Paula Abdul

Date of Birth:06/19/1963
Birth Place:San Fernando, California
Nationality:American

Though primarily known as a choreographer and top-selling recording artist, Paula Abdul had a resurgence later in her career as the host of the pop culture phenomenon, “American Idol” (Fox, 2002- ). One of three panelists—which included Simon Cowell and famed music producer Randy Jackson—Abdul added a nurturing presence in contrast to Cowell’s harsh persona and Jackson’s bland assurance while a steady stream of horrid singers vied for their shot to become a star.

Throughout her career, Abdul had been the subject of severe criticism herself: wearisome comparisons to Madonna and Janet Jackson, ridicule about her weight and sharp jabs at her lack of vocal range. But once on “American Idol,” she seemed to revive her image as the sweet girl next door—until controversy dogged her once again, shedding light on the dark underbelly of her nice girl veneer. Born in San Fernando, California to a Syrian-Brazilian father and French-Canadian mother—a unique blend that gave her a distinctive look often confused as being part African-American—Abdul was drawn to entertainment after watching “Singing in the Rain” (1952) as a child. At 6, she began ballet and tap lessons, then did summer stock from ages 7 to 15, performing excerpts from musicals like “Hello Dolly” (1969) and “Gypsy” (1962). A near-obsessive overachiever, she was class president, head cheerleader, member of the science and debate teams and flautist in the orchestra at Van Nuys High School.

Meanwhile, her mother—a retired classical pianist and former assistant to Billy Wilder—warned Abdul about the perils of the entertainment industry. So instead of following her dream, Abdul attended California State University at Northridge to pursue a degree in film and television. She wanted to become a sportscaster in the Jayne Kennedy vein, but the entertainment bug continued to bite. During her freshman year at CSUN, Abdul auditioned for a spot on the cheerleading squad for the Los.

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