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Paula Abdul

(1962 - )

Paula Julie Abdul is a Jewish American dancer, choreographer, singer and television personality who began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.

Abdul (born June 19, 1962) was born in San Fernando, California to a French-Canadian mother; her father is of Syrian Sephardic Jewish origin.

Abdul started choreographing for the Jacksons and got her big break as the choreographer for the 1980's videos of singer Janet Jackson. In 1988, she released her debut album "Forever Your Girl" and became a smash hit star. The album spawned five American Top Five singles (out of just ten songs): "Forever Your Girl," "Opposites Attract," "Straight Up," "Cold Hearted," and "The Way That You Love Me."

Her follow-up album, "Spellbound," released in the early 1990's, unleashed the American Top Ten ten hits "Rush, Rush," "Vibeology," "Promise of a New Day," "Will U Marry Me," and "Blowing Kisses in the Wind." The single "Rush, Rush" surprised many fans and critics at the time of its release, not only for its lush, stripped-down production values and engaging lyrics, but also because it was a ballad.

Abdul took a break from the business and resurfaced in 1993 with an exercise video. In 1995, she participated in an ABC television interview with Diane Sawyer in which she discussed her weight problem and her personal battles with bulimia.

In 1995, Abdul released her fourth album, "Head Over Heels." The singles "My Love Is for Real," "Crazy Cool," and "Ain't Never Gunna Give You Up," were modest hits. "My Love Is for Real" fused R&B and traditional Middle Eastern instruments. "Head Over Heels" remains Abdul's lengthiest in terms of the number of tracks and it also spawned three b-sides: "Didn't I Say I Love You," "Crazy Love" and "High School Crush."

In the year 2000, Abdul's Greatest Hits CD was released, featuring an array of hit singles from all three of her previous albums, as well as other noteworthy tracks. The song "Bend Time Back Round," included on the CD, had only been heard previously on the 1993 soundtrack of the hit television series "Beverly Hills 90210."

In 2002, Abdul was offered the job as one of the three primary judges for the music reality show American Idol. Abdul won praise as a sympathetic and compassionate judge and used her newfound popularity to resurface at awards shows and was even given the job of co-anchor on the television magazine program Entertainment Tonight.

In 2009, Abdul's stint on American Idol came to a close, but less than two years later she rejoined Simon Cowell to help judge a new reality show, The X Factor. Abdul only stayed on X Factor for one year and would later host a variety of other reality shows and competitions.

In November 2004, Abdul was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

In October 2013, after a delay of more than four decades, Abdul realized a lifelong dream and traveled to Israel to have her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Her trip included stops in the Galilee and a visit with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Sources: Wikipedia; Times of Israel (October 28, 2013)