Moore was born on November 11, 1962, in Roswell, New Mexico. Her biological father, Air Force airman Charles Harmon, Sr., left her mother, Virginia (née King), after a two-month marriage, before Moore was born. When Moore was three months old, her mother married Dan Guynes, a newspaper advertising salesman who frequently changed jobs; as a result, the family moved many times. Moore said in 1991, "My dad was Dan Guynes. He raised me. There is a man who would be considered my biological father who I don't really have a relationship with." Moore learned of him at age 13, when she found her mother and stepfather's marriage certificate and inquired about the circumstances since "I saw my parents were married in February 1963. I was born in '62." Dan Guynes committed suicide in October 1980 at age 37, two years after he separated from Moore's mother. Charles Harmon appeared on Inside Edition in 1995, making an appeal to see his grandchildren. Virginia Guynes had a long record of arrests for crimes, including drunk driving and arson. Moore broke off contact with her in 1990, when Guynes walked away from a rehab stay Moore had paid for at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Guynes posed nude for the magazine High Society in 1993, where she spoofed Moore's Vanity Fair pregnancy and bodypaint covers and parodied her love scene from the film Ghost. Moore and Guynes briefly reconciled shortly before Guynes died of cancer in July 1998 at age 54.
Moore was cross-eyed as a child. This was ultimately corrected by two operations. She also suffered from kidney dysfunction. At age 15, Moore moved to West Hollywood, California, where her mother worked for a magazine-distribution company. Moore attended Fairfax High School there, and recalled, "I moved out of my family's house when I was 16 and left high school in my junior year." She signed with the Elite Modeling Agency and went to Europe to work as a pin-up girl, then enrolled in drama classes after being inspired by her next-door neighbor, 17-year-old German actress Nastassja Kinski. In August 1979, three months before her 17th birthday, Moore met musician Freddy Moore who was married and at the time leader of the band Boy, at the Los Angeles nightclub The Troubadour. They lived in an apartment in West Hollywood.
Demi Moore co-wrote three songs with Freddy Moore and appeared in the music video for their "It's Not a Rumor," performed by his band The Nu Kats. She continues to receive royalty checks from her brief songwriting career (1980-1981).
Moore also appeared on the cover of the January 1981 issue of the adult magazine Oui, taken from a photo session in which she had posed nude. In a 1988 Interview, Moore claimed she "only posed for the cover of Oui—I was 16; I told them I was 18". Interviewer Alan Carter said, "However, some peekaboo shots did appear inside. And later, nude shots of her turned up in Celebrity Sleuth—photos that she once said 'were for a European fashion magazine'." In 1990, she told another interviewer, "I was 17 years old. I was underage. It was just the cover."
Moore made her film debut with a small supporting role in the 1981 deaf-teen drama Choices, directed by Silvio Narizzano. Her second feature was the 3-D science fiction/horror film Parasite (1982), for which director Charles Band had instructed casting director Johanna Ray to "find me the next Karen Allen." Moore then joined the cast of the ABC soap opera General Hospital, playing the role of investigative reporter Jackie Templeton until 1983. During her tenure on the series, she made an uncredited cameo appearance in the 1982 spoof Young Doctors in Love.
Moore's film career took off in 1984 following her appearance in the sex comedy Blame It on Rio. That same year, she played the lead role in No Small Affair. Her commercial breakthrough came in Joel Schumacher's yuppie drama St. Elmo's Fire (1985), which received negative reviews, but was a box office success and brought Moore to international recognition. Because of her association with that film, Moore was often listed as part of the Brat Pack, a label she felt was "demeaning". She progressed to more serious material with About Last Night... (1986), co-starring Rob Lowe, which marked a positive turning point in her career, as Moore noted that, following its release, she began seeing better scripts. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and praised her performance, writing, "There isn't a romantic note she isn't required to play in this movie, and she plays them all flawlessly." The success of About Last Night... was unrivaled by Moore's other two 1986 releases, One Crazy Summer and Wisdom, the last youth-oriented films in which she would star.
