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Paula Abdul

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-01-30

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul

There was a time in the late 80s and early 90s when Paula Abdul was barely out of the charts, notching up a string of hit singles and albums with her infectious brand of dance music.

Born in 1963 to a Syrian father and a French-Canadian mother, she first hit the charts in 1989 with the top three hit Straight Up. Her biggest hit, Opposites Attract (memorable for a video in which Paula dances with a cartoon cat) got to number two a year later. Other singles included Rush Rush, Forever Your Girl and Vibeology – but the hits eventually dried up after 1995’s My Love Is For Real, a duet with the late Israeli singer Ofra Haza.

Since then Paula, whose turbulent personal life has included a battle with bulimia and a short-lived marriages to actor Emilio Estevez and Jewish businessman Brad Beckerman, has been a regular face on US screens. As well as acting in TV movies and sitcoms (including Spin City), she’s also a judge on American Idol – the US equivalent of Pop Idol – alongside singer Randy Jackson and Mr Nasty himself, Simon Cowell. The show, which is currently filming its third series, can be seen on ITV2 in the UK.

Paula has also used her background in choreography to good effect, founding her own dance company Co Dance, and releasing an aerobics video, Cardio Dance, in 1998. And she was recently featured in a poster for The Forgotten Exodus, a campaign to highlight the plight of Jews who have had to flee from persecution in Arab countries.