Deborah Walley

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Deborah Walley
Deborah Walley.JPG
Walley in the late 1960s
Born(1941-08-12)August 12, 1941
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedMay 10, 2001(2001-05-10) (aged 59)
Sedona, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death
esophageal cancer
OccupationActress
Years active1960 – 1999
Spouse(s)John Reynolds (?-?) (divorced) 1 child
John Ashley (1962-1966) (divorced) 1 child
Chet McCracken (1968-1975) (divorced)
 
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Deborah Walley
Deborah Walley.JPG
Walley in the late 1960s
Born(1941-08-12)August 12, 1941
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedMay 10, 2001(2001-05-10) (aged 59)
Sedona, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death
esophageal cancer
OccupationActress
Years active1960 – 1999
Spouse(s)John Reynolds (?-?) (divorced) 1 child
John Ashley (1962-1966) (divorced) 1 child
Chet McCracken (1968-1975) (divorced)

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.

Life and Career[edit]

She was born in Bridgeport in southern Connecticut to Ice Capades skating stars and choreographers Nathan and Edith Walley. She attended Central High School in Bridgeport. At fourteen, she was playing summer-stock theatre. During her sophomore year, she attended Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she was cast as Cinderella in the Academy's annual musical production at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, Florida. She studied acting at New York City's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She began working on stage in the city. She was discovered by agent Joyce Selznick in a performance in a production of Anton Chekov's Three Sisters. This led her to make her Hollywood film debut as Gidget[1] in 1961's Gidget Goes Hawaiian. From then until 1974 she appeared in fifteen feature length films, including several of the "Beach Party" films produced by American International Pictures.[2] She also co-starred in the Elvis Presley film Spinout where she and Elvis bonded over a shared interest in spiritual matters.[3]

In 1967, with her movie career starting to decline, Walley portrayed Suzie Hubbard Buell in the comedy series The Mothers-in-Law, Comedienne Eve Arden playing her mother and singer-comedienne Kaye Ballard playing her mother-in-law. Actress Kay Cole (A Chorus Line) had played Suzie in the original pilot but was replaced by Walley, who played her through the series' two seasons on the air.

After moving to Sedona, Arizona to bring up her children, Walley co-founded two children's theater companies, Pied Piper Productions and the Sedona Children's Theatre.

Personal life[edit]

From 1962 to 1966, Walley was married to actor John Ashley, a costar of ABC's Straightaway series about auto racing from 1961–1962. The couple had a son, Anthony Brooks Ashley, before they divorced. John Ashley preceded his former wife in death by four years. On his gravestone, the inscription says that he was a "loving husband and father."

Walley succumbed to esophageal cancer on May 10, 2001, in Sedona.[4] She was survived by two of her three sons: Anthony Brooks Ashley, a director, editor, and producer in Hollywood; and Justin Ashley Reynolds, an internet entrepreneur in Phoenix, Arizona.

Filmography[edit]

Film and Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1960Naked CityHeather WestonEpisode: "To Walk in Silence"
1960Route 66Helen PageEpisode: "Ten Drops of Water"
1961Gidget Goes HawaiianGidget (Frances Lawrence)
1962Bon Voyage!Amy Willard
1963Summer MagicJulia Carey
1964Burke's LawGwenny TrentEpisode: "Who Killed Andy Zygmunt?"
1964Greatest Show on Earth, TheThe Greatest Show on EarthAnneEpisode: "This Train Don't Stop Till It Gets There"
1964Young Lovers, TheThe Young LoversDebbie
1964Wagon TrainNancy StylesEpisode: "The Nancy Styles Story"
1965Beach Blanket BingoBonnie Graham
1965Ski PartyLinda Hughes
1965Sergeant DeadheadAirman Lucy Turner
1965Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini MachineCraig's Cafeteria Date
1966Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, TheThe Ghost in the Invisible BikiniLili Morton
1966Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.Tina TracyEpisode: "Lies, Lies, Lies"
1966SpinoutLes
1966Bubble, TheThe BubbleCaterine
1967It's a Bikini WorldDelilah Dawes
1967-1969Mothers-in-Law, TheThe Mothers-in-LawSuzie Hubbard Buell56 episodes
1970Virginian, TheThe VirginianCorey Ann SkeetEpisode: "With Love, Bullets and Valentines"
1971Drag RacerChris
1972Love, American StyleNinaEpisode: "Love and the Anxious Mama"
1973Severed Arm, TheThe Severed Arm
1974BenjiLinda
1978Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, TheThe Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew MysteriesGina BartelliEpisode: "Mystery on the Avalanch Express"
1986Simon & SimonGigi DoloresEpisode: "The Last Big Break"
1989Chip 'n Dale Rescue RangersLahwhinie (voice)Episode: "Gadget Goes Hawaiian"
1990Chip 'n Dale Rescue RangersBuffy Ratskiwatski / Foxglove (voice)Episode: "Out of Scale"
Episode: "Good Times, Bat Times"
1999BaywatchEthelEpisode: "Baywatch Grand Prix"

Awards[edit]

Walley was named Photoplay magazine's 'Most Popular Actress of 1961'.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lisanti, Tom (2000). Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies. McFarland. p. 294. 
  2. ^ a b Deborah Walley at Central High School, Bridgeport CT
  3. ^ Eleanor Quin. "Spinout (1966)". Turner Classic Movies. 
  4. ^ "Deborah Walley; Actress, 57" (obituary), New York Times, May 15, 2001

External links[edit]