The Untold Truth Of Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette has been a familiar face to TV viewers since 2003, when she was cast as goth-attired forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on NCIS. While Abby spent years helping the team capture make-believe criminals, Biography pointed out that Perrette herself, ironically, earned a masters degree in criminology with an eye toward fighting crime in real life. 

However, Perrette was bitten by the acting bug instead. After appearing in TV commercials for the likes of Volkswagen and Sprint, in 1996 Perrette landed a recurring role in legal drama Murder One (using the moniker Pauley P. at the time). That exposure led to more TV work, making her debut as a series regular in the short-lived sitcom That's Life. Further screen credits include such movies as Almost Famous and My First Mister, as well as another series regular role starring opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jennifer Garner in the Party of Five spinoff Time of Your Life – before she was ultimately cast in her life-changing NCIS role.

Despite being one of TV's most popular stars for well over a decade, there's much that fans may not know about this multitalented, multifaceted performer. Read on to discover the untold truth of Pauley Perrette. 

Pauley Perrette spent years as TV's most-liked female star

The popularity of everything from consumer products to entertainers is measured by Q Scores. Compiling its data from consumer surveys, the company is considered to be "the recognized industry standard" when it comes to measuring how consumers respond to various celebrities, utilizing a scoring system to rate stars' appeal. According to Entertainment Weekly, when the company released its January/February 2010 Performer Q study, Pauley Perrette wound up with an enviable score of 43 points. 

In the years since, Perrette continued to be a Q score champion. According to The Wrap, by 2018 her score had risen to 44 — impressive, considering that the average score for a female television star was just 21. The next-highest score for a television actress at that time was Empire's Taraji P. Henson, with 36 points — certainly higher than average, but a full eight points behind Perrette.

Perrette's high Q score no doubt had something to do with NCIS being the world's most-watched TV series for eight consecutive years. The irony, however, was that the 2018 Q score was released after she'd announced she was quitting the show, and just days before her final episode aired.

Pauley Perrette has appeared in a ton of music videos

Before breaking through on NCIS, Pauley Perrette was a struggling young actress living in New York City who made some extra cash by appearing in music videos. "When I was in NY bartending, I was in a billion music videos," she explained in an interview with Parade. "I was in Madonna, George Michael, Salt-N-Pepa — it goes on and on." 

As Perrette recalled, a 12-hour shoot for a music video would earn her an extra $50. "I was shooting those all the time with my mohawk," she continued. "I was in Madonna's video for 'Secret' and we shot that up in Harlem. It was beautiful, it was fun. But that was just one of many."

One music video that Perrette didn't mention to Parade was Metallica's video for "The Unnamed Feeling," something that she acknowledged in a 2017 tweet. "And yes that's me in the @Metallica 'The Unnamed Feeling' video," she wrote. "As the panic attack girl, pretty fitting."

Pauley Perrette is a singer and songwriter who used to front a punk band

During Pauley Perrette's pre-fame years in New York City, she was also busy pursuing her musical ambitions. "I was into music before I was an actor," she told Parade in 2012. "I was in an all-girl punk rock band that was amazing."

Throughout her acting career, Perrette has continued to showcase her talents as a singer and songwriter. At the time, she told Parade about her current musical project, Stop Making Friends. In fact, one of her Stop Making Friends songs, "Somebody Saved You," made it onto the NCIS Benchmark Soundtrack album. "I collaborate with a lot of people. I have a new single out with D.M.C. from Run-D.M.C.," she continued, discussing her song "Attention Please."

In 2015, Perrette appeared on Entertainment Tonight to debut another single, "Beautiful Child" – featuring her NCIS co-star Michael Weatherly on piano. "He's a very talented musician," she said of Weatherly. "He actually plays piano on every song that I've ever written."

Pauley Perrette is a huge animal rights advocate

Along with music, animals are another of Pauley Perrette's passions. "I'm so obsessed with animals," Perrette revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2013. At the time, Perrette had just been awarded the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award, described as "an honor given to a philanthropic entertainer who has held a leadership role in local or global wildlife conservation."

As a longtime animal lover and pet owner, Perrette may also have discovered the secret to feline and canine and longevity. As she joked to People, her corgi-dachshund-Chihuahua mix was "probably about 237 years old," while two of her cats made it to ages 20 and 24. "I'll tell you the secret: It's because I talk to them all the time," Perrette continued. "I really think it's talking to them all the time and giving them that kind of love. They want to stay."

Perrette also explained how her dogs keep her physically active. "They will keep you moving and keep you walking," she added. "That's my green way of staying fit: having animals."

Pauley Perrette co-owned a New York City bakery

Pauley Perrette expanded into the culinary arena in 2011, when she and pals Darren Greenblatt and Matthew Sandusky opened their own bakery in New York City. "Me and my two best friends took my mother's recipes and all of her inspiration and opened a Southern country bake shop in Manhattan called Donna Bell's Bake Shop," Perrette told CNBC. "That was her name — Donna Bell."

