From the bubbly blonde with starry blue eyes and those famous hot pants to being the most famous cocaine addict in Britain, Danniella Westbrook is no stranger to the attentions of the media. Born on 5 November 1973 in Walthamstow, the only daughter of Andy and Sue Westbrook, she knew that her life would be far from just ordinary.
As a young child Danniella dreamed of becoming a champion show jumper, but that all changed when she was just seven-years-old. For at that early age Westbrook entered into the world of show business dreaming a different dream; becoming the new Jodie Foster. She began her career as a child model, and the next few years saw her model children's fashionware in various catalogues, enter numerous beauty contests and, one of the highlights of her modelling career, become the face of the high street store Tammy Girl. It wasn't long before stage school beckoned in the form of The Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she attended weekend classes and later became a full-time student due to bullying at her local school.
Then on 19 July 1990 Westbrook became a household name as she appeared as her most famous character, Sam Mitchell, on the highly-praised and highly-watched BBC One soap opera: "EastEnders" (1985). The timing couldn't have been better as the sixteen-year-old had just been asked politely to leave school and the future was uncertain, but as she walked through the famous Albert Square in her quintessential costume consisting of a tight sweater and denim hotpants she knew that she had made it, and she knew that her life was about to change forever. Danniella's original stint on the classic soap opera came to an end just shy of three years, with her final scenes being aired on 4 February 1993. During this time Westbrook's character Sam had been involved in highly-publicised storylines, including a now-famous romance with mechanic Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen) which resulted in a teenage elopement to Gretna Green, as well as her aspirations to become a model, leading to a brief career in topless modelling and culminating in an affair with a yuppie that led to her downfall. Danniella had made the decision to quit "EastEnders" (1985), feeling that three years was enough to make her mark on television and the door was left open for her to return at any time.
Away from "EastEnders" (1985), Danniella's career was just beginning. She found herself inundated with modelling work, and was also given the opportunity to work on the TV series "Frank Stubbs Promotes" (1993), portraying a character completely opposite to Sam: moody teenager Dawn Dillon. Working with esteemed actors Timothy Spall and Lesley Sharp, the show was a success and proved that Westbrook had a future in acting outside of soap operas. Unfortunately the show was axed in 1994 after just two seasons, and Danniella decided to return to what she knew best: "EastEnders" (1985).
Danniella's return scenes, which saw Sam's brothers Phil (Steve McFadden) and Grant (Ross Kemp) find her in Spain working in a seedy club and bring her back home to Albert Square, were aired in July 1995. However Westbrook's second stint wasn't as fruitful as her original. Behind the cameras Danniella's private life had begun to spiral out of control due to her addiction to cocaine. She had started taking cocaine before she had even entered "EastEnders" (1985) the first time, but by now it was starting to take its toll on the pretty young actress and her work suffered extremely. Eventually a decision by the producers was reached; to terminate Westbrook's one-year contract early. Danniella's exit scenes, where she left Albert Square for Spain with her new Spanish boyfriend Guillermo, were aired in March 1996 and her eight months in the soap had seen her involved in a love triangle with ex-husband Ricky and new girlfriend Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer), as well as have a relationship with Bianca's father David Wicks (Michael French), and cause plenty of trouble for the Mitchell family. Once again the door was left open for her to return. However Danniella was facing a new role in her life: motherhood.
On 23 November 1996, Danniella gave birth to her beloved son Kai. Unfortunately, however, it wasn't the incentive to give up on cocaine like her family and friends had hoped. During her pregnancy she had used as much as five grams of cocaine per day, and it was a miracle that the child had survived and not been left with any disability. She took a hiatus from her acting career to raise her son, taking on a few modelling jobs in order to keep them afloat, but her cocaine addiction was spiralling out of control. Prior to her pregnancy she had spent a week in The Priory, leaving because she felt that she wasn't an addict. After constant drug abuse she was given an opportunity to redeem herself when "EastEnders" (1985) asked her back for a third stint, and Sam was once again seen returning to Albert Square, this time on our screens in July 1999. However Danniella was keeping another secret from the public. Her cocaine abuse throughout the years had caused her septum to disintegrate, leaving her with one gaping nostril instead of two. Once discovered by the press at The British Soap Awards, the producers had no choice but to axe Sam again before her one-year contract and in January 2000 her last scenes, which saw Sam live with her friend in South London, were aired and two years later Sam was recast with actress Kim Medcalf in the role.
By this time Danniella was in serious need of help. She had alienated all family and friends, and was now living with her son in a flat above a social club, followed by a brief stint in a half-way hostel. She had lost her looks, and was reduced to doing an odd shift in the social club where she would be jeered at by punters. But one man had faith in her: her boyfriend Kevin Jenkins. The businessman, and former alcoholic, sought out the help Danniella needed and she attended a rehabilitation centre in Arizona whilst pregnant with their child. After spending months there she came out finally clean and prepared for motherhood again. However heartbreak was to follow as the world became aware of her antics and her son was taken into care. After a few months apart Danniella was finally reunited with her son, and she later gave birth to her daughter Jodie on 5 September 2001.
