Emma Samms (née Samuelson) was born into a happy, affluent family in London in the summer of 1960. At age six, she began studying at the prestigious Royal Ballet School. But Samms' charmed youth was marred when her younger brother died of a rare blood disease. Samms escaped the pain by focusing on dance, but an injury she sustained at age 16 ended her ballet career. After a brief modeling stint, Samms took up acting. Her first role, in the 1979 movie Arabian Adventure, garnered her the British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. At the movie's London premiere, a benefit for sick children, Samms befriended a young boy named Sean who had been diagnosed with cancer. Their bond continued even after she moved to the United States.
In America, Samms was forced to pay her acting dues all over again; in 1981, she landed a part opposite Mark Harmon in the flick Goliath Awaits. Samms also brought Sean and his mother out to California to fulfill his dream of visiting Disneyland. Encouraged by the positive experience, Samms and her cousin started the Starlight Children's Foundation in honor of Samms' deceased brother. The foundation grants wishes to sick children. As Samms' organization grew, so did her career. In 1982, she joined the cast of General Hospital as the devious Holly Sutton. Four years later, at age 24, she attained international fame as heroine Fallon Carrington on the prime-time soap Dynasty. Meanwhile, Samms' off screen life was tainted by two failed marriages.
As the indulgent '80s ended, so did the decadent Dynasty. Samms reprised her role on General Hospital before joining the ill-fated show Models Inc. in 1994. Luckily, her personal life was faring better; she reconnected with childhood friend John Holloway and married him in 1996. The couple moved to the English countryside and had two children, son Cameron and daughter Beatrice. Samms continues to perform in made-for-TV movies and has written and sold several screenplays. Throughout her career, she has always used her fame to help others. Today, the Starlight Children's Foundation helps more than 100,000 children each month in 1,000 hospitals throughout the world.