As Perrette explained, the Hell's Kitchen bakery used the recipes that Perrette's mother — who passed away from breast cancer in 2002 — taught her while growing up in the South. "We're so proud of it, and just to pay homage to my mother is fantastic," said Perrette of the venture. 

The bakery thrived for nearly a decade, until it became one of many businesses to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to W42ST.NYC, the business was hit hard, given that tourism in Manhattan had dried up and most of the office workers who'd made up much of the bakery's clientele were working from home. On Christmas Day of 2020, a sad message appeared on the bakery's Facebook page, announcing, "We are closing this weekend, for good."

Not all of Pauley Perrette's NCIS tattoos were real

On NCIS, Abby Sciuto was distinguished by her goth wardrobe and the spiderweb tattoo that adorned her neck. In a 2013 interview with Extra, Pauley Perrette showed off her tattoo-free neck. "I absolutely do not have a spiderweb tattoo on my neck," she revealed. As Perrette explained to Parade, the web wasn't the only faux tat; that "and the cross on her back belong to CBS." 

According to Perrette, producers of NCIS "wanted tattoos that were visible no matter what I was wearing." In a video detailing her transformation into Abby by the NCIS hair and makeup team, Perrette described the application of the spiderweb tattoo as "the very worst part of the process" of becoming Abby. "I have to prepare myself for the dreaded putting on of the neck tattoo," she quipped. "I hate the tattoo," she noting that as the day goes on "it gets all gummy and sticky..."

Perrette also joked about her character's propensity for tats in an interview with TV Guide. "It's the only job I've ever had where my bosses are excited when I get new tattoos!" she quipped.

Pauley Perrette's divorce from punk rocker Coyote Shivers was beyond ugly

Pauley Perrette and musician Coyote Shivers married in 2000, and divorced in 2004. As Fox News reported, Perrette was granted a restraining order against her ex, and for years continued to accuse him of harassing her. "He's shown up at events he wasn't invited to," she explained, describing the situation as akin to being "in the middle of a horror movie I didn't audition for."

Nearly a decade after their divorce, RadarOnline reported that Shivers was arrested for violating the order, and sentenced to 90 days in jail. As TMZ pointed out, Shivers was on probation at the time, following his arrest the previous year for violating that same order.

According to Shivers, however, it was Perrette who'd been stalking him. In a lawsuit he filed in 2014, he accused her of a "decade-long campaign of harassment... intended to financially, physically, and emotionally ruin [him]." The lawsuit was dismissed; as Page Six pointed out, in 2008 Shivers had been designated a "vexatious litigant" in the state of California — a term describing "those who abuse the legal system with multiple meritless lawsuits aimed at harassing or subduing a singular target." 

Pauley Perrette has some odd phobias

Pauley Perrette appeared alongside legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper in a 2015 episode of The Late Late Show. Host James Corden told his guests that they share a big similarity in that they both have "quite extreme phobias." After joking about the possibility that she was terrified of ovens, Perrette revealed her actual phobias, which include her fear of movie theaters and magicians. That latter, she admitted, was "a big one."

When asked by Corden if she was "scared" of magicians, Perrette said, "Scared is an understatement." Admitting she finds "everything" about magicians to be terrifying, she added, "It's all about deception, it's all about foolery, it's all about something, and I can feel them coming from, like, a mile away." When Corden pointed out that her fear of magicians was kind of an odd phobia to have, Perrette told him to ask Cooper to reveal his biggest phobia. "I hate balloon animals," he revealed. 

However, Perrette didn't feel an obligation to defend her phobia. "Here's the thing I say about phobias, is, by definition, they're irrational fears," Perrette told Corden. "So therefore we don't have to rationalize them for you."

Pauley Perrette once had a nasty reaction to black hair dye

In a 2015 appearance on The Queen Latifah Show, Pauley Perrette made an admission that many of her fans likely found shocking. "So I'm blonde, and I've been dying my hair black for over a decade," she revealed. 

What Perrette didn't realize, she explained in an interview with Extra, was that over time she'd developed an acquired allergy to the hair dye she'd been using. In 2014, this resulted in her being hospitalized after suffering an extreme reaction when half her face became swollen and puffy, something she documented in a photo she posted on Twitter. Following her tweet, she told Extra, "it was all over the news because people don't know about it and it can be fatal. It's very serious."

Speaking with KCAL9, Perrette shared that "half of my face had become twice the size of my head," and warned others who dye their hair to be aware of the potential hazards they likely didn't even know about. "The most important thing to me is that anyone out there that dyes their hair, particularly black, you need to be aware of the symptoms," she added.

