Jewish Entertainment:
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Paula Abdul
Dancer - American Idol Judge - X-Factor Judge

Paula Julie Abdul is an American singer-songwriter, dancer, choreographer, actress and television personality.

In the 1980s, Paula Abdul rose from cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers to highly sought-after choreographer at the height of the music video era before scoring a string of pop music-R&B hits in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Her six number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 tie her with Diana Ross for sixth among the female solo performers who have reached #1 there.[3] Paula Abdul won a Grammy for "Best Music Video – Short Form" for "Opposites Attract" and twice won the "Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography".

After her initial period of success, Paula Abdul suffered a series of setbacks in her professional and personal life, until Paula Abdul found renewed fame and success in the early years of the 21st century as a judge on the television series, American Idol, for eight years, before departing from the show. Paula Abdul then starred on the short-lived television series, CBS's Live to Dance, which lasted one season in 2011, and was subsequently a judge on the first season of American version of The X Factor with her former American Idol co-judge Simon Cowell which premiered on September 21, 2011.[4]

Early life

Paula Abdul was born June 19, 1962 in San Fernando, California to Jewish parents. Paula Abdul's father, Harry Paula Abdul, was born in Aleppo, Syria, raised in Brazil, and subsequently immigrated to the United States;[5] her mother, Lorraine M. (née Rykiss), is originally from Minnedosa, Manitoba in Canada with ancestors from Russia and Ukraine,[6][7] and Paula Abdul derives Canadian citizenship through her. Paula Abdul has a sister named Wendy, who is seven years her senior. In 1980, Paula Abdul graduated from Van Nuys High School and was voted girl with the funniest laugh.

An avid dancer, Paula Abdul was inspired towards a show business career by Gene Kelly in the classic film Singin' in the Rain as well as Debbie Allen, Fred Astaire, and Bob Fosse.[8]

Paula Abdul began taking dance lessons at an early age in ballet, Jazz, and Tap. Paula Abdul attended Van Nuys High School, where Paula Abdul was a cheerleader and an honor student. At 15, Paula Abdul received a scholarship to a dance camp near Palm Springs, and in 1978 appeared in a low-budget Independent musical film, Junior High School.

Paula Abdul studied broadcasting at the California State University at Northridge. During her freshman year, Paula Abdul was selected from a pool of 700 candidates for the cheerleading squad of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team—the famed Laker Girls. Within three months, Paula Abdul became head choreographer.[citation needed] Six months later, Paula Abdul left the university to focus on her choreography and dancing career.


1982–1986: Dance and choreography era

Paula Abdul was discovered by The Jacksons, after a few of the band members had watched her while attending a Los Angeles Lakers game.[9] Paula Abdul was signed to do the choreography for the video to their single "Torture".[10] "My only problem was how to tell the Jacksons how to dance," Paula Abdul later recalled. "Imagine me telling them what routines to do. I was young, I was scared. I'm not quite sure how I got through that."[11] The success of the choreography in the video led to Paula Abdul's career of choreographer in music videos.[12] It was also due to the success of the video that Paula Abdul was chosen to be the choreographer for the Jacksons' Victory tour.[12]

Paula Abdul choreographed videos for several singers throughout the 1980s, including many videos for Janet Jackson during her Control era. In 1995, Paula Abdul released a dance workout video entitled Paula Abdul's Get Up and Dance! (re-released on DVD in 2003), a fast-paced, hip-hop style workout.[citation needed] In 1998, Paula Abdul released a second video called Cardio Dance (re-released on DVD in 2000). In December 2005, Paula Abdul launched a cheerleading/fitness/dance DVD series called Cardio Cheer, which is marketed to children and teenage girls involved with cheerleading and dance.

In film, Paula Abdul choreographed sequences for the giant keyboard scene involving Tom Hanks’s character in Big. Further credits include Coming to America, Action Jackson, Jerry Maguire, The Running Man, American Beauty, Can't Buy Me Love, and Oliver Stone's The Doors.[13] Television credits include The Tracey Ullman Show, American Music Awards, the Academy Awards, and several commercials, such as The King's touchdown celebration, as seen in a string of popular Burger King television commercials that aired during the 2005–2006 NFL season.[13

1987–1994: Forever Your Girl and Spellbound

Paula Abdul, 1990

In 1987, Paula Abdul used her savings to make a singing demo. Although her voice was relatively untrained, her exceptional dancing proved marketable to the visually oriented, MTV-driven, pop music industry. Paula Abdul was a tireless worker, and relied on input from her vocal coach and producers to improve her sound.

