Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982) is an American actress. She was one of the leading child actors of the 1990s, starring in movies such as Hocus Pocus (1993), Now and Then (1995), and Alaska (1996). Since the 1990s she has moved on to more mature roles, with notable performances in films such as American Beauty (1999), The Hole (2001), and the acclaimed cult film Ghost World (2001).
Birch was born in Los Angeles, California, the eldest child of Jack Birch and Carol Connors. Both her parents (who have managed her career and remain her managers right up to the present day) were former adult film actors and her mother appeared in the notorious pornographic film, Deep Throat.Birch, who has a brother named Bolt Birch, is of Jewish, Nordic, and Italian descent. The family's original surname was "Biersch", coming from her German Jewish ancestors.The name 'Thora' is a feminized form of the name Thor, the God of the Sky and of Thunder in Norse mythology. From an early age, Birch was encouraged by her parents to audition for commercials. She landed several parts representing companies such as Quaker Oats and Vlasic Pickles. In 1988, she broke into acting when landing the role of Molly in the short-lived television series Day By Day in which she was billed simply as "Thora." That same year she played an important role in the movie Purple People Eater opposite Ned Beatty and Neil Patrick Harris for which she won a Youth In Film Award for her performance.