Did you know the singer had a cameo in 'Ghostbusters'?
If you've listened to pop music in the last three decades, you know the name Debbie Gibson!
The Long Island-born singer took the radio waves by storm in the 1980s, breaking through with her debut album, Out of the Blue, in 1987, and she didn't slow down from there.
ET was there for many steps along the way, and in celebration of some major milestones -- the singer was unveiled on the most recent season of The Masked Singer, and is celebrating the 35th anniversary of her first No. 1 singer, "Foolish Beat," this year -- Gibson sat down with ET to look back at some of her biggest career highlights.
From a background part in Ghostbusters, to becoming the youngest artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard number-one single, to touring around the world and starring on Broadway, Gibson's had plenty of major moments, and she was thrilled to take a walk down memory lane.
"I mean, I'm a lucky and grateful girl," she marveled. "Who gets to have this life and live their dreams? It's really been remarkable."
Read on to see some of Gibson's career highlights!
Ghostbusters Cameo (1984)
"I remember getting the call, because I was doing a lot of background acting work as a kid because I just wanted to be there. I was the birthday girl.... We filmed all throughout the middle of the night, at Tavern on the Green. And my whole family and I went to the 69-cent movie theater in town and waited for my one second of glory. When we saw me on the screen, we all screamed and everybody in the theater was like, shut up!... It's so exciting to see yourself on a big screen when you're that young."
First ET Interview (1987)
"I am so glad I didn't wear my hair like that today because that would have been really embarrassing... Seeing myself in that studio brings back so many sense memories because I lived in that room. I made all of those early demos for my albums in that room. My sisters still hate me to this day because their playroom went bye bye, in lieu of my studio. Sorry, guys."
"It was almost like being like a telephone operator, you know, centuries ago, where you physically had to take the wire to be like, I'm connecting this reverb to this track. And I used to splice tape in there. And I used to program on a sequencer, and make beats and all this stuff before GarageBand, before all that technology. I just look at that and it's like, astounding, that so much music came out of that room and became my albums."
"It's so interesting seeing that version of myself back then, because I truly am the same person. But just more evolved, like I don't think I've lost any of the joy that I see in that 16-year-old girl. And that's what's really fun about this chapter. Because I go into everything with that same enthusiasm that I had back there. Like, I still have a studio in my house now. And I made a lot of my last two albums in that room in the same very personal way. I think that when you make music in your own space, and you're not filtering it through a bunch of executives and there's not committees weighing in, that relationship to the music and to the people stays pure. I think I'm most proud of the fact that I've been able to maintain that three-and-a-half decades later. So when I see myself in a video, I think, oh my god, I'm really doing it the same way now. And that's exciting to see."
"Only in My Dreams" Music Video (1987)
"I remember how excited I was to make my first video for "Only in My Dreams," because MTV was still so fresh and new. And it was the epitome of cool. I remember I got to invite some of my friends from high school to be a part of the video. I still don't know what that priest was doing on the beach, but we'll just let that one go. It was very avant-garde for who I was. It was like really the only video that I didn't have creative control over because I didn't quite know that I could back then. And it was a new medium for me. So I really just dove in and was like, great, what do you want me to wear? What do you want me to do? And I just played and it was so much fun being on the boardwalk and in Asbury Park, New Jersey, the carousel, because I'm a New Yorker. I'm an East Coast girl, so it was really like a slice of home for me and the start of it all."
"Foolish Beat" Music Video (1987)
"It's wild that this song is celebrating such a big anniversary right now -- the 35th anniversary of going No.1. I remember doing this video, primarily shot on South Street Seaport on St. Patty's Day, so there were a lot of drunk New Yorkers yelling crazy things at me. And I was like, people, I am trying to emote! Keep it down!... I was really trying to do this serious, emotional acting job. So I kind of giggle when I see it. Because I think about how intense I was about like, I want the tears to be real... Because this song was so meaningful to me, having written it, having produced it. I was really out to do it justice with this video."
High School Graduation (1988)
"It was kind of wild to graduate with media there. In fact, I had to sign a waiver if I wanted to graduate with my class saying that if anyone got hurt due to the media that I was responsible, and my mom and I looked at each other and went, 'Eh, let's just sign it.' There was no way -- I'd come that far and I was graduating with my class.... I had a really tight-knit group of friends in high school, who I'm still friends with to this day. And it always was something meaningful to me to be as normal as I could in the midst of this kind of wild ride of teen stardom. I wanted to always keep a foot in reality, and my friends helped me do that. So graduating with my class really was important to me."
"Electric Youth" Music Video (1989)
"This is the most expensive video we ever made... I always loved including my family, and they're all immortalized -- my late grandpa, all his late brothers were in this video, and I just remember what a big thrill it was for them. If you're lucky enough to go on this ride and you can take your family along, it's really cool. It's really cool. It's really meaningful. And listen, everybody in my family sacrificed, you know... Everyone also had their lives kind of uprooted in ways that maybe they didn't sign on for. So for them to get some of the perks was awesome."
First World Tour Rehearsals (1989)
"I think we rehearsed that tour at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, which is unbelievable, because I used to go to see Billy Joel there, and like, all the big acts that were my icons. So to be on that stage rehearsing, was wild and embarking on an arena tour like that... it was exciting, because I felt like we had put in the work that got us there, me and my team."
"It's weirdly easier to play arenas than it is to play small venues -- you're feeding off of that collective energy. So it was exciting. It was really, really incredible.... I've never had the feeling like, 'Oh, I've made it. I've arrived.' Because there's always something more I want to do. And there's always the knowledge that it could all be ripped out from under you at any point if you take your foot off the gas. You just stay in it. Like, for me, there is no arrival place, you know what I mean? There's only moments -- but there have been so many spectacular moments and meaningful moments in my career."
