Swanson started in TV advertising roles, and went on to make several one-off appearances in TV series such as Cagney and Lacey and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1986, she debuted on the big screen in two John Hughes films: Pretty In Pink, in a non-speaking role, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off as a character who announces a convoluted excuse for Ferris' absence in class. Her first starring role was later in 1986, in Wes Craven's Deadly Friend. The next year she played Cathy in the adaptation of V. C. Andrews' best-seller Flowers in the Attic.
By 1990, Kristy Swanson had made many television appearances, including multiple appearances in Knots Landing (1987-1988), Nightingales (1989), her first starring role in a TV series, although it only lasted a season, and a short-lived Burt Reynolds vehicle called B.L. Stryker (1989).
Throughout the 90's she centered mostly in films. She played the title role in the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was a box office bomb but had a profitable rental life. She appeared in both starring and supporting roles in movies such as Hot Shots!, The Program, The Chase, or her most critically acclaimed role, that of Kristen Connor, a student discovering her sexuality in John Singleton's Higher Learning. She also appeared in the film adaptation of the comic-book The Phantom and the black comedy 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, with Joe Pesci. Most of these films failed at the box office, and she reverted to TV work in the late 90's.
In the 1998-1999 season of Early Edition, Swanson played Erica Paget, a love interest of the main character, Gary Hobson. In 1999 Swanson played Vanessa, the girlfriend of Adam Sandler in the movie Big Daddy. In 2000, she returned to a television series, as the star of Grapevine, a revamp of a 1992 TV series. It was cancelled after 5 episodes.
Swanson posed nude for Playboy magazine in November 2002. She appeared in and won the 2006 FOX television program Skating with Celebrities, partnered with Lloyd Eisler.
On May 8, 2007, Swanson appeared in the NBC Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode "Bombshell". She portrayed a thinly veiled fictionalization of Anna Nicole Smith (called Lorelei Mailer) - a former nude model turned reality TV star battling for the fortune of her deceased 92 year old husband whose teenage son dies shortly after the birth of her daughter.
In 2007, she became a spokesperson of the Medifast diet. In the following year, she guest-starred in 3 episodes of the lesbian web series 3Way.
Swanson was born in Mission Viejo, California, the daughter of physical education teachers Rosemary and Robert Swanson. Swanson and her Skating with Celebrities partner, Lloyd Eisler, began dating in December 2005, while he was still married to his first wife, Marcia O'Brien . The couple welcomed their first child together on February 16, 2007. The pair were together in Kingston, Ontario in February 2006 to promote and host the annual FebFest event.
Kristy was arrested on June 16, 2007 for an alleged assault on her companion's ex-wife. Her lawyer, Constance Baran-Gerez, arranged for charges to be withdrawn on October 31, 2007.
Swanson has dated actors Alan Thicke and David Spade in the past.
- Kristy Swanson at the Internet Movie Database