In 1988, Paula Abdul released her pop debut album, Forever Your Girl. The album took 64 weeks to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 album sales chart—the longest an album has been on the market before hitting #1—and spent 10 weeks there.[14][15] The album eventually became multi-platinum in the spring and summer of 1989, and it spawned five American Top Three singles, four of them #1s (three in 1989 and one in 1990): "Straight Up", "Forever Your Girl", "Cold Hearted", and "Opposites Attract". A remix album, Shut Up and Dance, was also released and reached #7 on Billboard's album chart, becoming one of the most successful remix albums to date. The Grammy award-winning video for "Opposites Attract" featured an animated cat named MC Skat Kat.

At the 33rd Grammy Awards, Paula Abdul won her first Grammy for Best Music Video for "Opposites Attract",[16] Paula Abdul was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her song "Straight Up" but it lost to Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time".[16]

In early 1991, Yvette Marine, backing vocalist on Forever Your Girl, claimed that Paula Abdul sang "co-lead vocals" on the album and sued Paula and Virgin Records for compensation. After one month of court proceedings, Paula Abdul and Virgin won the case.[17]

Paula Abdul's follow-up album, 1991's Spellbound, contained another string of hits, and sold 7 million copies worldwide.[citation needed] The first single from Spellbound was the ballad, "Rush, Rush," which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five consecutive weeks, and was noted for its music video and Rebel Without a Cause motif featuring Keanu Reeves in the James Dean role. "Promise of a New Day", the second release from the album, also hit No. 1, and was followed by the Top 10 hit "Blowing Kisses in the Wind" and two Top 20 hits: "Vibeology" and "Will You Marry Me?".[18] The album, Spellbound, retained much of the dance-oriented formula heard on her debut album. The track "U" was written for Paula by Prince.

Paula Abdul promoted the album through the "Under My Spell Tour", which was named by an MTV contest for fans. This tour was nearly cancelled due to an accident during rehearsals.[citation needed] The tour began on schedule and ran from October 1991 to the summer of 1992. In 1991, Paula Abdul embraced advertising and starred in a popular Diet Coke commercial in which Paula Abdul danced with a digital image of her idol, a young Gene Kelly.

Paula Abdul was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 1991.[19]

1995–2001: Head over Heels and a music hiatus

By 1995, Paula Abdul had recovered from her battle with the eating disorder bulimia nervosa and prepared to return to the spotlight with her new album Head over Heels.[citation needed] The first single off the album, "My Love Is for Real" featured a fusion of R&B and traditional Middle Eastern instruments, and was performed with Yemeni-Israeli singer Ofra Haza. Its accompanying Lawrence of Arabia-inspired music video was played in theaters across the world as a prologue to the film Clueless. The single was a hit in the clubs (peaking at #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart), and made it to #28 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

The second single, "Crazy Cool", peaked at #13 on the dance charts. "Ain't Never Gonna Give You Up" was the album's third and final single. To date, Head over Heels has sold 3 million copies worldwide.

In January 1997, Paula Abdul starred in the ABC television movie Touched by Evil,[20] playing a businesswoman who discovers that her boyfriend is a serial rapist.[21] Also that year, Paula Abdul co-wrote the song "Spinning Around" with songwriter and producer Kara DioGuardi, who became a fellow judge on American Idol in 2009. "Spinning Around" was a dance-pop track intended to be the lead single on Paula Abdul's follow-up album to Head over Heels. But the album never materialized, and "Spinning Around" was instead given to Kylie Minogue. The song was highly successful, reaching #1 in numerous countries.

While Paula Abdul took a break from the music industry, Paula Abdul remained busy behind the scenes. Paula Abdul served as the choreographer for several film and theater productions, including the 1998 musical Reefer Madness and the cheerleading scenes in the 1999 film American Beauty (Paula Abdul had previously also choreographed the 1991 film The Doors). Paula Abdul also co-produced a 2001 pilot episode of Skirts, a dramatic series that would have aired on MTV about a high-school cheerleading squad; Paula Abdul was also set to appear as the head coach. The pilot never aired.[22]

In 2000, Paula Abdul’s Paula Abdul: Greatest Hits CD was released by Virgin Records (with whom Paula Abdul was already no longer affiliated). It included all her hit singles and other noteworthy tracks. The song "Bend Time Back 'Round" had previously been heard only on the 1992 soundtrack for the hit television series Beverly Hills, 90210.

