Mexican American actress Laura Elena Martinez Harring was born on March 3, 1964 in Sinaloa, Mexico. Her exotic good looks won her the coveted Miss USA crown in 1985, and she is the first Hispanic to gain the honor. The daughter of a Mexican psychotherapist and a German organic farmer, Harring spent her first ten years in Mexico, before the family relocated to San Antoni, Texas. She survived a stray bullet shot on the head when she was 12. When she turned 16, meanwhile, she went to Switzerland to study at Aiglon College. When she returned, it was then when she joined the world of beauty pageants and subsequently gained wide popularity. She even made it the top ten of the 1985 edition of Miss Universe.
While working as a social worker during her travels, Harring met Count Carl-Eduard von Bismack-Schonhausen, a German politician; they were married in 1987 but divorced in 1989, so Harring had to let go of her title of countess. The two reportedly remain friends. Harring went on to study theater at the London Academy of Performing Arts.
Early in her career, Harring had a string of recurring television roles, such as on the ABC soap General Hospital and the NBC soap Sunset Beach. She is best known, however, for the cult feature Mulholland Drive in 2001, where she co-starred with Naomi Watts and Justin Theroux. Her pixelized pubic area that was captured on the film’s DVD release caught controversy, but she went on to work two more times with Lynch in the 2002 film Rabbits and 2006’s Inland Empire.
In 2004, Harring played the character of John Travolta’s wife in the movie adaptation of The Punisher. Two years later, she was cast for the role of Becca Doyle on the FX police drama The Shield, an edgy, gripping crime drama that delves into the gritty world of inner-city Los Angeles and the harsh realities that accompany that world.