Les Miserables on Broadway (1992)
"I had lived this whole pop career already, and got to circle back around to this dream that I had had when I auditioned at 15.... I felt such intense pressure to deliver in Les Mis every night, because it's Broadway. Since then, there's been a lot of stunt casting, but the Broadway community wants to know that there is a certain level of discipline and respect. And I started in musical theater. So I knew that I wanted to really wow people and really serve the piece and serve the role and do it justice."
"I just lived and breathed for that role...I had no other life. And that's how I wanted it. I'm so proud of the work I did in that. I see it back and I'm like, 'Oh my god, I was in Les Mis!' It's astounding to me, because it's one of the greatest musicals of all time, in my opinion."
Grease on the West End (1993)
"I got to do Grease in the West End in London. And I had never lived away from home, like, by myself. So that was kind of my year abroad, my college year. And to be in the musical Grease, to play Sandy... We had royalty coming to see us, The Bee Gees and Olivia [Newton-John], everybody was flocking. It was like, the place to be, the thing to see, and I got to originate that role in that production. I grew up such an Olivia fan, such a Sandy fan, and yeah, I really pinch myself because as a theater fan, I got to, like, check off the list of the ingenue roles that I would have wanted to play."
"My biggest Broadway dream though, is to write something original. I've written musicals. I wrote a musical with my friend, Jimmy Van Patten, called The Flunky....I do have a dream of, like, musical directing, composing, producing for Broadway. I do think my Electric Youth jukebox musical is around the corner -- I feel like it's gotta be something really, really profound though."
American Juniors (2003)
"So American Juniors had one season, because it was really uncomfortable giving critiques to kids that were that little -- they just made the overall age for American Idol lower than next year and rolled it all into one show, which made a lot of sense. But I always loved being in that mentoring role. I don't like calling it judge, because If I was on any of these talent shows as a kid... there's a certain pristine like, hit-the-bullseye-every-time quality that these vocalists have, which I'm in awe of, I don't have that. I'm like a little bit more of a rough-around-the-edges artist, to be quite honest. My voice does different things every day, and I've embraced that. So to have that like, all right, you're gonna rehearse all day, get no sleep, you're gonna hit it out of the park on a live performance -- I'm in awe of the talent on these reality vocal competition shows."
Skating With Celebrities (2006)
"I still can't believe I got out of this show alive. And with all my limbs. My tailbone has not been the same since... But I love Kurt Browning. I still keep in touch with him. He's incredible.... I literally was learning to skate from scratch. Like at this level. It was nuts. And it was so much fun."
"Caitlyn Jenner was on this season with me... and all the Jenner girls were always around in the dressing room. They were little.... It was such a fun experience. I mean, I feel like most little girls sit in their bedroom and they watch the Olympics, and they envision themselves as that skater on the podium winning the medal. I was no different. I was terrible. I was never very athletic. But I definitely wanted to give it a try."
Dancing With the Stars (2017)
"I'll tell you what was great about Dancing With the Stars, for me. I have dealt with Lyme disease for over a decade. I was in debilitating pain and fatigue that would not allow me to lift my head off the pillow at home... I had said no to Dancing With the Stars so many times because of that. And then one day, I decided to say yes, and I decided to tell my body it was time to get over it."
"I didn't go as far as I might have gone had I been doing it this year, or 15 years ago. But it didn't matter because it started me on some other paths and other chapters where I started to really mind over matter the illness I was dealing with and it was so empowering... The outcome for me for Dancing With the Stars was personal. It was about overcoming these challenging health issues I was having. I was like, I just need to get myself back in the ring. It doesn't matter if I finished second or 10th or first or whatever. And it really, really started a shift for me."
"Girls Night Out" Music Video (2019)
"'Girls Night Out' was the first music video from what became The Body Remembers album, my first studio album of originals in 20 years. I've done all this independently with my manager and producing partner, Heather Moore, and we are like, work girl power personified... Planet Hollywood gifted me their unbelievable space to fill and then they gifted me the carousel horse from the video for my 50th birthday. It was snuck into my house while I was at brunch one day. It's the most amazing thing ever. I can't believe I get to be me."
"Lost in Your Eyes, the Duet" Music Video (2021)
"My pop soulmate, Joey McIntyre! I love Joe so much, so I loved that. He called me to duet on 'Lost in Your Eyes' for The MixTape Tour. He was like, 'Um, how do you feel about sharing your biggest hit record with me?' And I was like, 'You're friggin' Joey McIntyre, yes, please!' I've gotten to know him so well, in the last four years since we've started collaborating, and he truly is my pop soulmate. So few people have gone through the journey we've gone through, from teen idol to adult performer. We've both done theater. We both have reinvented ourselves so many times.... There's conversations I can only have with Joey McIntyre. And that's what's been so special about working with him. He is a gem."
The Masked Singer (2023)
"I got the call to do The Masked Singer several times, and I couldn't do it because of my schedule. And then I got the call this time, on 15 hours notice, to fill in for someone who was sick with COVID. I was just feeling kind of crazy and said yes, even though I was on a 15-hour travel day, the day before. I didn't quite know what was going to come out because I was so tired.... I just knew it was all going to be OK. And it was my way of just trusting the universe and being like, let's just have some whimsical fun. Put on a costume. Who cares about the outcome?"
"It's funny, I've ended up doing all these reality shows, but I've never been like, 'Oh, I'm dying to do that reality show.' They've just all kind of happened and fit into my life. But really, in the reality realm, I'd love to be a judge or mentor on a talent competition show again, in this new chapter, more than anything."