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Melissa Rauch's Tragic True Life Story

Like many performers, "Night Court" star Melissa Rauch was once an introvert. "I was a super shy, shy kid, so that was kind of my way of expressing myself — to mimic what I saw on TV," Rauch told Interview Magazine, adding, "I was a bit of a weird kid, but luckily my parents encouraged it." She said her parents sent her to theater camp, gave her a comedy club-themed bat mitzvah, and supported her desire to pursue an education and career in the performing arts.

Rauch prepared for her acting career at Marymount Manhattan College, where she studied musical theater and acting. After graduating, Rauch was a talking head on VH-1's "Best Week Ever" and eventually went to Hollywood. When Rauch joined the cast of "The Big Bang Theory," it changed her career trajectory and her life forever. If you had met Rauch when she was just a shy little girl living in Marlboro, New Jersey, you would have never believed the transformation that would take place as Rauch became an essential member of one of the most famous ensemble casts of the new millennium.

Although Rauch had landed other recurring television roles on smaller series before playing Bernadette, this breakthrough role made her a household name and it opened up opportunities she had previously only dreamed of. Despite landing a role on "The Big Bang Theory" and later "Night Court," Rauch's life hasn't always been easy. Stick with us as we explore her tragic true life story.

Melissa Rauch wasn't an overnight success

From waiting tables at Johnny Rocket's and passing out fliers for her stand-up comedy sets in Times Square, Melissa Rauch put in her time in the trenches. She experienced a whole lot of no's before she started landing regular work as an actress. After graduating college, Rauch took fate into her own hands and created opportunities for herself by co-writing a one-woman show, "The Miseducation of Jenna Bush," with her college writing partner, Winston Beigel. She later married Winston, who bucked tradition and became Mr. Rauch.

Rauch told NJ.com, "The exposure from VH1 definitely helped bring some attention to the one-woman show." They took the show on the road, traveling across the country. "We did it at the New York Fringe Festival and the Aspen Comedy Festival and then we brought it out to L.A.," Rauch told Interview Magazine. "Essentially, that's what brought me to Los Angeles and helped me to stop waiting tables for a bit."

The positive reception of her one-woman show helped Rauch get an agent, but that was just a first step in her long slog to becoming a series regular. "I don't think people knew what to do with me," Rauch told NJ.com in a separate interview. "I'd have people say maybe I should dye my hair, lose weight, gain weight — it was never a specific box you could check. ... And, of course, I was really green, too." Rauch said that in this early phase of her career, she didn't even know how to dress for auditions.

Melissa Rauch was in two series that were canceled during their first season

Getting a role is only part of the struggle as an actress in Hollywood. You could land a role in a pilot, but the series might not be picked up. The first series Melissa Rauch landed a recurring role in was the HBO series "12 Miles of Bad Road." Rauch was cast as Bethany and had the privilege of co-starring with comedy legend Lily Tomlin in three episodes of the series. Unfortunately, the series was axed during its first and only season after only six episodes.

After the disappointment of her first series being canceled, Rauch landed another recurring role on the American adaptation of "Kath & Kim," an American spin on a hit Australian sitcom about a very dysfunctional mother-daughter duo, played stateside by Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. Rauch was cast as Kim's best friend, Tina, and featured in six episodes of the series. Unfortunately, the series was canceled after only 17 episodes, leaving Rauch out of another job.

Having another series canceled must have been devastating for Rauch, but it freed her up to audition for the role that would change her life. During an interview on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Rauch explained she was at the unemployment office jumping through hoops to get her unemployment check when she got a callback for "The Big Bang Theory." Rauch said that she then had a difficult choice: it would be either her unemployment check or her callback. "I ended up going to the callback. Thank God," Rauch told Colbert.

Bernadette was initially only a one-episode guest appearance

Melissa Rauch was living off unemployment and the occasional acting paycheck when she auditioned to play Bernadette. "I was in between some failed pilots and shows that didn't get picked up, and so I was just excited to have a job for the week," Rauch told Gold Derby. Rauch said she didn't want to get her hopes up, but what was supposed to be a one-time thing quickly turned into something more. "It was such a dream come true," Rauch told Jennifer Hudson on "The Jennifer Hudson Show." "I was just supposed to be there for the week, and then they said I was going to do a couple more episodes."

A few episodes turned into something life-changing. "Once they started bringing me back more, I didn't know how long I was going to be there," Rauch told Xoop. "Then, I very vividly remember the first time that it was in the script and I was going to eat Chinese food with the cast," confirming Rauch had found her place on the series and in the group of friends it followed. Before "The Big Bang Theory" ended its run, Rauch reminisced about how she became a cast member. "There's not a day that goes by that I haven't been eternally grateful," Rauch told Parade. "They always say that you're one job away and it's so true."

