Walley in the late 1960s
August 12, 1943|
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||May 10, 2001
Sedona, Arizona, U.S.
|Cause of death||Esophageal cancer|
|Years active||1960 – 1999|
|Spouse(s)||John Reynolds (divorced); 1 child
John Ashley (1962-1966; divorced); 1 child
Chet McCracken (1968-1975; divorced)
Life and career
She was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Ice Capades skating stars and choreographers, Nathan and Edith Walley. She attended Central High School in Bridgeport. At fourteen, she was playing summer-stock theatre. During her sophomore year, she attended Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she was cast as Cinderella in the Academy's annual musical production at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, Florida. She studied acting at New York City's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She began working on stage in the city.
She was discovered by agent Joyce Selznick in a performance in a production of Anton Chekov's Three Sisters. This led her to make her Hollywood film debut as Gidget in 1961's Gidget Goes Hawaiian. From then until 1974 she appeared in fifteen feature-length films, including several of the "Beach Party" films produced by American International Pictures. She also co-starred in the Elvis Presley film Spinout where she and Elvis bonded over a shared interest in spiritual matters.
In 1967, with her movie career starting to decline, Walley portrayed Suzie Hubbard Buell in the comedy series The Mothers-in-Law, comedian Eve Arden playing her mother and singer-comedian Kaye Ballard playing her mother-in-law. Actress Kay Cole had played Suzie in the original pilot but was replaced by Walley, who played her through the series' two seasons on the air.
From 1962-66, Walley was married to actor John Ashley, a costar of ABC's Straightaway series about auto racing from 1961–1962 and one of the main actors in the "Beach Party" films. The couple had a son, Anthony Brooks Ashley. John Ashley preceded his former wife in death by four years. On his gravestone, the inscription says that he was a "loving husband and father".
Walley died of esophageal cancer on May 10, 2001, in Sedona, aged 57. She was survived by her two sons: Anthony Brooks Ashley, a director, editor, and producer in Hollywood; and Justin Ashley Reynolds, an internet entrepreneur in Phoenix, Arizona.
|1960||Naked City||Heather Weston||Episode: "To Walk in Silence"|
|1960||Route 66||Helen Page||Episode: "Ten Drops of Water"|
|1961||Gidget Goes Hawaiian||Gidget (Frances Lawrence)|
|1962||Bon Voyage!||Amy Willard|
|1963||Summer Magic||Julia Carey|
|1964||Burke's Law||Gwenny Trent||Episode: "Who Killed Andy Zygmunt?"|
|1964||Greatest Show on Earth, TheThe Greatest Show on Earth||Anne||Episode: "This Train Don't Stop Till It Gets There"|
|1964||The Young Lovers||Debbie|
|1964||Wagon Train||Nancy Styles||Episode: "The Nancy Styles Story"|
|1965||Beach Blanket Bingo||Bonnie Graham|
|1965||Ski Party||Linda Hughes|
|1965||Sergeant Deadhead||Airman Lucy Turner|
|1965||Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine||Craig's Cafeteria Date|
|1966||Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, TheThe Ghost in the Invisible Bikini||Lili Morton|
|1966||Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.||Tina Tracy||Episode: "Lies, Lies, Lies"|
|1966||Bubble, TheThe Bubble||Katherine|
|1967||It's a Bikini World||Delilah Dawes|
|1967-1969||Mothers-in-Law, TheThe Mothers-in-Law||Suzie Hubbard Buell||56 episodes|
|1970||Virginian, TheThe Virginian||Corey Ann Skeet||Episode: "With Love, Bullets and Valentines"|
|1972||Love, American Style||Nina||Episode: "Love and the Anxious Mama"|
|1973||Severed Arm, TheThe Severed Arm||Teddy Rogers|
|1978||Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, TheThe Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||Gina Bartelli||Episode: "Mystery on the Avalanch Express"|
|1986||Simon & Simon||Gigi Dolores||Episode: "The Last Big Break"|
|1989||Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers||Lahwhinie (voice)||Episode: "Gadget Goes Hawaiian"|
|1990||Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers||Buffy Ratskiwatski / Foxglove (voice)||Episode: "Out of Scale"
Episode: "Good Times, Bat Times"
|1999||Baywatch||Ethel||Episode: "Baywatch Grand Prix"|
- "Diminutive Actress to Make Debut in Hawaiian Movie". The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah, Salt Lake City. May 9, 1961. p. 7. Retrieved May 15, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Lisanti, Tom (2000). Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies. McFarland. p. 294.
- Deborah Walley at Central High School, Bridgeport CT
- Eleanor Quin. "Spinout (1966)". Turner Classic Movies.
- Deborah Walley at the Internet Movie Database
- "Deborah Walley; Actress, 57" (obituary), New York Times, May 15, 2001.
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