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See '80s Teen Idol Jami Gertz Now at 56

Would you be surprised to learn that she's actually a billionaire?

Jami Gertz was a fixture of the 1980s teen film scene, breaking out via roles in beloved big screen classics like The Lost Boys, Less Than Zero, and Sixteen Candles, as well as on the small screen in the iconic sitcom The Facts of Life and the quirky Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle, Square Pegs. Her time as a teen idol would ultimately propel her astounding heights and onto a surprising path. Read on to see where she is now at age 56.

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She is the richest actor in the world—by a lot.

Jami Gertz in 1989
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Being that she's not as ubiquitous onscreen as she was in the '80s, you may be surprised to learn that Gertz has an estimated net worth of $3 billion. That makes her the richest actor in the world, according to Newsweek, assuming you count Oprah Winfrey as a media mogul rather than a performer. Gertz is way ahead of competitors like Tom Cruise (a mere $570 million) and "King of Bollywood" Shah Rukh Khan ($600 million).

Her husband is a financier.

Jami Gertz and Tony Ressler in 1996
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In 1989, Gertz married Tony Ressler, a banker who would go on to found the highly successful private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Ares Management, two years after Gertz's publicist first introduced them to one another.

The couple raised three sons—Oliver, Nicholas, and Theo, in Beverly Park, a gated community in Los Angeles. Despite assumptions some may have, Gertz is quick to dispel any notions that she married the now-billionaire for money.

"Everyone thinks I married a rich guy," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. "But I made more money—way more money—than Tony when I met him. I paid for our first house. I paid for our first vacation. I married him because I fell in love with him."

She's still active in the entertainment business.

Jami Gertz in 2017
JB Lacroix/ WireImage

While she passed on the chance to play Rachel on Friends, Gertz continued to act throughout the '90s and 2000s, with a 1996 role in the film Twister, a notable turn on Seinfeld as Jerry's girlfriend Jane (who "can't spare a square" of toilet paper), and recurring parts on series including ER, Ally McBeal, Entourage, and Still Standing. From 2012 to 2014, she starred as Debbie Weaver in the Dan Fogelman series The Neighbors, about a family who moves to a New Jersey community filled with aliens. She most recently played Rita in the Charlie Day and Jenny Slate Amazon film I Want You Back.

Gertz has also tried her hand at producing, founding the Lime Orchard Production company with former agent Stacy Lubliner. They produced the 2011 film A Better Life, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for star Demián Bichir.

She's ​​part-owner of the Atlanta Hawks.

Jami Gertz in 2019
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

In 2015, a group led by Gertz's husband bought the Atlanta Hawks basketball team for nearly $850 million, making the couple the NBA franchise's principal owners and, according to THR, prompted their move to Atlanta. While Ressler oversaw a $192 million renovation of the State Farm Arena, Gertz became the public face of the team ownership, representing the Hawks at the draft lottery and often in front of the press, explaining that her own experience as a fan has led her push to improve the game experience for everyone.

"I know what it's like for people to buy a ticket," she said in 2020. "I bought tickets when I couldn't afford them. I worked hard enough where I could eventually become a season ticket holder. So, I'm coming from that fan experience being in L.A. and seeing where there was great food and then the food wasn't so good. All of those things. I care a ton about fan experience."

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She's aiming to make the world a better place, too.

Jami Gertz in 2019
Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

In 1997, Gertz and her husband founded the Ressler Gertz Family Foundation with the goal of supporting "an arts museum, education, Jewish organizations and temples, and health and human services," according to its profile in the Foundation Directory Online. In 2012, Gertz was named to a Forbes list of the most generous celebrities thanks to a large donation to the foundation. She has said her faith is part of what motivates this aspect of her life.

"It's in the teachings of Judaism, and tikkun olam, to make the world a better place—and that's certainly a part of our lives," she told Jewish Journal in 2011. "In my own philanthropic life, we're involved with 18 charter schools, mostly in low-income areas…We go into very difficult neighborhoods and we graduate kids. We begin in middle schools specifically because that's when gangs start to heavily recruit."

In 2020, the foundation announced a "long-term, comprehensive plan to provide financial, marketing and educational resources to Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the city of Atlanta in an effort to create greater economic opportunity in the Black community."

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Joel Cunningham
Joel Cunningham is a writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn. Read more
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