2002–2006: American Idol

In 2002, Paula Abdul appeared as one of three judges for the reality television music competition show American Idol. Paula Abdul, along with fellow judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson (joined by Kara DioGuardi in 2009) evaluated thousands of amateur contestants in their ability to sing. Paula Abdul won praise as a sympathetic and compassionate judge. Paula Abdul seemed especially kind compared to fellow judge Simon Cowell, who was often blunt in his appraisals of the contestants' performances. When Paula Abdul realized that Cowell's over-the-top judging style was heartbreaking for many young contestants, Paula Abdul was so horrified that Paula Abdul considered leaving the show. Although their differences often resulted in extremely heated on-air exchanges and confrontations, Cowell says he played a major role in convincing Paula Abdul not to leave the show.[23]

While serving as a judge on "American Idol," Paula Abdul accepted a second assignment as reporter for Entertainment Tonight.

In March 2006, Fox announced that Paula Abdul had signed to stay on American Idol as a judge for at least three more years. Later that year, fellow American Idol judge Simon Cowell invited her to be a guest judge at some of the early auditions for the third series of his similar UK talent show The X Factor. Paula Abdul was present at the initial audition of the eventual winner, Leona Lewis.

2007–2009: Post-Idol projects
Paula Abdul's second greatest-hits CD, Greatest Hits: Straight Up!, was released by Virgin Records on May 8, 2007. Virgin Records also released the music videos to all six of Paula Abdul's #1 singles to iTunes. Meanwhile, Bravo began airing the reality television series Hey Paula, which followed Paula Abdul through her day-to-day life. The series was produced by Scott Sternberg Productions and debuted on June 28, 2007.[24] Paula Abdul's behavior as depicted on the show was described as "erratic" by comedian Rosie O'Donnell[25] and decried by numerous fans and critics. The show aired for only one season.

In 2007, Paula Abdul Jewelry launched its nationwide consumer debut on QVC, with the tagline "fashion jewelry designed with heart and soul."[26] Paula's first QVC appearance resulted in 15 sellouts of her first jewelry collection involving more than 34,000 pieces.[27]

In January 2008, Paula Abdul returned to the music charts for the first time in nearly 13 years with the single "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow," the first track on the album Randy Jackson's Music Club Vol 1. The song debuted on On Air with Ryan Seacrest.,[28] and Paula Abdul performed it during the pre-game show for Super Bowl XLII.[29] "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" was a modest comeback hit for Paula Abdul, peaking at #62 on the Billboard Hot 100, #11 on iTunes and #2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. Paula Abdul has reported other songs that Paula Abdul is working on such as, "Boom Box." Paula Abdul also made a brief guest appearance in season 3 episode 1 of the British television Comedy-Drama Hotel Babylon, which aired in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2008.

In February 2008, it was reported Paula Abdul was to be working on a new album.[30][31]

In January 2009, Paula Abdul hosted "RAH!," a 90-minute cheerleading competition on MTV. "RAH!" featured five collegiate squads competing in a series of challenges with Paula Abdul crowning one the winner.[32] In May 2009, Paula Abdul debuted her latest song "I'm Just Here for the Music" (originally an unreleased song from Kylie Minogue's ninth album Body Language) on the Ryan Seacrest Radio KIIS-FM show and performed the single on the American Idol results show. "I'm Just Here for the Music" reached #87 on the Billboard Hot 100,[33] becoming Paula Abdul's 15th song to appear on the chart.[34]

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on July 18, 2009, Paula's manager David Sonenberg told the newspaper that, "Very sadly, it does not appear that Paula Abdul’s going to be back on ‘Idol’."[35] This came about as a result of stalled negotiations between Paula and the show. On August 4, 2009, after numerous contract negotiations, Paula Abdul confirmed that Paula Abdul would not be returning to Idol for its ninth season.[36] The Times cited reports Paula Abdul had been earning as much as $5 million per season and that Paula Abdul was reportedly seeking as much as $20 million to return.[37]

On August 18, 2009, it was reported that Paula Abdul was negotiating to return to Idol after not taking part in season nine of Dancing with the Stars.[38] Two days later, Paula Abdul's manager said that there were not any talks with Fox, but they were not ruling anything out.[39]

