An athletic, appealing performer who decided at the age of nine that she wanted to be an actress, Kristy Swanson had racked up some 30 TV commercial credits by the age of 15. In 1986, she made her feature debut in the John Hughes-produced "Pretty in Pink" and also appeared in Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" before essaying her first lead as the girl next door brought back to life a la Frankenstein in Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend." After landing a key role in the film version of V C Andrews' classic horror novel "Flowers in the Attic" (1987), Swanson segued to TV, playing the recurring part of Jody Campbell on "Knots Landing" (CBS) during the 1987-88 season, followed by turns as Lynn Ellingsworth in two 1989 installments of "B.L. Stryker" (aired under the umbrella of "The ABC Mystery Movie"). She had her first shot at series stardom portraying student nurse Rebecca Halliday in the short-lived Aaron Spelling-produced "Nightingales" (NBC, 1989). When small screen stardom eluded her, Swanson once again returned to features as the female lead of "Mannequin 2: On the Move" (1991), but the choice to play a medieval peasant trapped in the body of a mannequin proved embarrassing. Her career received a big boost, albeit delayed, as the Valley Girl title character of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992). Despite her engaging, exuberant performance and quirky turns from the likes of Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman), future Oscar-winner Hilary Swank and Rutger Hauer, the film failed to perform at the box office. But fans discovered its young star when the picture became a hot video rental, helping to spawn the highly successful TV series version. She put her athleticism to good use as a calm, cool tennis star in "The Program" (1993) and starred as a millionaire's daughter taken hostage by an innocent man (Charlie Sheen) on the run in "The Chase" (1994), though director John Singleton showed her to better effect in that year's "Higher Learning," as a naive college freshman coming to terms with her burgeoning homosexuality. Swanson also snagged the female lead of Diana Palmer to Billy Zane's "The Phantom" (1996), in the tepid adventure thriller based on the popular comic strip but was outshone by villainess Catherine Zeta-Jones.