Whatever Happened To Debbie Gibson?

Back in the late 1980s it was almost impossible to turn on the radio or switch on the TV without hearing the perky pop sounds of Teen Beat favorite Debbie Gibson. The hitmaker scored number ones on both the Billboard 200 ("Electric Youth") and Hot 100 ("Foolish Beat," "Lost In Your Eyes") during her heyday. And she wasn't your ordinary pop princess, either.

Yes, unlike most of her peers, Gibson was responsible for much of her own material, and at the age of 16 she entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest ever female artist to produce, pen, and perform a chart-topping single. And in 1989, she shared the prestigious ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award with none other than Bruce Springsteen.

Of course, as with many pop pin-ups, Gibson struggled to sustain her remarkable success. She hasn't appeared on any major chart since 1993, for example. But as fans of shark-infested B-movies, Nickelodeon talent shows, and the nostalgia circuit will no doubt already know, the New Yorker still has both feet planted firmly in the showbiz world. Here's what the former teen idol has been up to since she entered middle age.

Debbie Gibson released her tenth studio album

Debbie Gibson released her first three studio efforts in as many years back when she was an MTV favorite. But fans have had to wait a little longer in-between albums since the turn of the century. She took seven years to follow up 2003's "Colored Lights: The Broadway Album" with "Ms. Vocalist." And 11 years had passed by the time her tenth LP, "The Body Remembers," finally hit the shelves in 2021.

The record was something of a throwback, too. It included a reworking of her second U.S. number one, "Lost in Your Eyes," alongside another late '80s pin-up, New Kids on the Block's Joey McIntyre. And speaking to Billboard magazine, Gibson described the record as "Electric Youth 2021," a reference to her chart-topping 1989 sophomore, going on to add, "The variety of styles, the way it encapsulates my life right now. I really wanted to let it hang out on this album. The goal was to make an undeniably special, authentic, well-crafted and yet still raw album. I feel great about the fact we found that."

And the general public appeared to agree. Lead single "Girls Night Out" became Gibson's first top five hit on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in over 30 years. And the Houston Chronicle named "The Body Remembers" as one of its Top 10 albums of the year, remarking, "Gibson embraces adulthood but acknowledges the fizzy pop that made her a teen star."

Debbie Gibson is a Hallmark movie regular

What do Patti LaBelle, LeAnn Rimes, and Billy Ray Cyrus all have in common with Debbie Gibson? Well, apart from topping various Billboard charts, of course. Turns out, they are all pop stars who have entered the picture-perfect world of the Hallmark Channel TV movie. In fact, Gibson has graced three. But it's fair to say that her roles haven't exactly been a major stretch.

In 2015's "The Music in Me," Gibson played a singer-songwriter forced to move back home where she falls in love with a handsome stranger. A year later, she starred in "Summer of Dreams" as a former pop idol forced to move back home where she falls in love with a handsome stranger. And as its title suggests, 2018's "Wedding of Dreams" was a sequel in which the new music teacher walks down the aisle with said handsome stranger.

When asked by Smashing Interviews what first attracted her to the channel, Gibson replied, "I like to do projects that are custom tailored to my personality and to me, and this network also has an uplifting message. I was like, 'God, I get to work on music!' It seems they were taking in who I was as a person and what I wanted to project and present and really incorporated that into the story, which was a dream."

Debbie Gibson's brief stint on Dancing With the Stars

Debbie Gibson is no stranger to busting a move. After all, she was choreographed by none other than Paula Abdul in the video for "Shake Your Love." So you might have expected the former teen idol to have waltzed her way to the final of the 25th season of "Dancing With the Stars" in 2016. But as several former pop stars have soon discovered, ballroom dancing is very different to MTV dancing.

Indeed, Gibson was eliminated with professional partner Alan Bersten in week two of the hit ABC competition after failing to impress with their Argentine tango routine to Camila Cabello's "Havana." Luckily, the New Yorker, who the week previously had danced the foxtrot to one of her own hits, "Lost In Your Eyes," still gained plenty from the experience.

