The character Ruthie Camden from 7th Heaven was the original youngest sibling on the popular TV show. Fans fell in love with the young girl’s curly brown hair, big doe eyes, and the childlike presence she brought to the sometimes-complicated problems of the Camden family. For over a decade, audiences watched the actress playing Ruthie, Mackenzie Rosman, grow from an innocent child into an angst-ridden teenager as the show continued on for 11 seasons.
As Rosman navigated the hardships of growing up as a child actor on the small screen, Rosman’s personal life was infused with depression, as she grieved the tragic loss of her stepsister. The young woman eventually transformed the curly ‘do her character was known for, shed her adolescent persona, and shocked audiences when she posed for a scandalous Maxim photo shoot. With Rosman’s 7th Heaven days long behind her, it’s clear that America’s little sweetheart has become all grown up.
A star is born
Mackenzie Rosman will likely always be remembered as her super cute 7th Heaven character, little Ruthie Camden. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that off screen she is her own person and — spoiler alert — wasn’t born in the fictional town of Glenoak, Calif. Rosman was actually born in Charleston, S.C. on Dec. 28, 1989, according to her website, and she spent the first two years of her life on the East Coast before moving to Los Angeles with her mom, stepdad, brother, and stepsister.
While most wide-eyed kids are busy playing with dolls and blocks, Rosman was signed with a talent agency, and that signing — prompted by Rosman’s mother — helped paved way for the actress’ successful TV career. The curly-haired cutie quickly landed several roles in commercials, such as Tufts Health Plan and Hormel chili dogs, and she was even in a Nike shoe advertisement. You’re probably grinning at the thought of how ridiculously cute her commercial appearances were. And boy were they ever!
She scored the 7th Heaven role by shaking hands
While most 6-year-olds are focusing on tying their shoes, Rosman was already hard at work. During her sixth year on Earth, she already had two years of acting experience under her belt and was heading to a job interview that would forever change her life. Yes, cue the 7th Heaven casting audition!
Now, most casting crews probably sit in on hundreds of auditions hearing the same line after line from candidates who just don’t stand a chance. So, when Rosman brought a unique and personal approach to her audition, she helped put herself ahead of the pack. And let’s be honest, her adorable looks probably had something to do with it. But more so, Rosman reportedly wowed the casting crew by shaking everyone’s hands before the audition and introducing herself to each person (via MackRosman.net). Rather unheard of for a 6-year-old kid! It was that extra attention to detail that landed her the role on 7th Heaven, on which she’d star for 11 years and 236 episodes (via IMDb). Practice that handshake now, people, because introductions are clearly everything.
Her first crush was on this celebrity’s son
We all remember our first crush. Whether it was Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic or your next-door neighbor growing up, that special someone left an imprint on your heart forever. In Rosman’s case, she fell for a boy she met through work — the son of 7th Heaven’s executive producer Aaron Spelling.
"I remember Mr. Spelling to be one of the kindest men I’ve ever come across, and when I was a little kid I used to have a crush on his son, Randy," Rosman dished during an interview with Maxim. "Whenever we had wrap parties I always wanted to dance with him. I was probably, like, 6, but I had lots of crushes on people when I was 6." Randy Spelling, a now-former actor who starred in Beverly Hills, 90210, once made a cameo in a 7th Heaven episode (via IMDb), and we’d wager a guess that his appearance on set made young Rosman’s day.
The juicy gossip of Jessica Biel’s racy photo shoot
Rosman was joined on the 7th Heaven set by two older actresses you probably know and love: Jessica Biel and Beverly Mitchell. Biel, who is seven years older than Rosman, played Mary, and Mitchell, who is nine years older than Rosman, played Lucy. Given as how Rosman was a young child surrounded by the world of Hollywood, it was only a matter of time before she was introduced to some high-profile drama. For Rosman, that drama was when co-star Biel posed topless for the cover of Gear in 2000 — when the then-future Mrs. Justin Timberlake was only 17 years old.
"I was probably nine at the time, but I remember that. It was a big deal," Rosman told Maxim (via HuffPost). "The magazine was banned on set, I think by orders of Aaron Spelling. I sneaked a peek at it, though. It was racy gossip amongst the women of 7th Heaven!" Rosman isn’t the only one who had something to say regarding the risqué photo shoot. Stephen Collins, who played Eric Camden on the show and who faced a much bigger scandal of his own years later, expressed his disapproval of the shoot (via New York Daily News).