Moore made her professional stage debut in an off-Broadway production of The Early Girl, which ran at the Circle Repertory Company in fall 1986. In 1988, Moore starred as a prophecy-bearing mother in the apocalyptic drama The Seventh Sign—her first outing as a solo film star. The following year, she played the quick-witted local laundress and prostitute in Neil Jordan's Depression-era allegory We're No Angels (1989) opposite Robert De Niro.
Her most successful film to date was the supernatural romantic melodrama Ghost, a sleeper hit that grossed over $505 million at the box office and was the highest-grossing film of 1990. The love scene between Moore and Patrick Swayze that starts in front of a potter's wheel to the sound of "Unchained Melody" has become an iconic moment in cinema history. Ghost was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Moore's performance as Molly Jensen earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination.
In 1991, Moore had a supporting role in the comedy Nothing but Trouble. It was one of the biggest box office disasters of the year, but most of the blame went to Dan Aykroyd, who wrote and directed the film, as well as starring in it. That same year, she co-produced and starred in the mystery thriller Mortal Thoughts, and appeared as a blonde for the first time in the romantic comedy The Butcher's Wife, with Roger Ebert's review describing her as "warm and cuddly". Both films were box-office disappointments, but Moore sustained her A-list status with her starring roles in Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men (1992), Adrian Lyne's Indecent Proposal (1993), and Barry Levinson's Disclosure (1994)—all of which opened at #1 at the box office and were blockbuster hits.
By 1995, Moore was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. However, she subsequently had a string of unsuccessful films starting with The Scarlet Letter, a "freely adapted" version of the historical romance novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which her portrayal of Hester Prynne was met with harsh criticism. Her follow-up releases, Now and Then and The Juror, were not box-office successes. Moore was paid a record-breaking salary of $12.5 million in 1996 to star in Striptease. Much hype was made about Moore's willingness to dance topless for the part, though this was the sixth time she had shown her breasts on film. Although the film was actually a financial success—grossing over $113 million worldwide—it failed to reach expectations and was widely considered a flop. That same year she provided the speaking voice of the beautiful Esmeralda in Disney's animated adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Meanwhile, she also produced and starred in a controversial miniseries for HBO called If These Walls Could Talk, a three-part anthology about abortion. Its screenwriter, Nancy Savoca, directed two segments, including one in which Moore played a widowed nurse in the early 1950s seeking a back-alley abortion. For that role, Moore received a second Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress.
Moore famously shaved her head to play a Navy SEAL recruit in Ridley Scott's G.I. Jane (1997). The film was a moderate box-office success, but its domestic gross was only slightly more than it cost to make. During the film's production, it was reported that Moore had ordered studio chiefs to charter two planes for her entourage and her, which reinforced her negative reputation for being a diva—she had previously turned down the Sandra Bullock role in While You Were Sleeping because the studio refused to meet her salary demands, and was dubbed "Gimme Moore" by the media.
After G.I. Jane, Moore took the role of an ultrapious psychiatrist in Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, then retreated from the spotlight and moved to Hailey, Idaho, on a full-time basis to devote herself to raising her three daughters. She was off screen for three years before re-emerging in the arthouse drama Passion of Mind (2000), the first English-language film from Belgian director Alain Berliner. Her performance was well received, but the film itself garnered mixed reviews and was deemed "naggingly slow" by some critics. Moore then resumed her self-imposed career hiatus and continued to turn down film offers. Producer Irwin Winkler said in 2001, "I had a project about a year and a half ago, and we made an inquiry about her—a real good commercial picture. She wasn't interested."
Another three years passed before Moore acted again. She returned to the screen, playing a villain in the 2003 film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, but that was followed by yet another three-year absence. In the interim, Moore signed on as the face of the Versace fashion brand and the Helena Rubinstein brand of cosmetics. In 2006, she appeared in Bobby, which featured an all-star cast, including her husband Ashton Kutcher, although they did not appear in any scenes together.
Moore reunited with Blame It on Rio co-star Michael Caine for the British crime drama Flawless, which came out in a limited release in 2008 with generally positive reviews. As of 2014, her last appearance in a widely released film was in 2007's Mr. Brooks with Kevin Costner. Moore has since acted in a number of independent films, the most notable of which have been The Joneses (2010) with David Duchovny and the critically acclaimed corporate drama Margin Call (2011), where she was part of an Ensemble Cast that included Kevin Spacey, Simon Baker, and Paul Bettany.