Melissa Rauch became an advocate for equal pay

Despite the popularity of their characters, "The Big Bang Theory" stars Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik didn't make as much money per episode as the original cast members of the show. On the surface this makes sense — both actresses joined the series in Season 3, but once they were promoted to series regulars, their salaries didn't soar as their co-stars' had. Rauch and Bialik were reportedly making around $200,000 per episode, while their co-stars made a cool million.

Pay parity between male and female actors has been a hot-button issue for some time. Rauch and Bialik helped bring the issue to light in 2017 when they fought for raises during negotiations for the last two seasons of the series. "The issue of pay parity looms large in our industry," then-SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris told Variety in 2017. "I've seen it for years in my own career, but it was surprising in talking with members and people within the industry to see how pervasive it really is."

Although Rauch and Bialik didn't succeed in getting equal pay, their co-stars each took $100,000 pay cuts so Rauch and Bialik could make around $450,000 for each episode. This act proved their co-stars valued Rauch and Bialik's contributions to the ensemble cast and knew they played an important part in the popularity of the show. But the network's refusal to provide the raises themselves shows that pay parity in Hollywood is something that actors (and their unions) must continue to fight for.

Melissa Rauch was told not to star in The Bronze

When Melissa Rauch was shopping around the screenplay for "The Bronze," a sports drama-comedy she had co-written with her husband, Winston Rauch, some producers suggested they cast an actress with more film experience in the lead role. Rauch told Backstage that casting someone else as Hope would have "ripped my soul in half," so Rauch and her husband took a gamble and once again bet on themselves.

"We thought, sure, selling a script would be wonderful, but how else am I going to become 'more established in film' if I give away a role that was very much tailor-made for me to someone else?" Rauch shared during an interview with co-star Mayim Bialik for Kveller. "I could not help but think of Sylvester Stallone and how he held onto 'Rocky' when the same had been said to him." Rauch and her husband stuck it out and found a producer who wanted the actress to star in the comedy.

"The Bronze" explores competitive gymnastics and the ephemeral effects of small-town celebrity through a former bronze medalist, Hope Ann Greggory (Rauch), whose time in the spotlight vanished after an injury ended her career. Rauch and her husband explored the psychological effects of celebrity in their script while building a vehicle for Rauch to show her range. "Writing is the closest thing to making your own dreams come true," Rauch told Backstage. "It's such a great way to feel like you're not at the mercy of such a hard, hard industry."

While filming The Bronze, Melissa Rauch had a scary run-in with the police

While filming "The Bronze" in Ohio, Melissa Raunch and her husband, Winston Rauch, left the set one night when they were pulled over for speeding by the police. It quickly escalated into a scary situation. "We're lucky we got out," Rauch told Ellen DeGeneres on "The Ellen Show." "[Winston] reached into the backseat to grab the call sheet from where we worked to tell him that we were there doing a movie," Rauch said. She said the officer thought Winston was reaching for a weapon and ordered him to put his hands on the dashboard and asked Melissa to get out of the car.

The officer called for backup and asked Melissa if she was being kidnapped, but the scary traffic stop turned another corner when the officer lit up her face with his flashlight. He thankfully recognized Melissa from "The Big Bang Theory," and that recognition de-escalated the situation immediately. "And then all of a sudden they let us off, which was really great ... and they gave us a police escort to Friendly's." Although Melissa was able to share the story with the audience on "The Ellen Show" and laugh about it later, it must have been terrifying before she was recognized as Bernadette — and it could've ended horribly if she wasn't a famous actor.

Melissa Rauch experienced pregnancy loss

While starring in "The Big Bang Theory" Melissa Rauch experienced the pain of a miscarriage and struggled with her fertility. The actress only revealed her heartbreaking experience after she was pregnant again in a personal essay for Glamour. Rauch wrote, "During the time when I was grieving over my pregnancy loss or struggling with fertility issues, every joyful, expectant baby announcement felt like a tiny stab in the heart. It's not that I wasn't happy for these people, but I would think, Why are these shiny, carefree, fertile women so easily able to do what I cannot?"

Rauch suffered one of the most painful experiences of her lifetime in silence because miscarriages are something women have traditionally not spoken openly about. Even doctors advise against expectant mothers announcing their pregnancy too soon. When Rauch pondered how she would share her pregnancy with fans, it was important for her to acknowledge the loss that had preceded this pregnancy. Rauch wrote in Glamour, "It felt a bit disingenuous to not also share the struggle it took for me to get here."