The recovering drug addict then forged herself a career in television presenting following a disastrous stint on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" (2002) in 2003. For the next three years she presented various shows, such as ones discussing cosmetic surgery, before again taking a hiatus in 2006 in order to write her groundbreaking autobiography The Other Side of Nowhere, which was released in April 2006. Danniella then continued to raise her family before being given the chance of redemption: to return as Sam Mitchell and finish her story on "EastEnders" (1985). Convinced that she would never again portray her beloved Sam after the recast, Westbrook took the opportunity with both hands and, after nearly 10 years off screen, her returning scenes were aired on 4 September 2009.
However, Danniella's time in the spotlight was not over yet. From January to March 2010 the "EastEnders" (1985) star was seen competing against thirteen other celebrities in the hit reality TV show "Dancing on Ice" (2006/I). Danniella, who didn't expect to make it past the first round, became a favourite to win and even topped the leader boards in Week 10 after a raunchy secretary dance routine on the ice. However she was eliminated in the semi-final after facing a skate-off with "The Bill" (1984) favourite Gary Lucy.
|Kevin Jenkins||(27 December 2001 - present) 1 child|
|Ben Morgan||(October 1998 - July 1999) (divorced)|
During her marriage to Ben Morgan she used the name Danniella Morgan.
Gave birth to her son Kai Jordan Westbrook, with boyfriend Robert Fernandez (23 November 1996).
Daughter of Andrew and Susan (née Maynard) Westbrook. Her father works as a carpet contractor whilst her mother is a shop assistant.
Has an older half-brother Justin Drew (b. 1970) from her father's previous marriage as well as a younger brother, Andrew Jay (b. 1981). She also has a half-sister Georgia Elizabeth (b. 1997) from her father's third marriage.
Attended The Sylvia Young Theatre School (1981-1989).
Began modelling at the age of 7 for the supermarket Asda, before going on to model children's fashionware in Next catalogues and then become the face of high street store "Tammy Girl".
Released her autobiography, "The Other Side Of Nowhere" (April 2006).
Struggled with cocaine addiction from 1988 to 2001, resulting in her spending time in rehab in order to beat her addiction.
Was in a relationship with pop singer Brian Harvey (1991-1995).
Married van driver Ben Morgan after being together just 8 weeks. During their marriage they lived in Australia.
Was involved in a car accident with boyfriend Robert Fernandez. Sustained severe facial injuries and a dislocated eye, but had no long-term or major disfigurement due to corrective surgery (1998).
Has a daughter, Jodie B. Jenkins, with second husband millionaire businessman Kevin Jenkins, born 5 September 2001.
Participated in the 2nd series of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" (2002) in 2003, but finished 9th after quitting the show because she missed her children.
Had breast implants in 2000 after the birth of her son caused her breasts to decrease in size. However in 2002 she had to undergo emergency corrective surgery when one of her saline implants ruptured.
Was given the nickname Winkle by her father Andy at an early age.
Lived with a family friend for months along with her brother when she was 13 because her mother was suffering from cervical cancer and had to have a hysterectomy.
Her favourite actress is Jodie Foster.
Had to deliver her daughter Jodie via emergency Caesarean section as she was in a difficult position in the womb.
Is one of 8 "EastEnders" (1985) actors to compete in "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" (2002). The others, in chronological order, are Sid Owen (Ricky Butcher), Elaine Lordan (Lynne Hobbs), Dean Gaffney (Robbie Jackson), Marc Bannerman (Gianni di Marco), Joe Swash (Mickey Miller), Lucy Benjamin (Lisa Fowler) and Charlie Brooks (Janine Butcher). As of 2009 she and Elaine Lordan are the only 2 to have quit the show.
Is one of 8 "EastEnders" (1985) actors to compete on "Dancing on Ice" (2006/I). The others, in chronological order, are Gemma Bissix (Clare Bates), Todd Carty (Mark Fowler), Bobby Davro (Vinnie Monks), Nadia Sawalha (Annie Palmer), Sam Attwater (Leon Small), Laila Morse (Mo Harris) and Matt Lapinskas (Anthony Moon).
Her "EastEnders" (1985) character Sam Mitchell became the 22nd woman on the soap opera to give birth. Sam had a son Richard (played by an unknown baby), born on 1 September 2010.
Took a 3-year hiatus from acting between 2010 and 2013 in order to run a pet grooming business with her husband in Los Angeles, California.
Ranked #37 in the 100 Greatest "EastEnders" (1985) Characters of All Time for her performance as Sam Mitchell (2010).
(November 2002) Living in Sevenoaks, England
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