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Helen Rachel Slater (born December 15, 1963) is an American film actress and singer-songwriter.
Slater was born Helen Rachel Slater in Massapequa, New York, the daughter of Alice Joan, a lawyer and nuclear disarmament peace activist based in New York, and Gerald Slater, a television executive; the two divorced in 1974. She has a brother, David, who is a lawyer in New York City. Her family is Jewish. Slater attended the High School of Performing Arts, graduating in 1982. In 1990, she married award-winning editor Robert Watzke. Their daughter, Hannah Nika, was born August 28, 1995.
Slater has been erroneously thought to be related to Christian Slater. In addition to their shared professional surname--Christian's birth name is Christian Michael Leonard Hawkins--the myth is further fueled by their portrayal of sister and brother in The Legend of Billie Jean. Additionally, the DVD of Supergirl includes a critic's review which states Christian is her brother.
She made her acting debut in the ABC Afterschool Special Amy and the Angel, transmitted in 1982, alongside James Earl Jones, Meg Ryan, and Matthew Modine. This was also the only film she appeared in as a brunette. In 1984, she was cast as the title character, versus Faye Dunaway as Selena, in the film Supergirl, released in 1984. The film, directed by Jeannot Szwarc, received mixed reviews, and was not a box office success. Slater herself later confessed that even she did not understand the story the film was attempting to tell.
In her next film, she was cast alongside Christian Slater (no relation) and Yeardley Smith as Billie Jean Davy, a modern day Joan of Arc, in the cult classic The Legend of Billie Jean (1985). Next, she went the comedic route, starring in two big comic blockbusters, Ruthless People (1986) and The Secret of My Success (1987), playing ingenues in both roles. She also became a spokeswoman for Preference by L'Oréal in both television and print ads.
Since the late 1980s, she has worked infrequently in television and film. She made a brief guest appearance on Seinfeld as a love interest of Jerry Seinfeld, who in reality is a huge fan of the Superman universe. More recently, Slater was seen in a recurring role as Superman's biological mother, Lara daughter of Lor-Van, on the Superman-themed TV series Smallville.