Janet Jones, aka Mrs. Wayne Gretzky, is under the spotlight again

Updated: February 10, 2006, 9:19 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Years after Janet Jones found fame as a fitness star, a "Dance Fever" performer and an up-and-coming actress, the wife of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is back in the spotlight -- only this time at the center of a betting scandal that has rocked the sports world.

Jones allegedly placed bets of as much as $100,000 with an illegal gambling ring that authorities say was headed by Rick Tocchet, assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, which Gretzky coaches and co-owns.

Unlike Tocchet and two others, Jones has not been charged with any crime, and her husband has denied any involvement.

Until now, Jones' spotlight has been unsullied. ESPN.com fans named her the No. 1 Greatest Sports Wife in a 2001 online poll.

After small roles in a handful of films, Jones first grabbed the public's attention playing Matt Dillon's dreamy girlfriend in the 1984 film "The Flamingo Kid." Critics were captivated by the statuesque blonde's good looks, with critic Roger Ebert calling her a "bikinied goddess."

She caught Gretzky's attention that year on television's "Dance Fever," where she was a performer and the hockey superstar a judge. The two didn't start dating until 1987, however, after they bumped into each other at a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. That year, Jones also appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine.

The couple were wed in a lavish ceremony in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 16, 1988, as Jones was expecting their first child, Paulina. They also have four other children: Ty, Trevor, Tristan and Emma.

Jones, 45, was born in the small town of Bridgeton, Mo., and began dancing as a child. She launched her Hollywood career with small roles as a dancer in such films as 1982's "Annie" and 1983's "Staying Alive."

Before marrying Gretzky, she was engaged to the late tennis star Vitas Gerulaitis and had been romantically linked to actor Bruce Willis.

After marrying Gretzky, Jones continued to occasionally make movies, appearing in "A Chorus Line," "American Anthem" and "Police Academy 5."

Actor-comedian Michael Winslow, who worked with her on the set of "Police Academy 5," remembered Jones as "a strong, independent woman" and a determined actress.

"This girl wanted to make it," he told The Associated Press in a 1988 interview. "She was really trying to get people to notice that she was really working on this movie. It was no walkthrough for her."

In 1992, Jones worked alongside Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell in the baseball movie "A League of their Own."

Then she turned her attention to fitness, starring in a series of workout videos called "The Firm."

She and Gretzky appeared together on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1997, but Jones' attorney, Evan Jenness, said Friday the fitness star does not smoke.

She recently returned to movies after a 10-year absence and will appear in D.B. Sweeney's "Dirt Nap" and Nick Cassavetes' "Alpha Dog" later this year.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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