Mannequin: On the Move, Highway to Hell, Hot Shots!).
THE ORIGINAL BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
The ’90s was Kristy Swanson’s decade. She was seen in over 20 projects that included both TV and features. But the one that set up her successful ‘90s run was when she got the role as Buffy Summers. If that name looks familiar it should because Buffy Summers is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The initial release of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie wasn’t a huge critical success. It wasn’t a huge box office draw either. Writer Joss Whedon sold his script to Sandollar, which was country singer legend Dolly Parton’s production company.
The movie also starred Luke Perry who, at the time, was a big part of the megahit TV series Beverly Hills, 90210, so the production schedule had to fit his 90210 schedule. This could be part of the reason Whedon decided to walk away from the movie. He began to be unhappy with the tone and direction the movie was taking, much different from his intended idea, so he bailed on the project. This could also be the reason why, five years later, Whedon came back with his Buffy TV series.
The differences were many from Whedon’s script to the final product with producers wishing for a lighter touch than what Whedon intended. Regardless, Kristy Swanson performed her role as the snobbish, shopaholic cheerleader with glee, also handling the physical rigors of vampire hunting with grace. Unfortunately for Swanson, when Whedon revisited Buffy the Vampire Slayer five years later, he brought in Sarah Michelle Gellar as the new Buffy.
KRISTY SWANSON DOES PLAYBOY
Kristy Swanson rolled through the rest of the ’90s quite well. She pretty much went full bore into feature films, showing up in The Program, The Chase, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, Ground Control, and Big Daddy. She started off the 2000s with Dude, Where’s My Car?, Soul Assassin, and Silence, and then she made jaws drop. Literally.
In 2002, Kristy Swanson decided to throw fans a curve and this one was a 12-to-6 knee bender. This was the year that Swanson decided to pose fully nude in Playboy. It was a photo spread that fans maybe always hoped for but never thought they’d get.
Maybe Swanson felt her movie career was stalling, maybe she just needed a little attention, according to Swanson though, “I could not pass up the opportunity to work with the renowned photographer, Phillip Dixon, and by the look of my pictorial I think I made the perfect choice.” She made the most of it.
The Playboy spread didn’t seem to hurt her career. Kristy Swanson continued to grab roles, though they were more of the TV series, TV movie variety. Things seemed to be moving along just fine for the actress until she found herself on the TV show Skating with Celebrities.
KRISTY SWANSON AND CONTROVERSY
Kristy Swanson joined Skating with Celebrities and was partnered with Lloyd Eisler, a former World Champion pairs skater. From the looks of things, Eisler was a happily married man, his wife Marcia just had their first child and was pregnant with their second.
But sources say, via People, Swanson and Eisler’s skating on screen was nothing compared to their “skating” off-screen, “Everyone knew there was something going on. It was obvious they were together.” Maybe not everyone.
Another of the show’s competitors, Bruce Jenner (now known as Caitlyn Jenner) was clueless. “I just noticed that they got really good (at skating),” Jenner told PEOPLE at the time. “I never knew anything until I saw it on the news.” Their rumored relationship led to a real one. Eisler left his wife and their two young kids for Kristy Swanson.
Since that time Swanson and Eisler have remained together, first having a child of their own in 2007 and then officially tying the knot in 2009. But the troubles for Kristy Swanson didn’t end there.
It may have not been a big incident, but Kristy Swanson did have an altercation with Eisler’s ex-wife, Marcia. Supposedly it happened in front of Eisler and his two small children.
Swanson was with Eisler on a scheduled visit in Kingston, Ontario to see his children when the incident happened. The confrontation between the two women ended with Kristy being charged with no charges filed against Marcia Eisler.
At the time, Kristy Swanson claimed it was Marcia who assaulted her, making sure the police took photos of the damage Eisler had done. Eventually, though, a deal was struck, and all charges were dropped.
KRISTY SWANSON NOW
Now 50-years-old Kristy Swanson is less visible but still active. With those controversial incidents 13 or so years in the past, Swanson continues to work in Hollywood.
Throughout the 2010s Kristy concentrated on the TV side of the business. She had a recurring role on the series Psych and was seen in many TV movies such as Angels in the Snow, A Mother’s Sacrifice, Winter’s Dream, and the recently released Psych 2: Lassie Come Home. She was also part of the series SEAL Team.
With more projects on her plate, Kristy Swanson continues to slay, maybe not as physically as her past suggests, but it’s nice to see her on the TV screen.