Paula Abdul claimed her departure from Idol was not about money, but that Paula Abdul had to stand on principle.[40]

On September 9, 2009 Ellen DeGeneres was confirmed as Paula Abdul's successor for Idol.[41]

2010–present: Live to Dance and The X Factor USA

In January 2010, Paula Abdul presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to choreographer Julie McDonald at the 11th Anniversary show of the The Carnival: Choreographer’s Ball.[42]

In November 2010, Paula Abdul launched and co-founded, a website that allows aspiring talents to connect with casting directors, producers, and managers.[43]

Paula Abdul kicked off 2011 by serving as lead judge, executive producer, creative partner, mentor and coach on CBS' new dancing competition, Live to Dance (formerly Got to Dance)[44] Paula Abdul said that unlike American Idol, her new show is less about "competition" and more about "celebration."[45] After its first season of seven weekly shows, it was cancelled by CBS.[46]

On May 8, 2011, it was announced that Paula Abdul would rejoin Simon Cowell on the first season of the American version of The X Factor.[4] The judging panel consisted of Paula Abdul, Cowell, music executive L.A. Reid, and former Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger (who replaced Cheryl Cole). The series premiered on September 21, 2011. Paula Abdul was the mentor for the "Groups" category. Paula Abdul was called by X Factor producers about the news of her category whilst at home in Los Angeles, California. During the Judges' Houses stage of the competition, Paula Abdul was aided by guest judge Pharrell Williams in Santa Barbara, California. Paula Abdul's contestants were all eliminated from the competition, her final act Lakoda Rayne were eliminated by the public vote on week five of the Live Shows. They were the Groups category's most successful act.

In January 2012, Paula Abdul announced that Paula Abdul would not be returning as a judge for the show's second season.[47] Fellow season one judge Nicole Scherzinger and season one host Steve Jones were axed from the show that month.[48]

Personal life

Marriages and relationships
Paula Abdul was married to Emilio Estevez from 1992–1994.[49][50] Another short-lived marriage for Paula Abdul was to clothing designer Brad Beckerman, in 1996. They married at the carousel museum in Bristol, Conn. They divorced in 1998, citing irreconcilable differences.

On Valentine's Day 2006, Paula Abdul appeared on Dr. Phil as part of a prime time special on love and relationships. Paula Abdul was set up on two dates, and Phil McGraw gave her advice.

In mid July 2007, Paula Abdul announced that Paula Abdul had begun dating J.T. Torregiani,[51] a restaurant owner 12 years her junior.[52] Paula Abdul told Access Hollywood: "He is a good guy. Things are looking upwards. It's looking good right now. I wasn't even looking for someone and that's what usually happens."[53] Paula and JT broke up in June 2008,[54] citing their hectic work schedules.

Paula Abdul is still observant in her Jewish faith today [55] and is proud of her heritage. Paula Abdul once stated, "My father is a Syrian Jew whose family immigrated to Brazil. My mother is Canadian with Jewish roots. My dream is to go to Israel for a real holiday." In November 2006, Israeli Tourist Minister Isaac Herzog invited her to Israel, Paula Abdul responding with a hug, adding, "I will come; you have helped me make a dream come true."[56]

Legal issues
On December 20, 2004, Paula Abdul was driving her Mercedes on an L.A.-area freeway when Paula Abdul changed lanes and hit another vehicle. The driver and passenger snapped a photograph with a cell phone camera and wrote down the license plate number of the car, which was traced to Paula Abdul. On March 24, 2005, Paula Abdul was fined US$900 and given 24 months of informal probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor hit-and-run driving in Los Angeles. In addition to the fines, Paula Abdul was ordered to pay $775 for damage to the other car.[57]

On April 4, 2006, Paula Abdul filed a report at a Hollywood police station claiming Paula Abdul had been a victim of battery at a private party at about 1 a.m. April 2, according to L.A.P.D. spokesman police Lt. Paul Vernon. "According to Paula Abdul, the man at the party argued with her, grabbed her by the arm and threw her against a wall," Vernon said. "Paula Abdul said Paula Abdul had sustained a concussion and spinal injuries."[58]

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

In April 2005, Paula Abdul revealed that Paula Abdul suffers from a rare neurological disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS) that causes chronic pain.[59]



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