Deborah Harry

Active - 1976 - 2019  |   Born - Jul 1, 1945 in Miami, Florida, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Music, Comedy Drama, Culture & Society

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Biography by Tracie Cooper

Frontwoman of new wave singing ensemble Blondie, the photogenic Deborah Harry ultimately became a familiar face -- and voice -- on big and small screens alike. Though Harry was able to land small roles in television's Tales From the Dark Side and the independent film The Foreigner (1978), she wouldn't truly prove her acting ability until her role as the wife of a neurotic businessman in 1979's Union City. In 1983, after having penned the soundtrack for 1981's Polyester, Harry starred in the controversial Videodrome, which revolved around a television station's efforts to provoke its viewers to commit murder. Despite a promising beginning, Harry dropped all of her singing and acting commitments to help care for Blondie guitarist Chris Stein after he fell ill in 1984.

The mid-'80s found Harry making a series of vocal contributions to film, though. After performing with Jim Henson's Muppets and contributing to the soundtrack of 1986's The Money Pit, Harry would play the title role in Forever, Lulu (1987), which featured Alec Baldwin in his first film appearance. In 1988, Harry could be seen in John Waters' camp hit Hairspray in the role of Velma Von Tussle, proud wife of a rock icon and relentless stage mother. After a brief performance in New York Stories (1989), Harry was, for the most part, heard and not seen in several animated series and various rock documentaries throughout the early '90s. This would change, however, in 1995, when she won critical praise for her portrayal of a world-weary small-town waitress in James Mangold's Heavy. Afterward, the singer/songwriter showed an admirable versatility, and was as enthusiastic about her role in Cop Land (1997) as she was for her part in The Fluffer (2001), a harsh gay & lesbian-themed erotic drama.

The early 2000s proved one of the busiest periods of Harry's film career. After co-starring as a seductive saleswoman in All I Want (2002), Harry went on to perform in Deuces Wild (2002), Spun (2002), Ghostlight (2003), and A Good Night to Die. She also contributed to The Tulse Luper Suitcases, iconoclastic director Peter Greenaway's highly surrealistic franchise. Also in 2003, Harry starred quite successfully opposite rising stars Sarah Polley and Mark Ruffalo in the Spanish/Canadian collaboration My Life Without Me. She would go on to appear in films like Full Grown Men, Anamorph, and Elegy.

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  • Adopted when she was three months old.
  • Worked as a Playboy bunny and as a waitress prior to her Blondie breakthrough.
  • Released her first album in 1968 with a folk-rock group called Wind in the Willows.  
  • Founded Blondie with Chris Stein in 1974; the group released its eponymous debut two years later.
  • Part of the legendary mid-'70s punk-rock scene at the Manhattan club CBGBs; other future stars included the Ramones, Patti Smith and Talking Heads. 
  • Sold more than 20 million copies of Parallel Lines, the classic 1978 Blondie album that featured the hit "Heart of Glass."
  • Introduced the wider pop-rock audience to rap with the No. 1 Blondie hit "Rapture" in 1981. 
  • Released her solo debut, KooKoo, in 1981; it was produced by Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.
  • Suspended her career during the mid-'80s to care for boyfriend/Blondie bandmate Chris Stein, who was felled by pemphigus, a rare, potentially fatal disease.
  • Inducted with Blondie into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.