During the late 1970s, Debbie Harry achieved fame as the frontman of New Wave band Blondie, which she formed with guitarist Chris Stein. Previously breaking the charts with singles like “Heart Of Glass,” “One Way Or Another” and “Atomic,” the group resurfaced on the music scene with No Exit (1999), whose lead single “Maria” made Harry break the Guinness record for the Oldest Female Singer to Reach No. 1 in the UK Chart.
Beginning her solo endeavor with the flopped album Koo Koo (1982), Harry later released four other studio albums and worked for movie soundtracks. She also branched out to acting with such roles as Lillian in Marcus Reichert’s Union City (1980), the red-haired Nicki Brand in Videodrome (1983) and Velma Von Tussle in John Waters’ comedy Hairspray (1988).
Harry, who was included in the 1981 Harper’s Bazaar “10 Most Beautiful Women in America” list and VH1’s “100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll” record, admitted she has had a face-lift. In 2006, the former longtime girlfriend of Chris Stein became one of the faces for MAC Cosmetic’s Viva Glam VI campaign. The campaign donates all proceeds from the sales of their lipstick to the MAC AIDS Fund.
Wind In The Willows
Childhood and Family:
Born on July 1, 1945, in Miami, Florida, Deborah Ann Harry (later famous as Debbie Harry) was adopted and raised by Richard and Catherine Harry in Hawthorne, New Jersey, when she was only three months old. She then attended Hawthorne High School and New Jersey’s Centenary College.
Once working as a waitress, bar dancer and Playboy Bunny, Debbie finally pursued a musical career with a folk rock group named The Wind In The Willows. While singing with the girl-group trio The Stilettos, she met future professional and private partner Chris Stein. With him as a guitarist, Debbie later enjoyed fame with their New Wave band.
She and Chris were together from 1974 to 1987. In the mid 1980s he was ill and Harry trimmed down her entertainment activities to care for him.
Failed Koo Koo
After briefly playing music with The Stilettos, Debbie Harry (and guitarist Chris Stein) formed a New Wave band called “Blondie” in the mid 1970s and recruited drummer Clem Burke and keyboardist Jimmy Destri. The band’s name referred to previous men’s catcalls addressed toward Harry.
Subsequent to their regular performance in New York City clubs, Harry and her Blondie mates recorded a self-titled debut album (released in 1976). Gradually, Harry’s fame was strengthened with Blondie’s albums Plastic Letters (1977, spawned the hit single “Denis”), Parallel Lines (1978, had gold chart-ruling tracks “Heart Of Glass,” “One Way Or Another,” “Hanging On The Telephone” and “Picture This”) and Eat To The Beat (1979, singles included “Dreaming” and “Atomic”).
Meanwhile, Harry’s iconic look also brought the singer to the movie world, where she first appeared in Unmade Beds (1976). She then took the part of Dee Trik in the indie movie The Foreigner (1978) and starred as Lillian, a frustrated wife, in Marcus Reichert’s Union City (1980). Harry also played herself in the music-themed movie Roadie (1980) and the kid series “The Muppet Show” (1980). In 1981, Harry provided the songs “Be My Daddy Baby,” “The Best Thing” and the title song for the soundtrack of John Waters’ cult hit film Polyester.
A year later, however, Blondie disbanded and Harry began to build a solo career with the debut album Koo Koo (1982), which became a commercial flop. While reducing her musical endeavors to help an ill Chris Stein, the artist tried acting on stage with a role in Broadway’s “Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap” (1983). Also in 1983, she shared movie frame with James Woods in Videodrome, in which she was seen with red hair as Nicki Brand. In addition, Harry was involved in the soundtrack for Scarface (1983, sang and wrote “Rush Rush”) and Krush Groove (1985, sang “Feel The Spin”).
After the second solo album Rockbird (1986, had a Top 8 single “French Kissin’ In The USA”), Harry portrayed the title character in the horror movie Forever, Lulu (1987) and then rejoined director John Waters in his comedy Hairspray (1988), where she was cast as Velma Von Tussle, the wife of Sonny Bono’s character. The singer continued her musical journey with the albums Once More Into The Bleach (1988) and Def, Dumb and Blonde (1989), the latter of which set off the No.2 US Modern Rock single “I Want That Man.” The performer also made a recurring appearance as Diana Price in the series “Wiseguy” (1989) and followed it up with performances in the TV film Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme (1990), the direct-to-video The Real Story of O Christmas Tree (1991) and the TV thriller Intimate Stranger (1992, portrayed Cory Wheeler).
A year later, Harry hit No.2 on the US Dance chart with the song “I Can See Clearly,” from her album Debravation (1993). On screen, she provided her vocals for Vaingloria in the animated series “Phantom 2040” (1994), took part in the little-seen comedy Drop Dead Rock (1995) and played Cassandra in the pilot episode of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1996).
Harry, who has collaborated with such artists as Jazz Passengers and Iggy Pop, was featured in a single by Groove Thing titled “Command and Obey” (1997) and sang duet with Robbie Jacks in “Der Einzige Weg (The Only Way)” (1998). It led to her reunion with Blondie members, which resulted in the studio album No Exit (1999) with the lead single “Maria.” Thanks to the chart-topping single, Harry broke the Guinness record for The Oldest Female Singer to Reach No.1 in the UK (2003).
After starring in the NYC staging of the late Sarah Kane-written “Crave” (2000), Harry was involved in the film The Fluffer (2001, appeared as Marcella), the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002, voiced Delores) and the comedy Ghostlight (2003, played herself). Harry also hit the music scene once more with Blondie’s next album The Curse Of Blondie (2004), as well as with her collaboration with Moby in the song “New York, New York,” from the album Go: The Very Best of Moby (2006). In May 2006, the singer and Blondie members toured with The New Cars on the so-called Blondie’s farewell tour.
As an actress, Harry starred as Margaret, alongside Gary Ray, in the short film I Remember You Now (2005). She recently acted with Alan Cumming in David Munro’s comedy drama Full Grown Men (2006). In 2007, the artist will have roles in the Willem Dafoe-starring thriller Anamorph and the musical romance drama House of Boys.