"THE KIDS FROM FAME – WHERE ARE THEY NOW?"

In the 80s there was, in my opinion, a better version of the popular TV show Glee.  The show was called Fame, based on the film of the same name.   It contained drama, some cutting edge storylines for the time and great songs and dance routines.  The show was began in 1982 and ran until 1987 although it’s best years were probably the first three, as the original cast members left one after another.  The “kids” were all students at the New York High School of Performing Arts , and although they were the stars, the teachers were also much loved characters.   Similar to Glee you might say, but the one difference was, that the cast also made records and toured.   It also gave TV breaks to Cynthia Gibb and a certain Janet Jackson as well as a cameo appearance from Jimmy Osmond.

I thought it would be nice to have a look and see what the original “kids” and their “touring” dance tutor Lydia have been doing since the show ended…
Deborrah Kaye Allen (Lydia Grant – Vocals/Dance Tutor) – Debbie was in the original 1980 film in the same role and is a very successful choreographer, director, dancer and producer.  She played the tough but fair dance tutor during her time in the series.  She is the younger sister of Phylicia Rashad (Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show).  She has since won 3 Emmy’s for Choreography during Fame and the Motown 25th Anniversary Special.  She has directed TV series such as A Different World and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Debbie has still time for acting as well as producing Amistad with  Steven Spielberg!  A true all-rounder, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Carnival: Choregorapher’s Ball 10th Anniversary Show in 2009.  For her contributions to television she has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

 

Leonard Charles Curreri (Bruno Martelli – Vocals/Classical-Pop fusion Pianist) – Lee played the shy, laid back Bruno who played synths in his spare time but was battling his classically trained turor Mr Shorofsky contantly.  Lee was an accomplished pianist with various bands before joining the film version and the TV series.  Lee has since kept in the music business producing records for such diverse talenst as Natlaie Cole and Kid Creole and the Coconuts.  He has also produced music scores for various TV commercials for Nike and others and episodes of Chicago Hope among other shows.  He has also released his own album,  the rhythmic-soul project, “Aquabox”.
Erica Fawn Gimpel (Coco Hernandez – Vocals/Dancer/Diva) – Erica played singer and dancer Coco for 3 seasons of Fame and was the definite diva of the group.  Feisty and always wanting the lead roles and questioning why.  Since Fame she has acted in other films and theatre productions such as States of Shock with John Malkovic.  She is an active member of the world peace organisation SGI-USA and released her first jazz inspired music album in 2010 entitled “Spread Your Wings and Fly”.
Anthony Richard Imperato (Danny Amatullo – Vocals/Actor/Comedian) Anthony changed his name to Carlo when he pursued his acting career and is also his godfather’s name.  Carlo played Danny, the acting student and wise cracking comedian who always looked on the bright side of life with humour and to cover up personal anguish.   Carlo has appeared in a few low profile films and made a few TV appearances which included an episode of Friends.
Valerie Landsburg (Doris Schwartz – Vocals/Comedienne) – Valerie played the lovable and cute Doris, who was always the comforting support and with Danny, the comedic element in the show.  Valerie is an accomplished director, screen writer and singer-songwriter.  Her father is renowned music producer Alan Landsburg.  Since Fane Valerie appeared in a couple of sitcoms, and later appeared in episodes of Murder, She Wrote, Empty Nest, Nip/Tuck amongst other shows.  In 2001 she released an album of her own compositions which included a re-recording of “Hi-Fidelity”, the big hit from Fame that she sang lead vocals on.
Lori Singer (Julie Miller – Vocals/Cellist) – Lori is a brilliant cellist as well as prolific actress.  She is also probably best known as Ariel in the 1984 film Footloose.  Coming from a Jewish family, her father is famous conductor, Jacques Singer and her brother is actor Marc.  Lori played Julie in Fame, a quiet, introspective girl who always seems to feel like an outsider even surrounded by friends she makes.  Since Fame she has continued to play cello music and appeared in numerous film roles such as The Falcon and the Snowman, Warlock and Short Cuts.  Lori also played at Carnegie Hall in 2008 as soloist in a memorial for Martin Luther King.
Gene Anthony Ray (Leroy Johnson – Vocals/Dancer/Street kid Diva) – Perhaps the saddest story of this look back on the Kids From Fame is left to the last.  Gene was a professional dancer and choreographer and played the role of Leroy in the film version of Fame too.  Leroy was a troubled street kid who despite thinking of himself a tough guy he just wanted to dance.  Gene died in 2003 after complications arose from a stroke.  His career nosedived after problems with partying, drugs and drink.  He was fired from the show due to these problems.  He appeared in only a few roles, mainly as a dancer, notably Austin Powers: Goldmember and Out of Sync in 1995 directed by Fame co-star Debbie Allen.  In 1996 he was diagnosed as being HIV positive although he denied any references to his sexuality, once lived with a porn star and never married.
So there you have it, some of the Kids have fared better than others, some have had varying success while others did not and one had a very sad ending.  I personally loved this show as an Eighties’ teen and bought the albums to accompany it.  The songs were sad, bright, funny and the cast very talented.
I leave you with a couple of video clips.

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