Once Popular Stars Who Now Make A Living With Hallmark Movies
The Hallmark Channel is the blessed mecca of family traditions and romances so sappy, they leave you practically bleeding molasses. Known primarily for cookie-cutter Christmas flicks, Hallmark loves the story of heartbroken Noelle, who flees the big city to her hometown with a predictably kitschy name (e.g., Garland, Alaska, because Christmas — get it?). Sometimes, they throw in a dead spouse or a mystery of some kind. But generally, Noelle meets a statuesque but aimless man with a heart of gold, and, well, you know where it goes from there, right? And there’s usually a dog. But make no mistake, the real stars of these made-for-TV films are all gleefully aboard the Yuletide train.
Hallmark remains a cheerful (read: lucrative) home for famed 90s stars, including Emmy-winning hotshot Kristin Chenoweth, Kristin Davis, and William Shatner. Even a pre-royal Meghan Markle once gifted herself a super sweet Hallmark paycheck. According to Country Living, a merry Blake Shelton also found TV’s North Pole by creating and producing three flicks for the network, including Time For Me To Come Home, Time For You To Come Home, and — you guessed it – Time For Us To Come Home. Simple is as simple does. But below are Hallmark’s ride-or-dies who are making it rain year-round.
Hallmark's Hearties still love Lori Loughlin
You probably remember Lori Loughlin as aunt Becky from the nostalgia-drenched series Full House. She played career-driven Rebecca Katsopolis on the sitcom before finding a forever home on the Hallmark channel in 2010. But her Hallmark cash-cow was the role of Abigail Stanton on the network’s series When Calls The Heart. “I love everyone I work with. We have a real family, ” Loughlin told Us Weekly of the show, adding, “I love the fact that it’s the same cast and crew … I feel very blessed.”
But the love-fest was interrupted in early 2019, when Loughlin and her husband, Target fashion fixture Mossimo Giannulli, were implicated in the college admissions scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues. They allegedly paid scam orchestrator Rick Singer $500,000 for guaranteed admissions to the school of their choice for their daughters, or as the federal government called it: “conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud” (per Axios). After striking a plea deal, Loughlin and Giannulli each paid fines and served some time behind bars.
Luckily for Loughlin, her co-stars and Hallmark fan club, known as “Hearties,” have not been the same since beloved Abigail got written off the show, and enthusiastically await her return. Show creator Brian Bird is even seemingly on board, telling From the Desk, “Hope Valley is a place of second chances.” Additionally, even after all the legal woes, Loughlin is still loaded. Variety reported the actor “downsized” to a Hidden Hills mansion worth $9.5 million in August 2020.
It's always Christmas for Lacey Chabert thanks to Hallmark
Lacey Chabert and holiday Hallmark movies go together like burnt gingerbread men and spiked eggnog; there could not be a more harmonious union. It all started when the former Party of Five-r landed a leading role in everyone’s favorite cry-me-a-river weeknight drama. From there, Chabert made the leap to the big screen with Lost in Space, Not Another Teen Movie, and as legendary Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls.
But it was in 2010 when Chabert solidified her fate as the queen of Hallmark when she signed on as Liberty Taylor in Elevator Girl. The starlet has since taken on more Hannahs, Sarahs, and Angelas than your human resources department, clocking in at over 20 Crown Media productions, as of this writing. So fetch.
The Christmas Waltz actor told Southern Living it’s the holiday spirit that sends her splintering off into a frenzy of Hallmark fa-la-la-la-las. “I genuinely love Christmas and anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty Christmas obsessed,” she said, adding, “I like to draw it out as long as possible, so it makes sense that I would enjoy making these movies.” Chabert’s bank account must love Hallmark, too, as the star boasts an estimated $4 million net worth. And she’s not shy about playing Mrs. Claus for herself, stuffing her own stocking with goodies including Christian Louboutin shoes, Gucci Bloom perfume, and house-call massages.
