Early life and careerBleeth was born in New York City, the daughter of Carina, a model, and Philip Bleeth, a business proprietor. Her father Philip is Jewish of Russian and German descent, her late mother Carina was of French and Algerian descent. Her earliest known acting role was in a Johnson & Johnson’s No More Tears baby shampoo television commercial at age 10 months in 1969. At the age of six, she appeared on Candid Camera. Later that year she appeared in a Max Factor cosmetic advertising campaign with model Cristina Ferrare. Her work in this campaign caught the eye of fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo, who subsequently included her and her mother in his book entitled Scavullo Women.
Total Film magazine quoted Bleeth stating: “When I was a girl I used to have to force boys to kiss me. My toughest friend had to hold them down.” She has also stated that she was popular with the boys, and that female classmates had beat her up as a result.
Bleeth starred in her first movie in 1980 at the age of 12. She was cast opposite Buddy Hackett in the feature film Hey Babe!. By the time she graduated from high school, she had already been working on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope since the age of 16. In 1991, she created the role of Lee Anne Demerest on the soap opera One Life to Live.
When Bleeth was 20, her mother, Carina Bleeth, died from inflammatory breast cancer at the age of 47. Bleeth said that she never accepted the fact that her mother was dying until she took her last breath.