Daily Express The real Cost Of Fame August 2009

AS the film remake of the popular Eighties TV series hits the big screen we discover the trumphs and tragedies in the lives of the original all-star cast.

Debbie Allen, 59, played dance teacher lydia Grant 
She was the tough but dedicated dance teacher in the 1980 movie and the 1982 TV series, for which she won two emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. She told students: “You’ve got big dreams? You want fame?

Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying... in sweat.” Now she’s back at the New York City high School of Performing Arts in the 2009 re-make as principal Angela Simms.

In between the mother of two has been busy. She was producer director of 1987-1993 TV series A Different World.

She released two solo albums, 1986’s Sweet Charity and 1989’s Special Look and worked with Steven Spielberg on Amistad, the 1998 film about slavery.

In 2008 she directed Tennessee Williams’s Cat On A hot Tin Roof on Broadway and is bringing it to London’s West end on December 1. 

She is a judge on US dance reality show So You Think You Can Dance.

Albert Hague played  music professor benjamin Shorofsky.
He died from cancer in 2001 aged 81. BORN into a Jewish family in Berlin he was raised as a Lutheran to protect him from Nazi persecution. In 1937 he fled Germany, fearing he was about to be inducted into the Hitler Youth and
went to Italy.

After attending a music conservatory in Rome he obtained a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati and emigrated to the US in 1939. When Fame came calling he had never acted but was an award-winning composer and writer of

Broadway musicals. he was told all he had to do was play himself – and grow a beard. After Fame he appeared in Not Just Another Affair (1982), Passions (1984) and TV shows such as Murder She Wrote.

As well as his TV career he and his wife Renee ran workshops for students who could not afford to go to music college. The couple later toured America performing his Broadway hits and he wrote his autobiography From Ellis  Island To Fame.

Pr Paul, 53, played drama student Montgomery Macneil
PR PAUL went from Fame riches to the rag trade. He now runs the family business: a clothes shop in New York’s exclusive Fire Island. He was guitarist and singer for a pop group called Raw Meat and has appeared in such films as Snowballing (1984) and Neon Maniacs (1986).

Lee Curreri, 48, played music student bruno Martelli
BRUNO was modelled on Lee, who appeared in the film and TV series of Fame. He is now a successful musician, composer and producer, penning music for such TV series as Chicago hope as well as commercials. He has produced songs for Natalie Cole and Kid Creole And The Coconuts and has worked as a keyboard player for such stars as Olivia Newton-John. He has also written the scores for MTV’s Liquid Television series and has released a CD of transcendental music entitled Aquabox.

Erica Gimpel, 45, played music, drama and dance student
Coco Hernandez Erica was one of the pupils at the real high School Of Performing Arts in New York City when she was cast as the feisty singer.

She still works as a television actress and appeared for six seasons as Adele Newman in eR as well as taking guest spots on such US shows as Law And Order, house and Boston Legal. Despite appearing in the hit movie Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis she never soared to the kind of heights that the Fame kids aspired to.

Of her Fame days she says: “Sometimes you meet someone in the business and they tell you how Fame inspired them. Then I think, ‘Wow! I helped to make a difference.’

“I still feel very proud of the show’s message.”

Lori Singer, 51, played musician Julie Miller
Like her character, Lori was a cellist. After appearing in the first two seasons of Fame she played Kevin Bacon’s girlfriend Ariel Moore in the 1984 film Footloose.

Madonna reportedly auditioned for the same role.

After Footloose she starred in a number of films including The Falcon And The Snowman with Sean Penn and The Man With One Red Shoe with Tom hanks. In 1998 she divorced her lawyer husband of 16 years, Richard emery, suing him for millions after claiming that he stole her earnings while he was her busi- ness manager.

Today she devotes a lot of time to charitable work and lives with  ‘As Shorofsky, Albert just had to play himself’

‘If someone says it inspired them, I think wow’ her 18-year-old son Jacques Rio in Manhattan.

VALERIE LANDSBURG, 50, played music student Doris Schwartz

IT WAS only after the show that Valerie confessed it had driven her to drink and drugs. She sobered up with counselling in the late Eighties but has said: “I was a big drunk and I did drugs as well. I’m just thankful the fans never noticed.”

She is directing and acting in the theatre and is married to composer James McVay. She says her greatest works to date are their children Taylor, 22, and Brooklyn, 17.

GENE ANTHONY RAY played dance student Leroy Johnson. He died aged 41.

A TALENTED dancer who grew up in Harlem, Gene was one of the show’s biggest stars and received 17,000 fan letters a day.  But his life was rocked by scandal. His mother was jailed for drug dealing and he developed a drink-drugs habit.

He was dismissed from the show in 1984 for repeatedly not turning up at work. After Fame he appeared in the musical based on Stephen

King’s horror story Carrie and danced with The Weather Girls in the video It’s Raining Men in 1988.

He moved to Milan to set up a dance school but it didn’t take off. In 1995 he was diagnosed HIV positive and eight years later died from complications after a stroke.

CAROL MAYO JENKINS, 70, played teacher Elizabeth Sherwood

MRS SHERWOOD used to clash with Leroy over his reluctance to learn until she realised he needed extra help with his studies. After the series ended Carol switched to theatre work.

She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and dances most days. She recently starred in a stage production of The Glass Menagerie and still has her Fame leg warmers.

CARLO IMPERATO, 46, played student Danny Amatullo

CARLO credits the show with saving him from a life of crime and giving him the chance to escape New York’s Bronx, where he grew up.

After Fame he did theatre work and had a small role in Friends in 1995. Today he is a carpenter on fi lm sets in LA. He also teaches drama, owns several branches of the Golds Gym franchise and helps his wife

Angela run her beauty salon. ‘As Leroy, Gene had 17,000 fan letters a day’ radar for long.

Big things are expected for dance reality TV show winner Kherington Payne who plays dancer Alice and Naturi Naughton, from all-girl group 3LW, who is singer/pianist Denise. Actor and Calvin Klein model Collins Pennie is actor/ rapper Malik and Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, who is Ashley DeWitt in Hannah Montana, plays actress Joy.

Fame is out on September 25 at cinemas nationwide.

By Maggie Mallon

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