Family & Companions
Attractive, flaxen-haired television personality Leeza Gibbons first came to national attention as a correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" (syndicated, 1981- ), before going on to greater fame as a talk-show host in the 1990s. As the star and producer of the long-running, eponymous talk program, "Leeza" (syndicated, 1994-2000), Gibbons steered her show to three Daytime Emmy victories. Always under the radar - but never out of the public eye - Gibbons made a splashy return to prime time in Spring 2007 when she was announced as a celebrity contestant on the highly rated competitive reality show, "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).
Born on March 26, 1957 in Hartsville, SC, Leeza Kim Gibbons was the eldest of two daughters born to Carlos and Jean Gibbons. A former high school cheerleader, Gibbons graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in journalism and mass communication. Career-focused from college, the personable Gibbons first found employment as an anchor on WLTR, a National Public Radio affiliate in Columbia, SC. She broke into TV as a news anchor at WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, SC, eventually leaving her home state to host "PM Magazine" at KFDM in Beaumont, TX, and WFAA-TV in Dallas. By the early 1980s, Gibbons was in the major markets, as co-host of the short-lived "Two on the Town" at WCBS in NYC. In 1984, the 27-year-old Gibbons' career took off when she was hired as a field correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight." A popular fill-in host, Gibbons frequently substituted for "E.T." anchor Mary Hart throughout the 80's and 90's. Gibbons also co-hosted the weekly, "Entertainment This Week." While she would spent a decade affiliated with these programs, she also accepted a number of other assignments, ranging from contributing segments to "Good Morning, Australia" to hosting such programs as ABC's "Home" and NBC's "George Schlatter's Funny People" (both 1988).
In 1993, Gibbons inked a deal with Paramount to host her own daily talk-show. "Leeza" premiered in January of 1994, during the height of the TV talk show wars. Thrust onto a crowded playing field, the fledgling show competed against a gaggle of more established and/or more outrageous talk-show competitors including Geraldo Rivera, Jenny Jones, Tempesst Bledsoe, Charles Perez, Marilyn Kagen, and Jerry Springer. Much to its credit, however, "Leeza" withstood the test of time far better than expected; even managing to stand out amid the glut of gabfests by marketing itself as a higher-brow alternative to the carnival sideshow antics of its competitors. With a style, studio set and audience demographic much closer to Oprah Winfrey's than Ricki Lake's, "Leeza" focused prominently on women's issues. Committed to making a show that could empower women, Gibbons used her clout as host - and executive producer - to steer the show's topics toward a feminist point of view.
Following the cancellation of her talk show, Gibbons landed back into entertainment journalism as the anchor for the newsmagazine "Extra" (syndicated, 1994- ) from 2000-02. In 2000, Gibbons was briefly considered as a replacement for Kathie Lee Gifford when the latter left her hostessing duties on the wildly popular morning gabfest "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee" (ABC, 1989- ). Her reluctance to relocate to New York, however (where "Live" was taped), resulted in Gibbons' name being pulled from consideration early in the running.
An occasional actress, Gibbons had small roles in a handful of commercially popular ventures. Among her most notable roles was that of the satirically bubbly news anchor, Jess Perkins, in both "Robocop" (1987) and its sequel, "Robocop 2" (1990), as well as playing herself in the campy film, "Soapdish" (1991). Her most high-profile gig in years, however, was arguably as a contestant in 2007's spring edition of "Dancing with the Stars," in which she described herself among the younger contestants as " the woman of a certain age."
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Co-hosted CBS' "Two on the Town" in NYC
Became a correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" (Syndicated)
Appeared as an "Entertainment Tonight" reporter in the film, "Maxie"
Began providing Hollywood segments to "Good Morning, Australia"
Played Jesse Perkins in "Robocop"
Hosted "Home" (ABC)
Hosted "George Schlatter's Funny People" (NBC)
Reprised role of Jesse Perkins in "Robocop 2"
Appeared as herself in the film, "Soapdish"
With John Tesh, co-hosted the short-lived NBC talk show, "John & Leeza"
Hosted and executive produced her own talk shoe, "Leeza" (NBC, 1994-1999; syndicated 1999-2000)
Received star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (May 7)
Signed by E! Entertainment TV to produce and host documentaries on pop culture
Returned to hosting duties, succeeding Maureen O'Boyle on "Extra" (Syndicated)
Hosted the Lifetime reality series, "What Should You Do?"
Joined the ABC reality series, "Dancing with the Stars"
Published the book, Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health and Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss, which tells the story of Leeza's family's personal struggle with Alzheimer's disease after her mother's diagnosis