There's a dark reason Pauley Perrette will never return to NCIS

Fans of NCIS were shook when, in 2017, Pauley Perrette announced she was leaving the show. She didn't go into details, but shortly before her final episode aired, she took to Twitter to tell fans to ignore the tabloids' "total lies" about her. In a followup tweet, she alluded to not telling the truth over fear for the jobs of the NCIS crewShe then tweeted about "a 'machine' keeping me silent."

The plot thickened in 2019 when she tweeted, "NO I AM NOT COMING BACK! EVER! (Please stop asking?) I am terrified of Harmon and him attacking me. I have nightmares about it."

Subsequently, TMZ reported that the whole thing stemmed from a 2016 incident in which NCIS star Mark Harmon brought his dog to the set. When the dog bit a member of the crew, Perrette complained to the powers that be and demanded that the dog no longer be allowed on the set. As a result, Harmon's dog was reportedly confined to his trailer when it wasn't on a leash. Perrette alleged that Harmon "body checked" her the following year, something she perceived as "payback."  

Pauley Perrette was attacked by a mentally ill man

In 2015, Pauley Perrette made headlines when she was violently attacked by an unhoused man in Los Angeles. She shared her experience on Twitter, explaining that she was walking across a street when the man grabbed her, "pinned my arm, punched me in the nose, forehead repeatedly telling me he was going to kill me... I was alone, terrified and trapped," she confessed. He then told her to "get the f**k out of here," which is exactly what she did. "I almost died tonight," she concluded.

As the Los Angeles Daily News reported, a suspect was subsequently arrested, with Perrette able to positively identify him in court. 

Writing about the incident for Time, Perrette pointed out "the obvious irony of me being an outspoken advocate for the homeless." She also revealed that despite the trauma and PTSD she was still experiencing, she'd come to forgive her attacker. "Of course I forgive him. I have no anger, only sadness," she shared. "He is very confused, he's homeless and he needs help."

Pauley Perrette returned to TV in a wacky sitcom

Despite the unfortunate circumstances behind her departure from NCIS, CBS wanted to get back into the Pauley Perrette business. That became crystal clear in 2019, when Deadline reported on the network's announcement that she'd be starring in a new CBS sitcom titled Broke. The show made its debut in the spring of 2020, with Perrette starring as a single mom who's forced to open her home to her snobby sister and her formerly wealthy husband when they lose their fortune.

As Perrette explained to TV Insider, when she left NCIS she wasn't planning on jumping back into another series. "I retired for a while, and I watched a lot of TV with my dogs and I was really good at it," she quipped.

Admitting that "no one believed" that she'd actually retired, Perrette told CBS Philly that it was her intention — until the offer came through and she instantly fell in love with Broke's showrunners. The fact that Broke was a comedy was also a bonus; making people laugh, she added, "is like one of the most rewarding things you can possibly do." Broke was ultimately cancelled after its first season. 

Pauley Perrette announced her retirement after the cancellation of "Broke"

While Pauley Perrette may have considered herself retired after leaving NCIS, and before her single season on Broke, the sitcom's cancellation seemingly made it official. In October 2020, Perrette made a big announcement via Twitter. "Does ANYONE KNOW if there's a legal and safe way to get a freaking #tattoo and #piercing in #LosAngeles now? I'm finally (after over four decades!!!) not under contract to a studio or a record company or a modeling agency and can do WHATEVER I WANT! I WANT new tattoos & piercings!"

In a second tweet, Perrette dropped the bombshell. "I [am] finally and happily retired! And this is what I was looking forward to!!! My rules in life now are 'if my #rescuedogs don't care, it's cool!' I only answer to God and animals and plants now. WOOT!!!"

Regardless of how permanent that retirement turns out to be, Perrette celebrated by changing up her signature dyed-black hair for a whole new look that she debuted on Twitter. "I tie-dyed my hair," she declared in a video she shared, showing off her new multicolored 'do. "Everything else sucks — but my hair's pretty awesome." 

Pauley Perrette made a lot of money from NCIS

If Pauley Perrette remains permanently retired, it's not like she can't afford it. After more than a decade starring on one of TV's all-time most popular shows, she's managed to sock away a few bucks — 22 million of them, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In fact, that same website estimated that Perrette earned $200,000 per episode on NCIS; given that a network TV drama will typically produce 22 episodes per season, that would have given her an annual salary of $4.4 million during her latter years on the show. That's in line with a 2012 TV Guide feature on television's highest-paid actors, which reported her salary then as $175,000 per episode. 

Perrette hasn't been keeping all that money to herself, either. During the 2020 Christmas season, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles, Perrette gave out cash gifts to several families who faced dire financial situations due to the pandemic, with each receiving $3,000 of her own money. "Philanthropy and giving is more contagious than a virus," Perrette said.