Singer-songwriter-actress Deborah "Debbie" Gibson rocketed to teen idoldom as one of the "good girls" of pop music in the late-1980s, enjoying a friendly rivalry with fellow pop princess, Tiffany. Hit singles from upbeat efforts like Out of the Blue and Electric Youth not only topped the charts, but made the 17-year-old the youngest female artist to write, record and perform her own No. 1 song at the time. As her Tiger Beat years fell behind her, Gibson broadened her horizons with well-received work on stage in such hit productions as "Grease" and "Chicago." A nude pictorial in a 2005 issue of Playboy helped to further shed her "girl-next-door" image, and work in monster movies like "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus" (2009) gave her an opportunity to ham it up on screen as an actress. Eternally industrious and never content to rest on her laurels, Gibson continued to challenge herself with new endeavors - at times distancing herself from her teeny bopper roots, while at others, embracing them.
Born Deborah Ann Gibson on Aug. 31, 1970 in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, NY, Gibson's love of performing started early when she appeared on stage in community theater productions at the age of five. Within a few years, she was singing at the Metropolitan Opera House as part of the children's chorus. By 12, she was appearing on Broadway and already beginning to pursue a recording career. With all of this going on, the ambitious 14-year-old made her big screen debut, briefly, as a girl celebrating her birthday party at Tavern on the Green in the hit comedy "Ghostbusters" (1984).
With some help from her tenacious mother, the hard-working teen recorded a demo tape of all original compositions and went knocking on record company doors. Atlantic Records liked what they heard and after signing Gibson to a contract in 1987, released her first single, "Only in My Dreams." She was 16 years old. The song flew to the top of the charts, followed by several more hits, including "Shake Your Love" and "Foolish Beat" - making her the youngest person to write, record and produce a No. 1 song. Her debut album, Out of the Blue, sold five million copies and became a Generation X touchstone.
Years before young Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Gibson proved to be a wholesome teen hit machine when her follow-up album, Electric Youth, yielded yet another No. 1 single with "Lost in Your Eyes." With her girl-next-door looks and goofy hats, she became a household name and her music, the staple of many a high school prom. Things became interesting when fellow teen pop sensation Tiffany competed with Gibson week-to-week on the Billboard charts, giving rise to "who do you like better?" conversations on school buses and locker rooms across the country.
After a good three-year run, Gibson's popularity began to wane, affecting her record sales. Her first LP of the new decade, Anything Is Possible, made little headway on the charts. Each successive album, starting with Body and Soul in 1993 and Think with Your Heart in 1995 sold less copies than the last. In the new era of grunge and Alanis Morissette-type angst, Gibson's girlish voice no longer made an impact. So the multi-talented performer simply hung up the mic and returned to Broadway in 1992, landing a role in "Les Misérables." Gibson was quick to assure the media that even though music critics saw her return to the stage as a step down, it was actually in keeping with her original aspirations. She did not limit herself to stage work, taking on small television guest roles where she played pop idols, like on the action-adventure "Street Justice" (syndicated, 1991-93) in 1992 and the sitcom "Step by Step" (ABC, 1991-98) in 1995.
Back on stage, she starred as Sandy in the London West End production of "Grease," breaking box office records with this particular production, followed by her switching parts to play Rizzo in the American tour. After playing Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl," she played Belle - receiving her best reviews and the most press she had enjoyed in a long while - in the acclaimed 1998 Broadway smash "Beauty and the Beast." A string of stage appearances followed, including title roles in "Gypsy" opposite Betty Buckley and "Cinderella," opposite Eartha Kitt. She turned in slightly racy, more adult turns as Velma in "Chicago" and Sally Bowles in "Cabaret."
Despite her forays into the worlds of stage and screen, Gibson never strayed too far from what made her famous. Between regular gigs on "The Howard Stern Show," and guest appearances on "Hollywood Squares" (1998-2004) and "That 80s Show" (Fox, 2002), she embraced her pop star roots. She also appeared as a judge on the children's talent show, "American Juniors" (Fox, 2003). However, as part of a simultaneous effort to shake her Tiger Beat persona, Gibson officially dropped the moniker of "Debbie" in favor of the more adult "Deborah," pointing out that the former was insisted upon by record executives back in the day. To further demolish any teeny bopper delusions, she posed nude for a pictorial in Playboy magazine to coincide with the release of a new single, "Naked," in 2005.
In 2006, she joined the cast of "Skating with Celebrities" (Fox, 2006), partnering with former Canadian World Figure Skater Kurt Browning. She and Browning made it to the third episode before being cut. Gibson continued to attempt to revive her music career, and in 2006 released the single "Say Goodbye," a duet featuring former New Kids on the Block member Jordan Knight. Two years later, she starred with 1980s TV heartthrob Lorenzo Lama in the schlocky direct-to-DVD monster mash "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus" (2009), then returned to the silly sub-genre, this time alongside her former teen rival Tiffany for "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid" (SyFy, 2011). She kept the retro-reunion going when she and Tiffany embarked on a concert tour together throughout that same summer. In the fall of 2011, Gibson was announced as one of the contestants on the upcoming fifth season of Donald Trump's celebrity version of "The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ).
By Matthew Reynolds
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Music (TV Mini-Series)
Signed to Atlantic Records at age sixteen and released her first single "Only In My Dreams"
Released debut album <i>Out of the Blue</i>
Released second album <i>Electric Youth</i>
Broadway debut as Eponine in "Les Miserables"
Played Sandy in London West End production of "Grease"
Toured the U.S. playing Rizzo in "Grease"
Played lead role Fanny Brice in the revival of musical "Funny Girl"
Returned to Broadway as Belle in the musical "Beauty & The Beast"
Played the title role in the National Tour of Broadway's "Cinderella"
Graced the stage as Velma Kelly in Boston's North Shore Theatre's production of "Chicago"
Returned to Broadway for a 4 month stint as the saucy, sexy Sally Bowles at Studio 54 in "Cabaret"
Was a judge in the FOX series, "American Juniors"
Co-starred in "Coffee Date," opposite Sally Kirkland
Competed on the ABC reality series, "Skating with Celebrities"