The Golden Globe-nominated actress started modeling at 5 months old and appeared in her first commercial when she was 11 months old. Her big break came in 1994 when she began playing Sarah Roberts on One Life to Live at age 5.
She continued to impress onscreen with roles in Remember the Titans, Raising Helen and Scream 4, but made an even bigger splash with her television work.
The New York native is best known for her leading roles on Heroes as cheerleader Claire Bennet and Nashville as singer Juliette Barnes.
She was nominated for two Golden Globes for the music-based series and was nominated for a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic TV Actress in 2015.
At times, the actress’ personal struggles overshadowed her professional success through the years.
After welcoming daughter Kaya with then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko in December 2014, the Guiding Light alum endured postpartum depression. She sought treatment twice to improve her mental health and openly talked about her ups and downs after giving birth.
“It takes you a while. You feel off. You don’t feel like yourself,” Panettiere told Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer in January 2017. “But, you know, women are so resilient, and that’s the incredible thing about them. I think I’m all the stronger for it. I think I’m a better mom because of it. Because you never take that connection for granted.”
The pair split in August 2018, and shortly after Panettiere began dating Brian Hickerson, who was arrested for domestic violence against her in May 2019. Months later, the case against him was dropped, but his family worried that he and the actress are “very toxic for each other,” a source told Us Weekly that November.
Panettiere and Hickerson broke up after another domestic violence incident in February 2020. Five months later, the actress spoke out about her situation, telling Us that she hopes her story “will empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve.”
In addition to overcoming her alcoholism, Hayden’s brother, Jansen Panettiere, died at the age of 28 in February 2023 of an enlarged heart. “Jansen’s heart could be seen in his eyes, and his charm in his brilliant, engaging smile; his soul in his masterful and revealing paintings, and the joy of life in his dry wit,” read a statement from Hayden and her parents, Lesley Vogel and Skip Panettiere, at the time. “His charisma, warmth, compassion for others, and his creative spirit will live forever in our hearts and in the hearts of all whom he encountered.”
Scroll down for the highs and lows of Hayden’s life in the spotlight.