Tamera Mowry-Housley is making diverse moves at Hallmark
Tamera Mowry-Housley is living her dream life atop a Napa Valley vineyard, complete with mesmerizing countryside views even Drake would covet. Just how posh is the space? People described it like so: “The finished house has a sprawling family kitchen, impressive pool terrace (with an outdoor pizza oven!) and of course, a 400-bottle wine cellar.” Of course!
The Real co-host first dazzled us as half the sassy duo from the ’90s hit comedy, Sister, Sister. But it was in 2012 when the actor made her way to the Hallmark scene as Daphne Conroy in Christmas Angel, and not a moment too soon. While we love how Hallmark exudes glass half-full optimism, the brand is as blonde as your skinny, extra vanilla, latte.
Mowry-Housley told Oprah Daily that she’s grateful the family network “[allows her] to bring diversity to the channel.” She continued, “It’s different when you’re seeing someone on the screen, and they actually look like you, and they’re achieving what you want to achieve. You feel inspired. You feel like if she can do it, I can do it.” The Christmas Comes Twice actor was even given free rein from Hallmark to get behind the film as producer. “When you have a dream of playing a certain role or wanting a film to tell a certain story, it’s amazing. It’s on a whole other level when you are creatively in control of that,” she told the outlet.
Candace Cameron Bure will have you know Hallmark is harder than it looks
Every time Candace Cameron Bure makes a Hallmark movie, an angel falls in love with a small-town lad named Chad. We’ll explain. Bure is a walking billboard for childhood starlets who came out on top. She emerged as everyone’s favorite all-American girl and eldest sister, DJ Tanner, on Full House, and later reprised the role for Netflix’s revival, Fuller House. And considering Bure has stashed away a tidy $14 million, the Christmas Town actor seems to still be at the top of her game.
Amid the Full House/Fuller House saga, Bure found her spotlight as reigning Hallmark siren, boasting a causal 26 films for the family network, as of this writing, nine of which have been Christmas films. But don’t be mistaken. Bure doesn’t look at her Hallmark success as anything but hard-earned. “Can we just talk about this for a second? I get that all the time: ‘How hard is it to be in a Hallmark movie?’ Like, ‘Can I be in a Hallmark movie?'” Bure said on the Paula Faris Podcast. “And I’m like, ‘Are you a professional actor?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then no, you cannot. You can be a background person, they’re called extras.” Have mercy!
Hallmark literally saved Cameron Mathison's life
Canadian actor Cameron Mathison landed his career-making gig in 1998 on All My Children as Ryan Lavery. The role earned him the Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Male Newcomer, as well as Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2002 and 2005. He then volleyed contributor and hosting gigs on Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, before basically pushing all his chips in with the Hallmark channel. To date, he’s not only starred in countless films for the network, but he’s also co-hosted nearly 500 episodes of the chat show, Home & Family. The bet paid off, as the quintessential leading man is worth an estimated $10 million.
But Hallmark not only helped make Mathison rich, it also literally saved his life. In September 2019, Mathison announced he was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma, but caught it soon enough thanks to a Hallmark role. The actor told ET, “It was on this movie, that I was like, ‘[The Christmas Club] is about following the signs and really paying attention and being mindful.’ I came off this movie [thinking], ‘I’m not going to ignore this anymore. That’s what inspired me to go get a doctor’s recommendation to get an MRI.”
After undergoing surgery, Mathison was declared “cancer free” in November 2019, as he shared with Coping. And in case you thought we exaggerated how grateful he is to the network, he also told ET, “See? These Hallmark Christmas movies are more powerful than you know.”
