Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on August 12, 1941, to parents who were professional ice skaters in Icecapades, as a child Deborah Walley was more interested in dramatics rather than skating, so her parents enrolled her in drama classes. In her teenage years she began getting good notices in off-Broadway stage productions, but her acting career took off when she was cast in the starring role in her first film, Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961; with James Darren). After her stint as Gidget, Walley then made a few Disney films, such as Bon Voyage! (1962; with Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk). However, she soon returned to beach party and youth-oriented films, most notably at American International (AIP), where she acted in a number of beach party genre movies. Walley starred in such films as Ski Party (1965; with Frankie Avalon and Yvonne Craig), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965; with Annette Funicello and John Ashley), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966; with Tommy Kirk and Boris Karloff), and It's a Bikini World (1967; with Tommy Kirk). In addition, she also dabbled in singing, first doing numbers for Sergeant Deadhead (1965; with Frankie Avalon and Eve Arden) and Ski Party, which showcased her pleasant voice, and she released a few singles in 1965 and 1966.

Deborah WalleyDeborah WalleyDeborah WalleyJohn Ashley and Deborah Walley

LEFT: Campy Halloween promotional photo from 1965. CENTER A: On the hood of a Plymouth Barracuda. CENTER B: Early 1970s photo. RIGHT: With first husband John Ashley in 1962

Walley married American International contract actor John Ashley on April 28, 1962, and their son, Anthony, was born on May 4, 1963. Walley and Ashley acted in a few pictures together, including Beach Blanket Bingo and Sergeant Dead Head, before they parted company in 1966. Walley remarried in November 1968 to drummer Chet McCracken, but this union lasted little more than a year.

the films of deborah walley

Route 66 (1960-1964 CBS TV Series)

Deborah Walley and George Maharis

From the hit CBS series Route 66 with series star George Maharis in a 1960 episode titled Ten Drops of Water

Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961)

Michael Callan and Deborah WalleyJames Darren, Deborah Walley, Michael Callan, and Vickie Trickett

From Columbia's Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Deborah Walley's first film. LEFT: With Michael Callan as Eddie. RIGHT: With James Darren, Michael Callan, and Vickie Trickett

Bon Voyage! (1962)

Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Fred MacMurray, Kevin Corcoran, and Jane WymanMichael Callan and Deborah Walley

From the cute Disney movie Bon Voyage!. LEFT: With Tommy Kirk, Fred MacMurray, Kevin Corcoran, and Jane Wyman as the Willard family. RIGHT: With Michael Callan

The Young Lovers (1964)

Nick Adams, Deborah Walley, and Peter Fonda

With Nick Adams and Peter Fonda in the MGM college student drama The Young Lovers

Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)

Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Deborah Walley, and John AshleyDeborah WalleyDeborah Walley and John Ashley

From AIP's Beach Blanket Bingo. LEFT: Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Walley, and John Ashley in a promotional still. CENTER and RIGHT: Walley and John Ashley

Ski Party (1965)

Yvonne Craig, Deborah Walley, Frankie Avalon, and Dwayne HickmanYvonne Craig, Deborah Walley, Aron Kincaid, Robert Q. Lewis, Mike Nader, Dwayne Hickman, and Frankie Avalon

From American International's comedy Ski Party. LEFT: With Yvonne Craig, Frankie Avalon, and Dwayne Hickman. RIGHT: With Yvonne Craig, Aron Kincaid, Robert Q. Lewis, Mike Nader, Dwayne Hickman, and Frankie Avalon

Sergeant Dead Head (1965)

Frankie Avalon and Deborah Walley

With Frankie Avalon in American International's comedy Sergeant Dead Head

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)

Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley

From American International's final beach party film, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, with costar Tommy Kirk

The Bubble (1966)

Deborah Walley and Michael Cole

From Arch Oboler's 3-D science fiction flick The Bubble with Michael Cole

Spinout (1966)

Elvis Presley and Deborah WalleyJack Mullaney, Elvis Presley, Deborah Walley, and Jimmy Hawkins

Walley portrays a drummer in Elvis Presley's band in MGM's musical Spinout. LEFT: Drummer Les cozies up to Elvis. RIGHT: With Jack Mullaney, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hawkins

It's a Bikini World (1967)

Deborah WalleyDeborah Walley and Tommy Kirk

From the low-budget independent release It's a Bikini World with Tommy Kirk

The Mothers-In-Law (1967–1969 NBC TV Series)

