Paula Abdul: Snapshot

Paula Abdul
Date of Birth
June 19, 1962
Birth Place
San Fernando, Calif.
Well before soothing the wounds inflicted on American Idol contestants by Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul kicked off her career at age 19, as a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader.

The pint-sized dancer eventually became the squad's choreographer before releasing her debut album, Forever Your Girl, which sold 12 million copies and generated four No. 1 singles. But the path to success was anything but smooth, as Abdul suffered from bulimia, two divorces (one with actor Emilio Estevez), and claims that she had a secret relationship with a former Idol contestant.

But none of this topped the headlines she made in 2007, after exhibiting some bizarre behavior that had many speculating she abused alcohol and prescription medication. Abdul adamantly denied the claims, and in 2009 decided to leave American Idol after eight seasons in 2009.

Abdul returned to TV in 2011, taking her seat at Cowell's side on the American version of his U.K. Hit The X Factor – but was let go after one season.

Paula Abdul: Five Fun Facts

  1. Paula Abdul choreographed Tom Hanks' giant keyboard dance in 1988's Big and Cuba Gooding Jr.'s touchdown celebration in 1996's Jerry Maguire.
  2. In addition to being head cheerleader at Van Nuys High School, Paula Abdul was an honor student and played flute in the school's band.
  3. Paula Abdul's mom Lorraine enrolled her daughter in dance lessons when she was nine. Abdul remembers feeling inspired by Gene Kelly's dancing in Anchors Aweigh and Singin' in the Rain.
  4. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack is Paula Abdul's favorite love song.
  5. Michael Bolton babysat Paula Abdul when she was a child.

Paula Abdul: Biography


Paula Abdul

Hoop Dreams

Abdul, a broadcasting student at California State University at Northridge, tries out for the Los Angeles Lakers Girls cheerleading squad. She's picked out of a field of 700 and becomes head cheerleader within three weeks. She quits school to go pro.


Paula Abdul

Five Plus One

At a Lakers game, some members of the Jackson family notice Abdul's moves on the court and hire her to choreograph a video for their comeback album, Victory. The big break leads to more work choreographing videos for Janet Jackson, Prince, George Michael, Duran Duran and others.


Paula Abdul


Song and Dance

Using $35,000 of her savings, Abdul records the demos for her debut album, Forever Your Girl. Her one-two punch – singing and dancing – fits perfectly within the MTV zeitgeist. Her No. 1 hit single "Straight Up" wins four statues at the 1989 MTV VMAs, and Forever Your Girl stays at No. 1 on the Billboard chart for 10 weeks and sells seven million copies.

Read More on Paula Abdul's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Andrew Macpherson/Corbis Outline


Edited by Julia Wang

Paula Abdul

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs