You may best remember American actress Melissa Rauch as playing the character Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory.
What you probably didn’t know is that Rauch is a triple threat. She’s not just an actress, but a model and comedian as well. What has she been up to since the show ended in 2019?
Rauch was born on June 23rd, 1980, to parents Susan and David Rauch, a Jewish family who lived in Marlboro Township, New Jersey. Additionally, the actress has a younger brother, Ben Rauch.
In a quote from IMDb, Rauch stated, “I knew from a young age that I wanted to perform. I went to an arts camp called Brookdale Arts Camp, in New Jersey, from the time I was 6, and then I was a counselor there through high school.”
Her interest in acting further developed while attending Marlboro High School. Her Bat Mitzvah even had a “Comedy Club” theme. Rauch attended Marymount Manhattan College, where she graduated with a BFA in 2002.
During her higher education, Melissa performed stand-up comedy in Manhattan, and soon made a name for herself in the comedy scene of NYC. She had a one-woman show, "The Miss Education of Jenna Bush”, portraying Jenna Bush Hager, the former President’s daughter. The show received much acclaim from critics and audiences, many of her shows even sold-out.
Some of Rauch’s earliest work was on the Best Week Ever VH1 television show. She appeared in a number of films, including Delirious, I Love You, Man, and The Condom Killer, before landing a role on the hit CBS comedy, The Big Bang Theory.
In addition to these films, Rauch appeared as recurring characters in a variety of television shows such as the sitcom Kath & Kim, horror drama True Blood, and even the children’s animated series Sofia the First.
The Big Bang Theory
Arguably Rauch’s most notable role was as the intelligent yet intimidating Bernadette Maryann Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
Bernadette becomes a love interest to main character Howard Wolowitz, and the pair eventually marry, have two children together, and move into Howard’s childhood home throughout the series.
First introduced in season 2, Rauch’s character made appearances in 209 episodes throughout the series, becoming a regular in the show alongside Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyer, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons.
Bernadette can be described as a short-tempered, ruthless, manipulative and often competitive young woman with a high pitched voice.
Despite her height, she is seen as intimidating, largely due to her sharpness, aggressive demeanor, and occasional signs of mania.
Getting the role
When auditioning for the role, Rauch stated the outfit she wore to the audition essentially became the template for her character’s costume.
Rauch revealed that she added a pair of glasses to her portrayal of Bernadette in her audition, setting herself apart from the numerous actors auditioning for the role.
"I wore glasses, even though it didn’t say Bernadette wore glasses," Rauch recalled. "There were so many girls auditioning, so I thought, I need to do something a little different.”
The writers appreciated this seemingly miniscule prop so much in her audition, that it became a staple to her character within the television series.
While Bernadette appears as one of the main recurring characters on The Big Bang Theory, many fans had negative emotions about the way her character changed and progressed over the seasons.
On a Reddit page, fans stated that “She was such a good character and she was so nice but after she got married she just nosedived outta nowhere.” Many referred to the character as a ‘bitch’, stating that she treats Howard terribly. One fan even stated that the character had no redeeming qualities.
As a supporting character Melissa started off making $40,000 per episode. After being installed as a series regular, she negotiated to $175,000 per episode and for the last two seasons she was able to command $425,000 per episode, with the help of her costars, who took $100,000 pay cuts to bump up her and Mayim Bialik’s salary.
The main five actors, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, were reportedly making $900,000 an episode during the last two seasons.
What did she do after The Big Bang Theory?
Throughout and after her time on The Big Bang Theory, Rauch continued to make appearances in films Are You Here, The Laundromat, and even voice acted the role of Harley Quinn in the 2017 Batman and Harley Quinn animated movie.
She also acted in The Bronze, a 2016 film for which she also acted as an executive producer and writer. The movie is very loosely inspired by the life of Tonya Harding.
Where is Melissa Rauch now?
Rauch can still be seen acting in a variety of movies and television. One of her most exciting upcoming star roles will be that of Judge Abby Stone, in the reboot of the hit NBC sitcom Night Court.
The series is set to air sometime during the 2022-23 television season and will feature John Larroquette reprising his role as Dan Fielding, although fan favorite Richard Moll will not be reprising his character.
In addition to her acting career, Rauch has developed a noteworthy interest in charities. She is the cofounder and a constant advocate for Oscar’s Kids, a National Childhood Cancer Charity dedicated to benefit and support the thousands of children diagnosed with cancer across the nation each year.
Rauch has been married to Winston Beigel, an American screenwriter, director and producer, since 2007.
Beigel has been alongside Rauch all throughout her career, supporting and even teaming up with her at times to help fulfill some of her incredible achievements. He is also involved with the Oscar’s Kids charity.
While the couple has two children together, Sadie and Brooks Rauch, their personal journey of having children was not easy. Before becoming pregnant with her first child, Rauch struggled with fertility issues and opened up about her experiences with a miscarriage, which she described as resulting in "one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life."
Despite being overjoyed about her pregnancy, Rauch was terrified and hesitant to announce the information regarding her pregnancy status, due to her previous traumatic experiences with this miscarriage. Thankfully, she gave birth to her healthy baby girl Sadie in 2017.
Just two years later, Rauch became pregnant with her second child Brooks, however this experience was scary for her in a completely different way. Due to the global pandemic, Rauch ended up giving birth to the baby boy alone. While the hospital allowed partners, Beigel was unable to attend as he had to watch their daughter.
Rauch shared powerful words to mother’s going through similar experiences during the pandemic.
“You are not alone. All of us … are in this together. Just as I reminded myself, you can do this, you will do this, and you will do so with the fierceness of all the powerful warrior women before you who have brought life — and hope — into this world during the most unfathomable of times."