Speaking to "Good Morning America" after her exit, Gibson explained how much she'd enjoyed the obligatory talent show journey: "I've been through some health challenges in the past few years and I wasn't getting better in my house, laying [around] the house and going to practitioners. I said I need to get the inspiration and the joy back in my life ... I've reacquainted with my body and my strength again and it's been a blast."

Debbie Gibson judged family bands

Following in the footsteps of her former choreographer Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson first appeared as a talent show judge with the "American Idol" spinoff "American Juniors" before taking a similar role on celebrity singing show "Sing Your Face Off." And then in 2019, the star once again passed on her words of wisdom when she signed up for "America's Most Musical Family," a Nickelodeon competition series hosted by Nick Lachey.

As its name suggests, the one-season wonder aimed to discover the next Jackson 5, the new Sister Sledge or maybe even the new The Partridge Family, with The Melisizwe Brothers eventually emerging victorious. And alongside fellow singer Ciara and internet personality David Dobrik, Gibson was integral to whittling the 30 musical clans down to one.

And it wasn't just the ability to hold a note the "Foolish Beat" singer looked for, either. Referring to the victors in a pre-air interview with Hollywood Life, Gibson remarked, "I also love kind human beings. And so when I see a mix also of the talent, the tenacity, the connection to the audience, knowing who they are as a musical act, but then like you get kind people in the family, I go, okay, I'm in. Kindness gets you very far on this business too. Real kindness, not fake humility. So I was like really on the lookout for a lot of specific things and I was really thrilled with the family who won."

Debbie Gibson opened up about her past drug use

It's a tale as old as time. Squeaky-clean teen becomes massive star, faces pressures of relentless schedule and fame, starts using drugs and alcohol. And in Debbie Gibson's case, then goes on Oprah to come clean.

Yes, in 2016, the "Electric Youth" singer made headlines during an appearance on "Oprah: Where Are They Now" in which she shared she misused Tylenol PM and Xanax earlier in her career. The death of a musical legend had inspired her to dig into her experiences with Oprah Winfrey. "When I heard the news about Prince and the fact that it might have been prescription drug-related, I really had a moment of, 'That's awful and that's sad, and I can relate.' And, unfortunately, 90 percent of the entertainment community can relate." Gibson eventually recognized she needed to make a change in her life. As she said in a 2021 interview with The Guardian, "You can medicate and mask but eventually you have to stop. Or you will die."

Gibson has also opened up about her struggles with alcohol use. As she said in a piece for Retreat Behavioral Health, "For more than 20 years, I was addicted to alcohol. Take it from me — when you're living with substance abuse, your life isn't a continuous high note."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Debbie Gibson is single and 'loving it'

You might be surprised to learn that Debbie Gibson has never made it down the aisle. She did once get engaged to Jonathan Kanterman but the pair called things off before any wedding bells started to chime. And despite spending more than a decade together, her relationship with Rutledge Taylor was strictly girlfriend/boyfriend until they went their separate ways in 2019.

But despite believing that she'd be married with kids by the time she turned 45, Gibson has no regrets, telling People in 2021, "Here I am at 50: I'm solo, I'm loving it and I don't feel incomplete. I don't feel like I'm missing anything, so if I do meet someone, what a great place to be in to not be looking to someone to complete me in any way."

Of course, any potential Mr. Gibsons might have to hold fire for a while before they're allowed to make an honest woman out of the "Only In My Dreams" singer. Her pride and joy dachshunds, Trouper, Levi and Joey, are hugely protective of their owner. "I think I'm going to have to wait to date 'til I'm 65 because my dogs will not let anybody near me," she joked in People. "They're like, 'That's our mom! Paws off!'"

Debbie Gibson was diagnosed with Lyme disease

In 2013, Debbie Gibson started experiencing everything from migraines and night sweats to back pain and constant fatigue. And after a nine-month quest to discover the cause, the former teen idol was finally told by doctors that she had Lyme disease, a bacterial infection which reportedly affects nearly half a million people every year in the United States alone.

Unfortunately, by this point the condition had already started to affect Gibson's neurological system, a development which the "Rock of Ages" star told People she's still dealing with today. "l have weird nights where I feel like I drank three pots of espresso," she said. "I've come to a place where I've learned to expect the unexpected with my health, but I know I can get through it. And every time I get through it, I'm reminded of how strong we all are." She's also become less hard on herself when she takes the stage. As she said in Parade in 2019, "I no longer set out with expectations of being perfect, which has been the healthiest shift."