From baby talk to love scenes
As Rosman entered her teens, she took on an older look and traded her signature curly ‘do for straight hair. While Rosman’s appearance matured, her character, Ruthie Camden, started to experience the more serious issues that being a teenager often brings. Ruthie’s problems began small — like her not knowing the words to the "Star Spangled Banner" in Season 1 — and grew much larger. By Season 10, she got her heart broken by Martin. In an interview with TV Guide, Rosman described growing up on the small screen as "pretty trippy."
However, she noted, "I’ve been used to having to do stuff that I’ve never done in real [life]…. I don’t mind it at all, really. I just do it." Rosman also revealed that, when faced with love scenes, her nerves come into play. She admitted to getting "a little bit nervous," adding, "But not as much as some people think I would, because I have to do it. It’s kind of neat that I get fun story lines now."
Horsing around behind the scenes
Rosman confessed that her and her 7th Heaven character, Ruthie, had a lot in common. She told TV Guide, "We’re both kind of the same — a little bit b***hy." But that’s not all the two have in common, they both share a love for horses. Rosman’s personal Instagram is filled with photos of horseback riding and equestrian competitions that show her passion for the sport.
On April 4, 2019, Rosman shared a photo of her horse jumping with the caption: "Gettin geared up for the Elkridge Harford Point to Point this weekend! #TBT pic from last year." Her official fan website even mentioned in January 2019 that she is busy with jockey training for upcoming steeplechasing events. For the petite brunette who is under five feet tall, according to Maxim, her size is perfect for jockeying, as riders are required to stay under a certain weight so they can ride quickly around the track.
The tragic death of her stepsister
Mackenzie Rosman grew up with her brother Chandler and stepsister Katelyn Salmont. Salmont was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disorder, at the age of two (via TV Guide). As such, Rosman had taken it upon herself to spread awareness of cystic fibrosis, and she even approached 7th Heaven’s executive producer Brenda Hampton to ask to do an episode on the disorder featuring Salmont. For the pitch, Rosman came prepared with "notes in hand." Hampton later recalled her reaction to the pitch, saying, "I thought it was very touching." Rosman’s idea made it into an episode in 2003 and featured Salmont as a girl — also named Katelyn — who befriends Ruthie. Her character explained the challenges of living with cystic fibrosis and in one scene rides on horseback alongside Ruthie during sunset, as Salmont, too, shared a real-life passion for horses like her TV star sister.
Sadly, Salmont passed away from complications related to cystic fibrosis at the age of 22 on Christmas in 2008. Rosman made a tribute to her late sister in an Instagram post on National Siblings Day in 2017, writing, "Miss and love you Katelyn."
Life after 7th Heaven
Mackenzie Rosman continued on with her acting career after 7th Heaven, but none of her projects were as successful as the award-winning family drama. In 2010, Rosman starred in four episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a show also produced by 7th Heaven creator Brenda Hampton. Rosman expressed her excitement in working on the show as a recurring guest star because the entire filming crew of about 100 people was the same as the one on 7th Heaven.
Following her sitcom work, Rosman starred in Syfy’s original movie Ghost Shark. She portrayed Ava, a woman who tries to find out more about her father’s death after he’s brutally killed by a — you guessed it! — ghost shark. The movie was expected to be a contender for the next Sharknado and currently sits with a 21 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Next, Rosman worked on the 2013 horror project Nightcomber.
However, since then, Rosman has largely appeared to have taken a break from acting, except for appearing in a couple of shorts, and, judging by her Instagram photos, she seems to be happy living her life as a normal adult enjoying hanging with dogs, riding horses, and fishing.
Stripped down for Maxim
One of the most talked about moments in Mackenzie Rosman’s life was when she posed for Maxim in 2013. The photos proved Rosman was no longer a TV reverend’s sweet little daughter but a woman all grown up with a heavy dose of sex appeal. Rosman tweeted following the shoot, "I caved… Just wrapped a #Maxim photoshoot." In the spread, she wore different lingerie sets and even playfully undressed in some photos. Fans went absolutely crazy, to say the least. Social media quickly filled with all sorts of posts expressing the range of fans’ emotions — some social media users felt old at seeing Rosman as an adult woman, others presumably felt guilty to see her in revealing clothes, and some were just downright shaken by Rosman’s decision to participate in the magazine shoot. For instance, one fan tweeted, "Mackenzie Rosman, the girl who played Ruthie on 7th Heaven, is now posing for Maxim. A bit of my childhood just died inside."
