Michelle was born in Santa Ana, California on April 29, 1958 to parents Dick and Donna Pfeiffer. She graduated from high school in 1976 and went on to do various small jobs and to study as a court reporter. Michelle decided that court reporting was not the job for her, and turned her attention to becoming a full time actress.
Michelle's breakthrough role was in the television series Delta House in 1979. From there, she has gone on to star in several major films including Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Batman Returns.
Michelle currently lives in Palo Alto, California with her children, Claudia Rose and John Henry.