Alyson Lee Hannigan was born on March 24, 1974, in Washington, D.C. An only child, she started performing young, doing commercials when she was 4. At age 11, she relocated with her mother to Hollywood, continuing her schooling while auditioning – and later getting a degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge. She also worked for actor-comedian Bob Saget as a babysitter.
The 1988 movie “My Stepmother Is an Alien” marked Hannigan’s first significant acting job, and she followed that with her first television series, “Free Spirit.” Eight years later, she began a much longer job – and an iconic one – for seven seasons as Willow Rosenberg on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a show that still has a sizable following long after its run ended. Hannigan also crossed over to the “Buffy” spinoff “Angel” in several episodes.
The “American Pie” movie-comedy series was successful for Hannigan and a host of others including Jason Biggs, Chris Klein and Tara Reid. Hannigan also appeared with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Claire Forlani in the film “Boys and Girls.” In 2004, Hannigan starred with the late Luke Perry in a London stage version of “When Harry Met Sally ... . ”
After appearing on “Veronica Mars” during its original run, Hannigan started a show that ultimately ran longer than “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” did for her: the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” which lasted nine seasons and still remains a staple of syndication. Hannigan won a Teen Choice Award in 2009 for “Mother” as favorite TV comedy actress.
Lately, Hannigan’s main TV exposure has come from a job that was something of a surprise when it first was announced: host of The CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” on which the title illusionist-comedians try to guess how other magicians do their acts ... with those who succeed in fooling the duo landing spots in Penn & Teller’s Las Vegas show. Hannigan also will be seen soon in Lifetime’s true drama “Abducted: The Mary Stauffer Story.”
Hannigan is married to fellow “Angel” acting alum Alexis Denisof, and they have two daughters.