Those may sound like battling words, but just make sure you don't say "battle" in Gibson's presence. "I've taken that word out of my vocabulary," she said in the aforementioned chat with People. "For me, it's about being zen and open, listening for answers and yes, being a warrior, but a peaceful warrior and moving through things."

Debbie Gibson has hit the nostalgia circuit

Fans of late '80s chart music got at least five classic acts for the price of one in 2019 when they booked tickets for New Kids on the Block's Mixtape Tour. Alongside the "Hangin' Tough" boyband themselves, the bill also included the likes of hip-hop pioneers Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty By Nature and former teen pop princesses Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.

And the latter, who like the rest of her touring buddies collaborated with NKOTB on the nostalgia-heavy track "'80s Baby," told Forbes she enjoyed the experience of playing in front of such big crowds again. "I was acutely aware of the fact that I was on an arena tour," she said. "I had 15 minutes of stage time on a tour, so it wasn't my tour. But I got to feel all the feels of people singing my early hits in an arena, and I had a tour bus."

And in another interview with ET, the New Yorker revealed that she was particularly happy to be joining forces with the Knight cousins she worked with on her 2006 single, "Say Goodbye." Gibson said, "Jon was managing Jordan when that single was out so Jon and Jordan would show up at my house in L.A. and we'd go off to do a performance together. The guys are just great. It feels like a reunion of people who did the same thing at the same time, so it's easy energy — professional and grown-up, but fun."

Debbie Gibson has battled multiple sharks

You might not know that Debbie Gibson's first brush with the showbiz world came as an actor, making uncredited appearances in classic comedy "Ghostbusters" and the less classic comedy "Sweet Liberty." The multi-talent later resumed her big screen career with leading roles in "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" and "My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception." But apart from a brief cameo in hair metal musical "Rock of Ages," Gibson's more recent film career has been restricted to so-bad-they're-good Syfy originals.

In 2009, she took top billing as oceanographer Emma McNeil in franchise starter "Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus." Gibson then played animal activist Dr. Nikki Riley in "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid" two years later, with fellow teen pop princess Tiffany also in the cast. And she completed her trilogy of trashy B-movies in 2014 with perhaps the most ridiculous of them all, "Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark."

In a chat with Stereogum, Gibson shared she didn't have to think twice about being a part of such outlandish fare. "Ultimately in my life, I want to have fun," she said. "And I think there's a balance between taking yourself seriously and not taking yourself seriously. And so that was just a not-take-myself-seriously moment, and I thought, 'You know what? This is a fun way to see what my acting chops are like on screen.'"

Debbie Gibson is now in The Breakfast Club

The Washington Post once described Debbie Gibson and her fellow teen-pop princesses Tiffany, Shanice Wilson, and Tracie Spencer as music's answer to the Brat Pack. More than 30 years on and its oldest member is now starring in a semi-sequel to the scene's most iconic film.

"The Class" has been hailed by producers as a follow-up to "The Breakfast Club," the classic coming-of-age drama which put most of its teen cast on the map. Anthony Michael Hall continued his rise to fame playing student Brian Johnson in the John Hughes original. But in a table-turning role, he will be seen as the assistant principal second time around.

So where does Gibson come in? Naturally, she's part of the school's fine arts department, but her role slightly subverts expectation: the pop music icon is not the music teacher, but the drama teacher. And Hall told ScreenRant that he was impressed by her performance. "As an actor, I was pleasantly surprised by her. She was a total pro, prepared, completely natural, believable and also very likable in the film," he said. "Debbie's fans will be very proud of the work that she does in the film, and I believe she will also gain new fans who see her in our film."

Debbie Gibson has been busy renovating homes

"I kept saying we wanted to take it from cherry to cheery." That was essentially Debbie Gibson's approach when she took on the unlikely role of fixer-upper on "Secret Celebrity Renovation" in 2022. The former teen-pop princess proved to be surprisingly adept at smashing countertops on the CBS show as she helped transform her manager Heather Moore's humble Huntington Station abode.

