|Born:||7 May 1954|
Heckerling was born in The Bronx to a bookkeeper mother and a certified public accountant father. She attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and studied film at New York University, where one of her teachers was noted screenwriter and satirist Terry Southern. She received her master's degree from the AFI Conservatory. She was once engaged to actor Bronson Pinchot.
Heckerling's first film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), about Los Angeles teenagers, was praised for the strong female characters played by Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and others. (The film also led to a short-lived series on CBS in the 1985-1986 season called Fast Times, which Heckerling produced.) Heckerling's next film was a parody of gangster films, Johnny Dangerously (1984), starring Michael Keaton, Marilu Henner, and Joe Piscopo, with fast talking characters familiar from 1930s screwball comedy. She directed the second of the Vacation films, National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) with Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo.
She again had a massive hit with Look Who's Talking (1989), which starred John Travolta and Kirstie Alley raising a baby voiced by Bruce Willis. Many critics panned it, but it pleased audiences enough to warrant two sequels, the first of which (1990's Look Who's Talking Too) Heckerling also directed.
Heckerling wrote and directed an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, putting the story in another fictional Los Angeles high school, to produce Clueless (1995). In addition to making Alicia Silverstone a star, it was another box office hit. Many considered the film a "turn of the century" rarity for its new fashion innovation of plaid, knee-high socks, and pastel colors; and also for its up and coming technology showcasing the wide use of cellular phones and pagers, which in 1995, were mostly used by the rich and not the common folk. It would be another five years before Heckerling produced Loser (2000), a romantic college comedy with Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari. It was not successful at the box office.
Heckerling's most recent project was the romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd, which did not receive a theatrical release in the United States. Heckerling also directed an early episode of the NBC version of The Office.