Although Rauch wrote that she doesn't think anyone should feel pressured to share their personal struggles, she wrote that she couldn't help thinking about the women who had also experienced a miscarriage reading about her happy news and how that might make them feel as she had once felt. From this empathy and concern, Rauch bravely shared her pain in her Glamour essay.

Melissa Rauch experienced depression after the loss of her first pregnancy

After her miscarriage, Melissa Rauch said she experienced a bout of unrelenting depression. "The miscarriage I experienced was one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life. It kick-started a primal depression that lingered in me," Rauch wrote in Glamour. "The image of our baby on the ultrasound monitor—without movement, without a heartbeat—after we had seen that same little heart healthy and flickering just two weeks prior completely blindsided us and haunts me to this day."

Not only was Rauch mourning the loss of a child she had desperately wanted, but she also said her hormones were out of whack. "In addition to the intense grief, the hormonal drop-off is something I was not prepared for in the least. I wish I had known that this physiological response is an extremely prevalent and real component of pregnancy loss," Rauch wrote in Glamour. She wrote the essay to not only share her experiences with her miscarriage, but to hopefully reassure other women going through similar grief that they are not alone.

When Melissa Rauch got pregnant again she was afraid she would miscarry a second time

When Melissa Rauch got pregnant a second time, she said she was afraid she might miscarry again. Although this fear robbed joy from her early pregnancy, it also emboldened Rauch to write that personal essay for Glamour reflecting on her miscarriage. With this essay, the actress advocated for speaking openly about miscarriage — which became all the more relevant as Bernadette entered motherhood herself in "The Big Bang Theory" Season 10.

In her essay, Rauch wrote about how the stigma of pregnancy loss had a devastating effect on her ability to mourn and heal emotionally from her miscarriage. "What I realized, though, is that because this kind of loss is not openly talked about nearly as much as it should be, there really is no template for how to process these emotions," she wrote. Rauch's miscarriage and what happened after she shared about her loss inspired Rauch to team up with other celebrities to combat the stigma around talking about pregnancy loss.

They released a PSA during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month where many women shared their stories so others wouldn't feel so alone. In another essay for Glamour, Rauch shared why she made the video, stating, "I was so moved by how many people reached out to share stories of their loss and heartbreak. It was from this beautiful outpouring of openness, candor, and courage offered by all of these kindred spirits that I began to heal a part of me that I didn't know was still in need of repair."

Melissa Rauch gave birth to her second child during the pandemic

Melissa Rauch's second pregnancy wasn't without its challenges. Rauch said she spent much of her pregnancy worrying about how giving birth during a pandemic would play out. "In the weeks leading up to my due date, I had been so fearful of how this would all go down," Rauch wrote in Glamour. "I'd had good days where I'd felt optimistic—'I can do this!'—and other days of complete 'What kind of fresh hell are we living in?!' panic."

Rauch gave birth solo during the early days of the pandemic, while her husband Winston Rauch stayed home with their daughter because their family couldn't come to babysit as they had originally planned, because of the coronavirus pandemic. "I found comfort in the idea that this would be our first adventure together," Rauch wrote about her son in Glamour.

Despite her concerns about exposure to the virus, she said, the staff's diligent work set her mind at ease. "I will forever be in awe of our medical professionals on the front lines. My anxiety over being in a hospital melted away as each of them shared with me how hypervigilant they are in order to keep mamas and babies safe," Rauch wrote. Thankfully Rauch's husband was able to participate in the birth over FaceTime, and they welcomed a healthy baby boy to their family.

Melissa Rauch befriended a sick child and started a charity in his memory

Through her work on "The Big Bang Theory," Melissa Rauch connected with a young Irish fan, Oscar Keogh, who was suffering from a rare pediatric brain cancer known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG. Rauch became friends with the Keogh family and stayed in touch with Oscar throughout his illness through messages and videos.

When Oscar died at only 5 years old, Rauch and her husband co-founded an American chapter of Oscar's Kids to bring awareness to DIPG, raise funds for research, and help the children and families affected by the deadly illness. "By helping launch Oscar's Kids, I wanted to do something to honor his life and find a cure for this devastating disease," Rauch told People.

Although starting a nonprofit was completely out of her wheelhouse, Rauch rose to the challenge and tried to use her platform to do good. "As far as my background, and not having experience running a charity, the only thing I can authentically say is that I had the passion for becoming an advocate for this cause based on one of the most inspirational friendships in my life with Oscar Keogh's family," Rauch said in a statement (per Forbes). Donations to the charity go directly to research for cancer treatments.