Fisher was born in Burbank, California, the elder daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens. Her younger sister is actress Tricia Leigh Fisher. She is the half-sister of actress Carrie Fisher and producer Todd Fisher, from her father's previous marriage to actress Debbie Reynolds. Her parents divorced when she was age two, and she was raised by her mother.
Fisher and her sister toured the world with Stevens, attending different schools and having tutors. Fisher graduated from Beverly Hills High School, then attended Emerson College in Boston and studied at the University of Paris for one semester.
She was named Miss Golden Globe at the 1992 Golden Globe Awards.
Her first movie role was Averil in the comedy Pretty Smart (1987), which starred her sister, Tricia. Joely then played Kris in TV's Schoolbreak Special drama Dedicated to the One I Love (1991) opposite Danielle Ferland. Next came the feature I'll Do Anything (1994) starring Nick Nolte, which helped her career as bigger roles followed.
She had a variety of guest roles on series such as Growing Pains, Blossom, Caroline in the City, The Golden Palace, The Outer Limits, Grace Under Fire and Coach.
In 1994, she was cast as Paige Clark on the sitcom Ellen. She played the role until the series ended in 1998. That same year, she earned a Golden Globe Award nomination. She also sang the theme song "Who has a perfect smile? Who has a comical style, who likes to hang out with her friends, who who? Ellen!" with Clea Lewis.
She followed Ellen with the role of Dr. Brenda Bradford in the feature movie Inspector Gadget (1999) opposite Matthew Broderick.
Fisher's Broadway debut was as a replacement in the revival of Grease (1994). She was also a replacement in the revival of Cabaret (1998). Her vocal range is alto.
Joely's career in music not only landed her on Broadway but she was featured in Albums. Her most noted album was "Tradition; a family at Christmas" which she, her mother Connie Stevens all sang various Christmas carols. She sang her own solo "Grown Up Christmas List". Her vocals are also heard singing "One For My Baby" in Harold Arlen's album "STAGE"
From 2003 until 2005, she starred in the Lifetime network's drama series Wild Card as insurance investigator Zoe Busiek. After that, she had a recurring role as Lynette's boss Nina on Desperate Housewives.
From 2006 until 2010, Fisher starred opposite actor Brad Garrett as Joy Stark in the Fox TV sitcom 'Til Death.
Fisher married cinematographer Christopher Duddy in 1996. They have three daughters, Skylar Grace (born 2001), True Harlow (born 2006), and Olivia Luna (adopted September 2008). She is also stepmother to Duddy's two sons, Cameron (born c. 1986) and Collin (born circa 1988). As of at least 2004, the family lives in Los Angeles next to Fisher's sister Tricia, with whom she is close.
In late 2008, she became an artist ambassador for Save the Children. She traveled to Xai-Xai, Mozambique, to visit with children that are part of the child sponsorship programs.
Tradition: A family at Christmas
She sang 3 songs with her mother Connie Stevens and sister Tricia Leigh Fisher. She has 1 solo: Grown Up Christmas List
S.T.A.GE. Music of Harold Arlen
"One for my baby"
Lerner, Lowe, Lane and Friends
"Come back to me."