Hallmark helps Holly Robinson Peete travel the world
Holly Robinson Peete first started turning heads in 1987 as Officer Judy Hoffs in 21 Jump Street, opposite Johnny Depp. She went on to shine in Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, For Your Love, and Mike and Molly. Then Peete sashayed onto the Hallmark channel, starring in films including A Family Christmas Gift and The Christmas Doctor, the latter of which required some steamy scenes with co-star Adrien Holmes. Making bank and getting to make out with a hot co-star? Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
When Peete was asked about COVID-19 kissing safety procedures, the actor told Today she was able to maintain her health but not the romance. “They’ve taken it to another level of uncomfortable and awkward,” she explained. “So you have to just drink all these … concoctions and gargle for a certain amount of time, then each of us have our spit buckets so that’s really romantic…”
While that’s gross, you won’t spit at Robinson Peete’s estimated net worth of $4 million, which she told The Travel Mom she spends on traveling around the world with her family to places including Vietnam, Cambodia, South Africa and Indonesia. “One of my favorite places— destination in the world is Bali, Indonesia,” she said. Go ahead and Priceline yourself a Bali trip, folks. It’s not cheap.
Danica McKellar brings the brains to Hallmark
Danica McKellar warmed the hearts of American families everywhere as girl-next-door Winnie Cooper on the 80s/90s classic The Wonder Years. McKellar continued to thrive in Hollywood through her teenage and adult life, eventually landing in the Hallmark-sphere. Of the wholesome network, the Perfect Match actor told Today, “They are just so good-natured. They tell good stories about good people, and yes, they provide an escape from our crazy world, but more than that they remind us that we can be better, and they remind us to connect with each other, and they remind us the importance of family and traditions, and I just love helping to spread that in the world.”
But what you may not know is this smarty-pants has been living a double life as Mrs. Math-Wiz. While shining across silver screens, the Crown For Christmas star also earned herself a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from UCLA, and contributed to a scientific theorem with her professor, Lincoln Chayes, and another student. Chayes later told The New York Times, “I thought that the two were really, really first rate.”
In addition to her screen work, the Love and Sunshine actor penned a stealth eight math books on her own, including Kiss My Math, and Math Doesn’t Suck. So that all means — yep, math pun incoming —McKellar has multiplied her paper to a suave $4 million. Mathletes finish first.
Jesse Metcalfe earns big bucks as the Jackie Chan of Hallmark
Jesse Metcalfe has proven to be talented in a plethora of fields and is certainly enjoying a lucrative payoff as a result. Utilizing his estimated $12 million net worth, the actor spends some of his dough on motorcycles and luxury cars.
We know Jesse Metcalfe as naughty hottie John Rowland on the original Desperate Housewives, the pretty pool boy who stirred newfound desire in real housewives everywhere. Then Metcalfe melted more age-appropriate hearts in his feature film debut, John Tucker Must Die. From there, The Ninth Passenger actor starred in several other movies Netflix recommended to you no less than 500 times before crossing over to Hallmark.
In A Beautiful Place To Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Metcalfe gets pretty physical in some fight scenes, because as it turns out, not only has the Dallas star aged like a fine wine, he’s been roughhousing as a martial arts fighter for years — a skill that conveniently contributed to his acting chops. Metcalfe told Hallmark’s Home & Family, “I try to do as many of my own stunts as possible, you know, because I feel as though you can tell when it’s a stunt double. It takes you out of the story.” Metcalfe was especially proud of this project, because he signed on as a producer as well, which he said allowed him to “be really hands-on in the creative.”
Jodie Sweetin went from hard drugs to Hallmark
Jodie Sweetin was all of us when she didn’t know what to do with her afternoons once Full House ended in 1995. Unfortunately, the star turned to toxic party favors, including alcohol, heroin, ecstasy, and cocaine. According to E!‘s recap of Sweetin’s memoir, unSweetined, the Fuller House star began drinking as “a young teen,” which “set her on a destructive course” that landed her “in and out of 12-step programs and rehab throughout her late teens and 20s while battling drug and alcohol abuse.”
But Sweetin got clean, had some kiddos, and fell into the open arms of the Hallmark channel. As of this writing, the actor has starred in five Hallmark movies and is back to loving life and goofing off on set. “I am just now able to enjoy the person I am, faults and all. I can laugh at the darkest, sort of most upsetting times in my life,’ she told Complex in 2016.
