Although she gained the spotlight as the brassy, cynical hairdresser Gloria in the NBC series "Hope & Gloria," Jessica Lundy, in real life, was more like the Hope character, optimistic and a bit shy--although without the perkiness. Entertaining classmates in elementary school and her grandmother at home from the time she was eight, Lundy knew she wanted a career as a performer when she entered New York University. She teamed with classmate Alec Mapa to form a cabaret duo, and both were cast in small roles in the film "Bright Light, Big City" as a result. Lundy experienced her first on-screen kiss: with actress Kelly Preston in a bathroom as star Michael J Fox watched. Lundy's bigger film break came in 1988, when she was cast as Jackie Mason's nouveau riche daughter, Kate Hartounian, in the low comedy "Caddyshack II". She was also able to kiss a man on screen for the first time; Jonathan Silverman was the guy who won her heart.
Heading for Los Angeles in 1990, Lundy snagged the role of an obituary writer who teams with a detective to solve crimes in CBS' "Over My Dead Body" (1990-91). The series, which also starred Edward Woodward, was short-lived, but Lundy bounced back to co-star in the ABC series "Baby Talk " (1991-92) and as a member of the ensemble cast in CBS' "The Carol Burnett Show" (1991) revival. Both shows failed, as did "The Second Half" (NBC, 1993). But the network liked Lundy, and gave her one of the title roles in "Hope & Gloria", a midseason 1995 entry. Cast opposite Cynthia Stevenson's Hope, the ever optimistic associate producer of a local Pittsburgh TV talk show, Lundy was Gloria, twice married and divorced to the same man, who saw life with a sense of realism. The chemistry between the two women worked as audiences liked to see the two female buddies alternating between arguing, supporting each other, and crying on each other's shoulders. Some critics compared the effort to "Kate & Allie", or even the rapport between Mary and Rhoda on the older "Mary Tyler Moore Show". As a result of her work in "Hope & Gloria", Lundy was cast as Tom Arnold's wife in the feature comedy "The Stupids" (1996).