Danica McKellar, Actress, Stuff Model, Math Whiz
Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper in the “Wonder Years,” is featured in a photo shoot in something called Stuff magazine. In her spare time, she proves mathematical theorems.
Between Series, an Actress Became a Superstar (in Math) (NYT July 19)
On her Web site, Danica McKellar, the actress best known as Winnie Cooper on the television series “The Wonder Years,” takes on questions that require more than a moment’s thought to answer. “If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself,” one fan asked recently, “and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?” “This is a ‘rates’ problem,” Ms. McKellar wrote in reply. “The key is to think about each of their ‘car washing rates’ and not the ‘time’ it takes them.”
Ms. McKellar, now a semiregular on “The West Wing” playing a White House speechwriter, Elsie Snuffin, is probably the only person on prime-time television who moonlights as a cyberspace math tutor. Her mathematics knowledge extends well beyond calculus. As a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles, she also took more esoteric classes, the ones with names like “complex analysis” and “real analysis,” and she pondered making a career move to professional mathematician.
“I love that stuff,” Ms. McKellar said last month during a visit to Manhattan after a play-reading in the Hamptons. Her conversation was peppered with terminology like “epsilons” and “limsups” (pronounced “lim soups”). “I love continuous functions and proving if functions are continuous or not,” she said.
She may also be the only actress, now or ever, to prove a new mathematical theorem, one that bears her name. Certainly, she is the only theorem prover who appears wearing black lingerie in the July issue of Stuff magazine. Even in that interview, she mentioned math.
Hat tip: Known Unknowns
Thumbnails of the Danica McKellar Stuff shoot, reasonably safe for work, in the extended entry:
Click link for access to larger images.