Born: 1966 in Anoka, where her father and uncle co-owned a car dealership and her grandfather was a Lutheran pastor.

Early musical accomplishments: Soloed on violin with the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and was concertmaster of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.

Schooling: Valedictorian at Anoka High School in 1984.

Pageant queen: Crowned Miss Minnesota in 1988 and Miss America in 1989.

College: Graduated in 1990 with a B.A. in sociology from Stanford University.

Family: Married Casey Close, a pro sports agent whose clients have included Derek Jeter, in 1997. They have two children, Kaia and Christian, and live in Greenwich, Conn.

Broadcasting career: She got her first reporting job covering politics for a TV station in Richmond, Va. She joined CBS News in 2000 and later co-anchored "The Early Show," moving to Fox in 2005. From 2006-13, she co-hosted the morning show "Fox & Friends" with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Since 2013, she has anchored the daytime news hour "The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson."

On Fox head Roger Ailes: Calls him "the most accessible boss I've ever worked for," someone who "always has the capacity to surprise."

"Most nervous" moment on air: "When my mom came on the show for a segment on preparing traditional Swedish Christmas foods."

Doesn't mind taking flak for: "Talking about the war on Christmas. I can't think of a single other religion whose holy day is treated like a joke."

Isn't peeved with Vanessa Bayer: The comic who lampoons her on "Saturday Night Live" sometimes uses the same makeup artists as Carlson. "She asks if I'm mad at her, and I always say, 'Tell her absolutely not. She's hilarious.' "

Kristin Tillotson