Moore had been cast to play feminist activist Gloria Steinem in the Linda Lovelace biographical film Lovelace, but within a month of being announced for the role, she dropped out of the production in the wake of a January 23, 2012, hospitalization and what her representative called "professional assistance to treat her exhaustion and improve her overall health." Sarah Jessica Parker took over the role.
Moore starred in Wild Oats with Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange, which is currently playing on Netflix since May of 2017. In February 2017, Moore joined the cast of Empire in a recurring role.
In August 1991, Moore appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair under the title More Demi Moore. Annie Leibovitz shot the picture while Moore was seven months pregnant with her daughter Scout LaRue, intending to portray "anti-Hollywood, anti-glitz" attitude. The cover drew a lot of attention, being discussed on television, radio, and in newspaper articles. The frankness of Leibovitz's portrayal of a pregnant sex symbol led to divided opinions, ranging from suggestions of sexual objectification to celebrations of the photograph as a symbol of empowerment.
The photograph was subject to numerous parodies, including the Spy magazine version which placed Moore's then-husband Bruce Willis' head on her body. In Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., Leibovitz sued over one parody featuring Leslie Nielsen, made to promote the 1994 film Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult. In the parody, the model's body was attached to what is described as "the guilty and smirking face" of Nielsen. The teaser said "Due this March". The case was dismissed in 1996 because the parody relied "for its comic effect on the contrast between the original". In November 2009, the Moroccan magazine Femmes du Maroc emulated the infamous pose with Moroccan news reporter Nadia Larguet, causing controversy in the majority Muslim nation.
In August 1992, Moore again appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair, modeling for body painting artist Joanne Gair in Demi's Birthday Suit.
Moore was an investor in the Planet Hollywood chain of theme restaurants, along with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former husband Bruce Willis. She was an executive producer of all three films in the Austin Powers franchise, as well as the interview series The Conversation for the Lifetime network.
On February 8, 1980, at the age of 17, she married singer Freddy Moore, 12 years her senior and recently divorced from his first wife, Lucy. During their marriage, Demi began using Freddy's surname as her stage name. She filed for divorce in September 1984; it was finalized on August 7, 1985.
Next, Moore was engaged to actor Emilio Estevez. The pair planned to marry in December 1986, but called off the engagement.
On November 21, 1987, Moore married her second husband, actor Bruce Willis. She and Willis have three daughters together: Rumer (born August 16, 1988), Scout (born July 20, 1991), and Tallulah (born February 3, 1994). They announced their separation on June 24, 1998, and filed for divorce on October 18, 2000.
Moore had a longstanding relationship with martial arts instructor Oliver Whitcomb, whom she dated from 1999 to 2002.
In 2003, Moore began dating actor Ashton Kutcher, who is 16 years younger. They married on September 24, 2005. The wedding was attended by about 150 close friends and family of the couple, including Willis. In November 2011, after months of media speculation about the state of the couple's marriage, Moore announced her decision to end her marriage to Kutcher. After over a year of separation, Kutcher filed for divorce from Moore on December 21, 2012, in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. Moore filed her response papers in March 2013, requesting spousal support and payment of legal fees from Kutcher. On November 27, 2013, their divorce was finalized.
She is a follower of Philip Berg's Kabbalah Centre religion, and initiated Kutcher into the faith, having said that she "didn't grow up Jewish, but ... would say that [she has] been more exposed to the deeper meanings of particular rituals than any of [her] friends that did."
According to The New York Times, Moore is "the world's most high-profile doll collector," and among her favorites is the Gene Marshall fashion doll. At one point, Moore kept a separate residence to house her 2,000 dolls.
While she landed on PETA's Worst-Dressed List in 2009 for wearing fur, two years later she supported the group's efforts to ban circus workers' use of bullhooks on elephants.
In 2009, Moore and Kutcher launched The Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA), a nonprofit, non-governmental organization directed towards fighting child sexual slavery. Its first campaign was "Real Men Don't Buy Girls." In November 2012, the foundation said it was announcing "a new name and refined mission" as Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, which aimed "to disrupt and deflate the predatory behavior of those who abuse and traffic children, solicit sex with children or create and share child pornography".