1989 – No. 1 Chart Toppers Pop Hit: “Straight Up,” Paula Abdul.
Paula Julie Abdul (born June 19, 1962) is an American multi-platinum selling Grammy Award-winning singer, dancer, television personality, jewelry designer, actress, and Emmy Award-winning choreographer. She is the former daughter-in-law of actor Martin Sheen.
In the 1980s, Abdul rose from being a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team to being a sought-after choreographer at the height of the music video era, then to being a Pop-R&B singer with a string of hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s. According to Abdul, she has sold over 53 million records to date. After her initial period of success, she suffered a series of reverses in her professional and personal life, until she found renewed fame and success in the 2000s as a judge on the television series American Idol. A new album by Abdul is reported to be set for for a mid-2008 release.\
Abdul was born in San Francisco, California, to Harry Abdul, a former livestock trader and owner of a sand and gravel business, and Lorraine Rykiss, a concert pianist who once worked as film director Billy Wilder’s assistant. Abdul’s father was a Syrian Jew, who was born in Syria but who was raised in Brazil, when his family moved there, and then subsequently immigrated to the U.S. while her mother Lorraine Rykiss is also Jewish and originally from Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Canada. Her maternal grandfather was named William Rykiss and was a proprieter of the general store in Minnedosa, Canada.
She and her sister, Wendy, grew up with their mother in the San Fernando Valley. Abdul’s sister has at least two sons, both of whom briefly appear on an episode of Abdul’s reality show. Abdul was inspired towards a show business career by Gene Kelly in the classic film Singin’ in the Rain as well as Debbie Allen, Fred Astaire, and Bob Fosse.
Abdul began dance lessons around the age of eight and showed a natural talent for it. She attended Van Nuys High School where she was a cheerleader and an honors student. At 15, she received a scholarship to a dance camp near Palm Springs.
Abdul studied broadcasting at California State University, Northridge. During her first year was selected from a pool of 700 tryouts for the cheerleading squad of the Los Angeles Lakers, the famed Laker Girls. Within three months she became head choreographer. She quit school six months later.