Deborah Walley

Deborah Walley

Spinout, 1966

Born: August 12, 1943 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
Husband: John Ashley (1962 - 1966)
Died: May 10, 2001 in Sedona, Arizona, USA

"Working with Elvis was wonderful, which was quite something because I really didn't think too much of him when I started the film Spinout, and we became fast friends during the filming." --Deborah Walley

Although she is mostly known for her many roles in "beach" movies, Deborah Walley started out on the stage in New York. Her parents were professional figure skaters, which meant that Deborah did a lot of traveling with them during the summer months, but spent her school months with a nanny in New York. After studying at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, she began getting roles on- and off-Broadway ("a lot of off-Broadway", she says.) Talent scout Joyce Selznick saw her in Chekhov's Three Sisters, and asked her to audition for episodes of the TV series', The Naked City and Route 66. This led to the role of Gidget in Gidget Goes Hawaiian, her first film.

A couple of Disney films followed and then it was straight to the beach! She appeared in such classic titles as Beach Blanket Bingo, It's A Bikini World, The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini(!), Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (!!) and of course Spinout.

Spinout, in which our gal Deborah plays Les, the pseudo-androgynous drummer in Elvis' band, who along with Shelley Fabares and Dianne McBain, is out to snag Elvis. Elvis, of course, tries to remain single in the face of all this attention. It's a tough thankless job that's got to be done! Elvis and Deborah in Spinout

Deborah as Les in Spinout Deborah tells a story about a motorcycle ride she took with Elvis around this time. They were out near Malibu when they came across a German-shepherd-type dog along the side of the road that was obviously starving. Elvis stopped, picked it up, and took care of it all afternoon, then brought it to Deborah's house (in his Rolls, no less!) and she kept it for years.

Around this time, Elvis had been studying metaphysical and religious books, and loved to talk to people about it (also see Donna Douglas). Deborah always gave Elvis credit for introducing her to the spiritual side of life, and referred to their relationship as that of teacher/pupil.

Deborah's last major film was the family-classic, Benji in 1974. She then retired to spend more time with her three sons. "I quit acting because... I was never home, and I thought they'd grow up and I wouldn't even remember what their names were." She also devoted time to writing. She's written a few screenplays as well as quite a few books, some of which are available through her website.

Sadly, Deborah lost her battle with cancer May 10th, 2001. She will be greatly missed by us all. Before her death, she'd apparently finished a book about her relationship with Elvis, but it has yet to be published.

Deborah the Firecracker!

Deborah Links

Deborah publicity photo

"Starlet", by Kim Holston, 1988. pages 244 - 247.
Deborah Walley - IMDB

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Deborah Photos

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as Gidget with James Darren

with Mike Callan

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