The Maxim shoot wasn’t the first time the public saw a racy side of Rosman. Fox News reported some of her private photos, including a photo in her underwear and a shot of her making out with another girl, were leaked to the web in 2008.
Struggling with anxiety and depression
Mackenzie Rosman supported the nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms by attending an event in 2010 that raised money for suicide awareness. During an interview with Shine On Media, she shared that she’s faced depression and anxiety herself. "It’s been a struggle for me as well and I just think it’s important to raise awareness about it and help people because you need help," she stated. When asked if she was working on any projects, she quietly shook her head and mentioned that she had spent a year battling depression. She admitted her condition grew to be so bad that she didn’t even want to leave the house. Although Rosman reported to be doing better, she said she was still coping with anxiety.
Rosman has been involved with several other charities aside from To Write Love on Her Arms. Inspired by her stepsister’s cystic fibrosis experience, Rosman became the National Honorary Chair for CureFinders on the board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 2008. She also appeared in a Campbell’s soup commercial that promoted Labels for Education, which donates supplies to schools in exchange for their soup labels.
Her idea for a 7th Heaven drinking game
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that child stars — like real people — grow up and partake in adult activities… like drinking alcohol. Mackenzie Rosman is well over the legal drinking age these days. During her interview with Maxim in 2013, she talked about boozing and was asked if she knew of a 7th Heaven drinking game (via HuffPost). "No, but I would like to see one. You could drink whenever Ruthie rolls her eyes or when Lucy squeals," Rosman suggested.
This actress is no stranger to unadulterated fun. She described her appreciation for intimate settings as opposed to busy hangouts. "I like going out, I just don’t see anything logical about waiting in line to be locked in a room that has too many people in it and no place to sit down and somebody just turned the volume up on the music really loud and they are charging you double for your drink and… you get the idea." We couldn’t agree with you more, Rosman.
MIA for the 7th Heaven reunion
When you’ve worked with the same people for 11 years, like Rosman did with the cast of 7th Heaven, strong connections are made that often branch into friendships. It’s only normal that you think about the people you once saw every week and make a conscious effort to stay in touch. Rosman told Us Weekly that it’s hard to plan a meetup that works with everyone’s schedule because most of the cast lives in different parts of the country. She explained that Beverley Mitchell is the organizer of the group and rounds up the crew for reunions whenever she can.
Unfortunately, Rosman was not in attendance for their 2014 reunion. "I was so bummed to have missed the last dinner! They planned it and I had a trip to the East Coast planned and at the last minute it moved and I was on a flight 12 hours before that," she told Us Weekly in 2015. Rosman deeply expressed how much she missed the 7th Heaven family, including everyone who worked behind the scenes.
Sisters by heart
The strong bond 7th Heaven‘s Ruthie, Lucy, and Mary Camden have on screen has stretched beyond the camera and into the actress’ personal lives. Mackenzie Rosman, Jessica Biel, and Beverley Mitchell have stayed connected throughout the years and have supported each other like sisters. Their friendship was first shown in Beverley Mitchell’s 2008 wedding, in which Rosman and Biel were two of her seven bridesmaids, as reported by Just Jared. Then in 2016, Mitchell and Rosman were at the opening of Biel’s restaurant Au Fudge (via Today).
In 2017, the three women met for dinner to catch up, and Mitchell was apparently moved by their long-lasting friendship. She wrote a post on her blog, Growing up Hollywood, expressing her love for the two women and how they are great inspirations to her. "I love these two beyond words and have to say that after a few hours together today my heart is full!" Mitchell penned.
Previously, Rosman had mentioned to Us Weekly in 2015 that she’s met Mitchell’s oldest daughter, Kenzie Lynne, and was flattered that Mitchell took part of her name for her child. Rosman and Mitchell reunited once again over cocktails in April of 2018 and snapped an Instagram photo wearing best friends shirts. Clearly, the trio’s friendship is just like heaven!