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Mon, 01.16.1950

Debbie Allen, Stage, and Film Artist born

Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen was born on this date in 1950. She is a Black actress, director, producer, and choreographer.

Born in Houston, TX, her father was a full-blooded Native American (Cherokee).  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors from Howard University. Allen began her career on Broadway in the 1970s in the chorus of "Purlie," "A Raisin In the Sun," "West Side Story," and "Anita," which earned her a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award. She is probably best known for her role as Lydia Grant in the 1982 TV show Fame.

She was also a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

In 1988, she choreographed "Carrie" with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Allen has worked on TV’s "Good Times," "The Love Boat," "The Cosby Show," "Touched By An Angel," and "The Division." "Fame" gave Allen international prominence.

Its popularity in the United Kingdom prompted a special cast tour in England. While still a cast member of "Fame," she became the first African American woman hired by a television network as a director in prime time. In 1989, after directing episodes of "Fame," she co-wrote, produced, directed, choreographed, and starred in "The Debbie Allen Special" for ABC. She received two Emmy nominations for the direction and choreography of this variety show. She also produced and directed "A Different World."

In 1989, Allen directed a remake of the 1960 film "Pollyanna." She also directed the sequel "Polly: Comin’ Home" in 1990, "Stompin At The Savoy," "The Old Settler,” and was the producer of the 1997 film "Amistad." Allen, the sister of actress Phylicia Rashad, has been married twice: to Win Wilford from 1975 to 1983 and former NBA star Norman Nixon in 1984. They have two children.

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