The "Electric Youth" singer joined the likes of Nicole Scherzinger, Annaleigh Ashford, and Shaquille O'Neal on the series in which various famous faces pay it forward by giving a home makeover to a person of their choosing. And Gibson wasn't afraid to muck in with the experts, either. She told Newsday, "I'd never swung a sledgehammer in my life until this! It definitely hurt my wrist and my arm a little. But I actually kept some pieces of her old countertops as souvenirs."

The Long Island native also revealed why she chose Moore to get the DIY treatment. Referring to her Lyme disease diagnosis, Gibson said, "She stuck with me through a particularly daunting health chapter. I kept saying to her, 'Why haven't you left me? You didn't sign on for all of this.' And she was, like, 'Oh, I know you're going to be well. And you on your worst day is better than a lot of people on their best day. I'm not going to abandon ship when times are tough.'"

Debbie Gibson lost her mother

Forget Kris Jenner. Back in the late 1980s, Diane Gibson was the ultimate momager. Indeed, despite no industry experience or connections, she helped to guide her daughter Debbie Gibson from bedroom singer-songwriter to one of the world's biggest teen-pop stars. Sadly, in 2022, the chart-topper revealed that her mother had died.

In an emotive Instagram post, Debbie acknowledged the monumental impact that Diane had on her career. "Guided by her intuition, love of music, and the desire to help see my vision to its fullest potential, she stopped at nothing to help get my music heard leaving an undeniable mark on the world and its cultural landscape," the singer said. "I quite literally couldn't have done any of this without her."

And Debbie wasn't exaggerating. Diane would chaperone her teenage daughter to nightclub shows during her early years and was instrumental in maintaining the singer's squeaky-clean image and creative control. As Debbie shared on her website in 2011, her mom even persuaded a family member to loan $10,000 so the pop star could record in a home-based studio. Taking a line from one of her biggest hits, "Foolish Beat," the star ended her IG tribute with, "I could never love again the way I loved you ... and will continue to love you."

Debbie Gibson has lived out her Donny and Marie fantasy

"I grew up idolizing Donny and Marie Osmond, and I never thought that I might be a part of a Donny and Marie duo myself," Debbie Gibson told People in 2021. "It's a very special, unexpected gift in my career." The former teen-pop princess was, of course, referring to the Las Vegas residency which saw her join forces with New Kids on the Block heartthrob Joey McIntyre.

The former Teen Beat favorites took to the stage at The Venetian Resort's The Sands Showroom for eight shows in which they performed their respective hits alongside covers of classic duets such as John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's "You're the One That I Want" and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers' "Islands in the Stream." Surprisingly, though, there was no place in the set list for any of the mid-'70s chart efforts by Gibson's duo inspiration.

The New Yorker, who also collaborated with McIntyre on her comeback album "The Body Remembers," enjoyed the experience so much she told Review Journal she'd quite happily return to Sin City again with her kindred musical spirit in tow. "It needs to work for everyone, it has to be a victory for everybody," she said. "That means the audience, Live Nation, and hotel. We'll see how it unfolds. But I'm game. I'm down for it."

Debbie Gibson is reborn

Debbie Gibson made headlines in 2021 when she celebrated turning 51 by posing for an outdoor shower photo wearing a black bikini. But as the "Lost In Your Eyes" singer explained in the accompanying Instagram caption, the picture wasn't posted to titillate but to represent a new chapter that she was embracing with open arms.

But before she could get to that new chapter, a number of challenges were thrown her way. Even so, she did not lose hope. Rather, she believed the clouds would part in due time. "Inside I was still looking up and trusting that some way, somehow I was going to find myself as you see me in this picture," she wrote. "Looking up to the skies with stars showering down on me and bathed in a light that would help me project to all of you strength and joy and music and empowerment and the knowledge that the visions you hold for yourself and the voices in your own head are far more powerful than anything external threatening to take you down."

The Hallmark Channel regular, who the year previously had commemorated the big 5-0 by sharing words of wisdom with her 16-year-old self, then advised IG followers on how they could enjoy the same experience. "Once you announce to the universe that you are open to receive, it may take a moment, a year, or a decade, but you will eventually reclaim your freedom that's there inside you ... right inside you," she wrote.