Her Fuller House co-stars later vouced for Sweetin’s revived playful demeanor on Ellen DeGeneres’ Show Me More Show when they voted her most likely to be the one to dance and curse on set. But there’s a lot to dance about! Sweetin, who boasts an estimated $2 million in the bank, shared an IG snap of the new Benz she scooped up in 2018, saying it was her first “new car in about 17 years,” and was the product of “several years of working [her] a** off.”
Rachael Leigh Cook followed her heart to Hallmark
Not one of us escaped the 90s without catching lovable art nerd Laney Boggs getting whisked off her easel by suave high school jock Zachary Siles in the teenage flick She’s All That. Sure, the plot was painstakingly predictable but still had the ingredients of a warm and fuzzy rom-com, which has always been important to Rachael Leigh Cook. And although Cook will return for the She’s All That gender-swap remake, He’s All That, the star has found a true home at lovey-dovey Hallmark.
“[The Hallmark Channel] have been incredible partners to me and so supportive,” Cook told Collider. “I love working in the feel-good space, you know? I spent many years trying to be cool and make edgy content that I thought would make people sort of stand up and take notice of me, but it wasn’t until I sort of followed my heart’s desire and my true intention that I think I started really to feel like I had greater control or say-so over the way my projects were gonna go.”
The Love, Guaranteed star has wrapped seven movies with the network, as of this writing. Another added benefit? “It is possible to make a movie in 15 days. I’ve done it many times now,” Cook told Collider of the network’s “efficient” production pace. The hustle has paid off for Cook, who listed her stunning Studio City home for $4.295 million in September 2020, per the LA Times.
Dean Cain landed happily ever after in Hallmark
Clark Kent, Superman, Hallmark hero — whatever you call him, Dean Cain is the guy who gives your grandmother twinges she hasn’t felt since the Kennedy administration. But this wasn’t how the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! host planned it. After graduating from Princeton in 1988, the athlete even briefly joined the roster of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
But fate had other plans, and a knee injury that ended his athletic career prematurely. Cain told Coffey Talk in 2012, “I enjoy acting — I never knew that I was going to be an actor for certain. I thought about it when I was in college. I was like, you know, that’s what I’m gonna do after I finish playing pro football. Well, I played pro football for about half an hour. Then I got injured and that was the end so you know you’re constantly changing.”
Cain turned his sights to Hollywood and put that pretty face to work in Beverly Hills, 90210, Rat Race, and as Scott Peterson in The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story. Cue chills down the spine. And wouldn’t you know it, The Winter’s Dream star touched down in the land of Hallmark, scoring 15 films with the network, as of this writing, which have contributed to his heroic $6 million estimated net worth. “I’m very happy where life has brought me thus far,” Cain told Coffey Talk, adding “We’ll see where it goes from here.” We’re guessing more Hallmark?
Alison Sweeney is doing circles around the rest of us
You’ll remember Alison Sweeney as badie Sami Brady on Days Of Our Lives. She then left the soap world to showcase her hosting skills on The Biggest Loser in 2007, and began starring in and producing Hallmark films in 2013. What else, you ask? Sweeney got married, had two children, penned three novels, a memoir, a health book, and told Ellen she completed a triathlon. Sheesh! Does she even have time to check her bank balance? If she did, she’d be happy to see there’s a cool $9 million in there thanks to all that grinding.
“Discipline and work ethic was always instilled in me as a kid,” Sweeney told Closer Weekly. “I was really lucky to have rock-solid parents who helped me through the industry and didn’t pressure me to do it. It was my choice, and I always wanted to be a part of telling the story behind the scenes.”
The Irresistible Blueberry Farm star told Home & Family the title of her book, Opportunity Knocks, is the mindset she lives by. “I believe in taking opportunities when they come your way … I would hate to look back on my life with regret, like ‘Oh, I wish I’d tried this,’ and so when I look at things that come my way, there’s a fork in the road, I always sort of try to think that, like what chance can I take?”
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