In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Holly Marie Combs was one of the biggest stars on television thanks to her role as Piper Halliwell on the hit supernatural drama Charmed.
Along with co-stars Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty, Combs brought the character of Piper to life for eight seasons as the mild-mannered middle sister who developed the powers of molecular immobilization and molecular combustion.
After Charmed ended in 2006, Combs went on to land roles in various television shows and TV movies but never quite captured the same level of fame she had during the Charmed years.
Now, over 15 years since the end of the show, whatever happened to Holly Marie Combs?
On December 3rd, 1973, in San Diego, California, to parents Lauralei Combs, an aspiring actress, and David Combs, Holly Marie Combs Ryan was born.
Her parents were only 15 and 17 when they had Holly, and married shortly after, but divorced two years later.
When Holly was seven, mother and daughter moved out to New York. Combs went to Beekman Hill Elementary and then attended the acclaimed Professional Children’s School where the famed Ernie Martin coached her.
Holly made her acting debut at the age of 12 in the rom-com film Walls of Glass in 1985. She followed that up with the dramedy movie Sweet Hearts Dance in 1988 and appeared in two films in 1998, the anthology New York Stories, and the anti-war drama Born on the Fourth of July.
On TV, Combs started out on the soap opera circuit, appearing on Guiding Light in 1990 and had a guest appearance from 1991 until 1994 on As the World Turns.
In 1992, Holly would grab a main role on the family drama Picket Fences, where she portrayed Kimberly Brock for all 88 episodes across all four seasons of the award-winning show. The series itself went on to be nominated for dozens and dozens of awards, and Holly grabbed a few for herself for her time on the series.
Holly played the role of Piper Halliwell in the female-led fantasy drama Charmed about three sisters that discover they are witches with amazing magical powers that have to keep saving the world. The show starred Combs, Shannen Doherty, Alyssa Milano, and later, Rose McGowan. Initially, the character Piper was the middle sister in the show until the eldest sister (Doherty) was killed off, making Piper the eldest sister for seasons four through eight.
Holly’s character Piper appeared in all 179 of the 178 episodes across all eight seasons of the show, which includes her appearance with Doherty in the unaired pilot before Milano joined the cast.
For the first four seasons of Charmed Holly was making $60,000 per episode. Seasons five and six put Combs at $80,000 per episode, in part because she also became Executive Producer, and for the final seasons seven and eight, she was up to $102,000 per episode.
If Piper wasn’t your favorite Halliwell sister before, she will be after you learn this tidbit. The show always tried to put the busts of the female leads in every shot, but Holly decided enough was enough. When wardrobe was told to leave padded and push-up bras in her dressing room, Combs just decided to theoretically burn them all and go without one altogether.
What did she do after Charmed?
After her magic ran out on Charmed, Holly kept acting on screen while adding more Producer credits to her name. In 2008 Combs starred in and Executive Produced the film Zack’s Life, about a man trying to figure out life after his father passes away.
Combs became a triple threat when she co-produced, co-wrote, and starred in the film Mistresses in 2009. Holly then shot a few failed pilots before she landed a role that breathed a bit of fresh air back into her career.
Pretty Little Liars
The teen mystery drama Pretty Little Liars took us all by storm starting in 2010, and Holly joined in on the twisted fun. She played Ella Montgomery, mother of one of the main girls Aria, played by Lucy Hale, for 87 episodes in the series until it ended in 2017. She started out as part of the main cast for seasons one through three, but was more of a seasonal guest for seasons four through seven.
What is Holly Marie Combs doing now?
Once Pretty Little Liars wrapped, Holly has really only been in one episode of Grey’s Anatomy, produced a documentary titled Sharkwater Extinction, and started a few projects with PLL alums Nia Peeples, Laura Leighton, and Lesley Fera that didn’t stick.
Charmed Reboot, Drama
Like everything else in Hollywood, The CW gave Charmed a reboot in 2018, but left out the entire original cast. Holly at first tried to play neutral when OG cast member Rose McGowan got into a Twitter feud with reboot Charmed cast member Sarah Jeffrey. Later on, though, Combs admitted that she thought the reboot should have been called by another name instead of trying to ride on the waves of the original.
Combs had a bit more to say on Twitter, saying the network said the new show was a feminist reboot, implying the original was not, which really got Holly wound up. Combs, McGowan, and Alyssa Milano all stated they felt like The CW did the entire original show, cast, and writers a disservice with the reboot.
The House of Halliwell / A Charmed Rewatch Podcast
But if you are wishing for the Charmed days of old, there’s a podcast for that. Holly and other original cast members Brian Krause and Drew Fuller, who played Leo (Piper’s husband) and Chris (one of Piper’s sons) rewatch the entire show, one episode at a time, and let you in on all of the good stuff.
Charmed is huge on the convention circuit and Holly loves to make the fans happy. Since 2014 she’s been making the convention rounds, and between Charmed and Pretty Little Liars, she seems to be at one constantly. She already has five appearances on the books for 2023.
If you want something a little more personal, catch Combs on Cameo for a personalized video or pick me up.
Holly has been married three times, with the first being in 1993 to actor Bryan Travis Smith, ending with the pair divorcing in 1997. Her second marriage in 2004 was to Charmed key-grip David Donoho, and the pair share three sons, Finley Arthur, Riley Edward, and Kelley James, who are now teenagers. They went on to divorce in 2011.
Third time’s a charm for Combs, who went on to marry restaurateur Mike Ryan in 2019 after dating since 2016. The couple met at Ryan’s restaurant Xoc in Los Angeles.
It seems Combs is enjoying married life and her blended family, and not focused so much on working lately. That doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of her on screen or behind the camera, though! And maybe the Power of Three will bring us a 25th-anniversary reunion of the Charmed ones in 2023.