Place of Death
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Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Beach movies
Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Writer
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Deborah Walley was chosen Photoplay Magazine`s Most Popular Actress in 1961, the year her Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) movie was released. Never entirely happy that she had been typecast as a "Gidget," she did nonetheless appreciate that her performances and the persona she rendered had made a lasting and very favorable impression on the movie-going public. Telling of her versatility, she was performing in an off-Broadway production of Anton Chekhov`s "Three Sisters" when she learned that she had gotten the part in the Gidget film. Though best known for her Gidget roles, they did not define her, nor did they stymie her creative artistry. After moving to Sedona, Arizona, in the 1970s to raise her children, Walley co-founded two children`s theater companies there: Pied Piper Productions and the Sedona Children`s Theatre. These were vehicles through which she brought live theater to inner-city schools throughout the West Coast and Arizona. They were also opportunities for her to share with children her skills as an actress by teaching acting classes for children. It was also in Arizona that she developed a fascination for native-American culture and folklore and helped found the Swiftwind Theater Company, writing scripts and coaching local native Americans in acting. She was also instrumental in securing positions for native Americans with film crews. A notable contribution of hers can be seen in the production of the 1990 Legend of `Seeks-To-Hunt-Great` (1989) starring Michael Horse. The film garnered several awards, including the National Cine Golden Eagle, the American Indian Film Festival`s Best Short Subject Award, the Oklahoma Tribal Council Award for Best Fiction Film and the 1991 Algrave (Portugal) International Video Festival`s Best of Festival Award. In addition, she was artistic director of the Charles W. Raison Theater at the Sedona Arts Center, acting in and producing many plays. Not limiting herself to these endeavors, she also wrote scripts for her own production companies, for other educational children`s films and for Disney Animation, often performing voice-overs for cartoons. Her versatility, however, was not restricted to stage and screen; early in life, she also showed promise on the ice. She was born in Bridgeport, Conn., the daughter of Ice Capades star skaters and choreographers Nathan and Edith Walley and, from age 3, toured with her parents. Contrary to her father`s wishes that she train as a skater, she applied her talents elsewhere, studying acting at New York`s Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she made her stage debut in a summer stock production of "Charley`s Aunt" when she was 14. Television beckoned after that and Walley found roles in toothpaste commercials, a spot on The Dave Garroway Show and guest roles in numerous series. Her most notable foray into TV is perhaps the role of Eve Arden`s daughter Suzie on the 1967-69 "The Mothers-In-Law" (1967).
Central High School, Bridgeport
New York Academy of Dramatic Arts
Deborah Walley (August 12, 1941 – May 10, 2001) was an American actress noted for playing the title role in Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) and in several Beach Party films.
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1960 – 1999
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