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Debbie Gibson burned up the charts in the 1980s with teen pop smashes like "Lost in Your Eyes" and "Shake Your Love."
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She graduated with honors in 1988 and even attended her senior prom after giving the DJ one condition: "I asked them not to play my records that night," Gibson remembers. "I didn't want to intrude on the evening."
Upon graduating from high school in 1988, Gibson immediately began work on another album. She released her second and most famous album, Electric Youth, in 1989, and it held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for five weeks. The first single, "Lost in Your Eyes,
" also peaked at No. 1 on the charts, and Gibson shared the 1989 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year award with Bruce Springsteen. However, after Electric Youth Gibson's popularity as a pop star began to fade. In 1990, she released a third album, Anything is Possible, which peaked at No. 41, and in 1992 her fourth album, Body, Mind, Soul, failed to crack the top 100.
Gibson then took a hiatus from the pop music that defined her youth to remake herself—as Deborah rather than Debbie Gibson—as a stage actress. She made her Broadway debut as Eponine in the 1992 production of Les Miserables. Immediately after concluding her run in Les Mis, Gibson traveled to London to star as Sandy in a West End production of Grease. The production sold out for Gibson's entire nine-month run, shattering West End box office records.
Gibson switched parts to portray Rizzo in the Grease U.S. national tour before returning to Broadway for turns as Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1997) and Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy (1998). Fully established as a musical theater star, Gibson went on to land leading roles in virtually every popular Broadway musical of the time. Her notable performances include the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2000); the title role in Cinderella (2001); Velma Kelly in Chicago (2002); and Sally Bowles in Cabaret (2003).
A versatile and enduring talent, Gibson's musical theater career in the 1990s and 2000s proved every bit as successful as her remarkable run as a 1980s pop sensation. In more recent years, Gibson has turned to educating and mentoring young girls hoping to make it in the entertainment industry. She founded Deborah Gibson's Electric Youth, a youth camp for arts education, in 2008, and a year later she founded the Gibson Girl Foundation to provide scholarships for underprivileged youngsters to study the arts.
Deborah Gibson still has her youthful good looks—something she credits to her longtime boyfriend, anti-aging specialist Dr. Rutledge Taylor. And while she is no longer a blonde-haired teenager hopping around to catchy dance hooks while sporting bangs, a leather jacket and her signature black hat, Gibson stays in touch with her youth in a more meaningful way.
She makes regular visits to the town where she was raised, Merrick, where she still knows her old friends and teachers by their first names, and where the faded green paint of her hopscotch board still marks the sidewalk outside of her childhood home. "When you hear the name Debbie Gibson," a childhood friend said, "the lights go on in Merrick."
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