February 3, 1951
Houston, Texas, United States
|Died||February 22, 1978
New York City, New York, United States
Debbie Booth Weems was born in Houston, Texas to Benjamin and Rowene Weems, into a family of two sisters, Debbie being the third of the three. During her childhood her parents divorced and each remarried. A half sister was born of her mother's second marriage. The family later relocated to Marlin, a town northwest of Houston.
During the 1960s, Weems attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She played a lead role in productions such as Annie Get Your Gun, The King and I, and The Miracle Worker, as well as smaller roles in many other productions. She also attended the Boston Conservatory of Music for two years ('68/'70) where she captured leading roles in two major productions - Carnival and Once Upon A Mattress. Weems later moved to New York City, where she appeared in an Off Broadway musical, Godspell. Weems was also a regular stock player at the Lakewood Musical Playhouse in Barnesville, Pennsylvania during 1971. Weems also appeared in various commercials.
From 1973 to 1978, Weems appeared as a regular on the hit CBS daily children's series, Captain Kangaroo. In 1976, songs from the television series sung by Weems was released on an album, Debbie Weems Sings Songs from Captain Kangaroo, published by Wonderland Records. She was later featured in an article in the October 23, 1976 edition of TV Guide, called Don’t Tell Your Mom About Debbie, which was about her career on Captain Kangaroo.
Weems suffered from typecasting, in which people always identified her as "that cute girl on Captain Kangaroo", hindering her ability to get roles for movies and TV shows geared toward the adult age group. During her tenure on the show, Weems' only other role during this time was in the 1977 movie Between the Lines, where she played a small role of "Annie One". Weems is believed to have suffered from anorexia and depression, shortly before her death, Weems was admitted to a residential treatment facility (The Country Place) in Connecticut.
On February 22, 1978 Debbie Weems left the treatment facility with an attendant to go to her apartment in New York to retrieve things of a personal nature. Weems is believed to have jumped from a 16th story window; her death has been considered a suicide. Graveside funeral services were held at noon Saturday, February 25, 1978 at the family plot in Marlin, Texas. Her family and closest friends surrounded her at the funeral. The Reverend Allan Green, the Reverend H.B. Streater and the Rev. F.P. Goddard officiated. Debbie Weems was only 27 years old.
Despite her death, episodes starring Weems continued to be televised through the summer of 1978.
- Bob Keeshan, Growing Up Happy ISBN 0-425-12315-4