Jerry Fogel and Deborah WalleyKaye Ballard, Deborah Walley, Jerry Fogel, and Eve Arden

From the NBC TV series The Mothers-In-Law, which was produced by Desi Arnaz. LEFT: With Jerry Fogel as Walley's husband. RIGHT: With series stars Kaye Ballard, Jerry Fogel, and Eve Arden

Benji (1974)

Deborah Walley and Christopher Connelly

Walley with Christopher Connelly in the children's film Benji

later years

After making several more films and landing a starring role in the NBC sitcom series The Mothers-in-Law (1967-1969; with Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard), Walley remarried and cooled her acting career. However, on occasion she resurfaced in such films as The Severed Arm (1973; with Paul Carr and Marvin Kaplan) and Benji (1974; with Peter Breck); in addition, she did some TV guest shots in the 1980s. In 1993, Walley published the children's book Grandfather's Good Medicine; see the Books Available section below.

Deborah Walley

Walley looks remarkably youthful in this photo taken in Australia in 2000

In the late 1990s, Walley renewed her acting career and signed many photos at autograph conventions. Tragically, in late 2000 Walley was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on May 10, 2001, at the age of 59. She was survived by two sons.

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deborah walley trailers

Watch the trailers for Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)


Benji (1974) with Peter Breck, Frances Bavier, Terry Carter, Edgar Buchanan, and Tom Lester
The Severed Arm (1973) with Paul Carr and Marvin Kaplan
Drag Racer (1971) with Jeremy Slate and Preston Pierce
The Bubble (1967) with Michael Cole
It's a Bikini World (1967) with Tommy Kirk, Sid Haig, and Suzie Kaye
Spinout (1966) with Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Diane McBain, Dodie Marshall, Jack Mullaney, and Will Hutchins
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) with Tommy Kirk, Aron Kincaid, Quinn O'Hara, Patsy Kelly, Basil Rathbone, and Boris Karloff
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) with Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, John Ashley and Linda Evans
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) with Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, and Vincent Price
Sergeant Deadhead (1965) with Frankie Avalon, Eve Arden, Cesar Romero, John Ashley, and Donna Loren
Ski Party (1965) with Aron Kincaid, Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Yvonne Craig, and Robert Q. Lewis
The Young Lovers (1964) with Peter Fonda and Nick Adams
Summer Magic (1963) with Hayley Mills, Burl Ives, Dorothy McGuire, Eddie Hodges, Michael J. Pollard, Peter Brown, and James Stacy
Bon Voyage! (1962) with Fred MacMurray, Tommy Kirk, Michael Callan, and Jane Wyman
Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) with James Darren, Michael Callen, Peggy Cass, and Vicki Trickett

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, 1989-1992 Walt Disney animated TV series. Walley provided the voice for various characters
The Mothers-In-Law, 1967-1969 NBC TV series. Walley portrayed Suzie Hubbard Buell. Also starring in the series were Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard.

Baywatch, episode Baywatch Grand Prix, originally aired February 8, 1999
Simon & Simon, episode The Last Big Break, originally aired October 30, 1986
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, episode Mystery of the Avalanche Express, originally aired February 26, 1978
Love, American Style, episode Love and the Anxious Mama/Love and the Boomerang/Love and the Private Eye, originally aired January 28, 1972
The Virginian, episode With Love, Bullets and Valentines, originally aired October 7, 1970
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., episode Lies, Lies, Lies, originally aired June 24, 1966
Wagon Train, episode The Nancy Styles Story, originally aired November 22, 1964
The Greatest Show on Earth, episode This Train Don't Stop Till It Gets There, originally aired April 14, 1964
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Andy Zygmunt?, originally aired March 13, 1964
Route 66, episode Ten Drops of Water, originally aired November 11, 1960
Naked City, episode To Walk In Silence, originally aired November 9, 1960

deborah walley links

Elvis' Women
Greg Altenberger's site is amazing! Click on the link above to go to his Elvis' Women site for more photographs and information regarding Deborah Walley, Julie Parrish, Debra Paget, and many more.

Elvis! The King and his Court features information not only about Elvis Presley and his films; it also covers Elvis' co-stars.

deborah walley film now showing

Watch Deborah Walley's 1973 horror flick The Severed Arm
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