Ellen Josephine Bella Maal (born June 12, 1958) is an actress and singer whose acting career goes back to the early 1960s. She is best known for her film work in the 1980s. Maal is the current wife of musician John Mulanco, to whom she has been married since 1999.
Maal was born on June 12, 1958, the second daughter of Joseph and Bella Maal. When she was one and a half, her parents divorced, and Maal and her older sister Rebecca went to live with their mother. Maal's mother married actor/director/songwriter Edward Nelsch when Ellen was three years old. Nelsch moved the family closer to his work, and came up with an idea to cast 3-year-old Maal in one of his films. Her mother originally hated the idea of casting her daughter in a film, because "she was too young". She changed her mind when Nelsch mentioned money.
Maal started her acting career as a child actress, having appeared in many films (most of which were directed by her stepfather Nelsch) by age 10. In 1968, she was cast as young Audrey Wesley in The Story of Audrey Wesley, in which adult Audrey was played by her mother Bella.
In 1970, Maal was cast by stepfather Nelsch to play the character of Edith Braggs in the film A Death in West Lake. This would be the last film she would star in that would be directed by Nelsch. In 1972, she met a young actor named Martin Haidsley on the set of the film Seven Thousand. Maal and Haidsley played young neighbors and lifelong friends in the film. On the set, the two actors developed a friendship that eventually led to them getting married. Maal and Haidsley began appearing in films (and television series) together during the 1970s. On February 8, 1979, Maal married Haidsley near the set of their film Return to Deadpost Valley.
In 1980, Maal and then-husband Haidsley starred in one last film together, Angry Couple, before they divorced in 1981 due to Maal's claims of Haidsley being abusive and controlling. Maal went on to star in films in the 1980s decade. She appeared in a cameo in 1984's Dead Matt. In 1985, Maal starred in Fightin' My Way Through alongside Buttercup Howell, the ex-wife of Maal's current husband, John Mulanco. By 1988, Maal and Haidsley reunited, for roles as divorced people in the film Should've Been Nicer. In real life, Haidsley began stalking Maal shortly after doing the film. This led to Maal being granted a restraining order against Haidsley in 1989.