Julie Brown

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Julie Brown
Official Julie Brown portrait.jpg
Brown in 2012
Julie Ann Brown

(1958-08-31) August 31, 1958 (age 64)
  • Actress
  • comedian
  • writer
  • singer-songwriter
  • television director
Years active1980–present
(m. 1983; div. 1989)

Ken Rethen
(m. 1993; div. 2007)

Julie Ann Brown (born August 31, 1958[1]) is an American actress, comedian, screen/television writer, singer-songwriter, and television director.[2] Brown is known for her work in the 1980s, where she often played a quintessential valley girl character. Much of her comedy has revolved around the mocking of famous people (with a strong and frequently revisited focus on Madonna).

Early life[edit]

Julie Brown was born in Van Nuys, California, the daughter of Irish-Catholic parents Celia Jane (née McCann) and Leonard Francis Brown.[3][4] Her father worked at NBC TV studios in the traffic department (advertising scheduling), and her mother was a secretary at the same studio complex.[5] Both of Brown's grandfathers had worked in the Hollywood film business.[4] Her great-grandfather was character actor Frank O'Connor.[3] She attended a Catholic elementary school as a child, and later Van Nuys High School where she was chosen princess of the homecoming court. Brown's parents said "whatever you do, don't become an actress", but after attending Los Angeles Valley College she enrolled in the well-known San Francisco acting school, American Conservatory Theater, where she met future collaborator Charlie Coffey.[6]


Julie Brown began her career performing in nightclubs.[7] She was a contestant on the game show Whew! (as Annie Brown).[8] She started working on television with a guest spot on the sitcom Happy Days. She also appeared in the 1981 cult film Bloody Birthday. After a small role in the Clint Eastwood comedy film Any Which Way You Can, comedian Lily Tomlin saw Brown at a comedy club and gave her her first big break, a part in her 1981 film The Incredible Shrinking Woman.[7] Tomlin and Brown eventually became close friends. A string of guest starring appearances in a variety of television shows followed, including: Laverne & Shirley, Buffalo Bill, The Jeffersons and Newhart. Brown also appeared in short films such as "Five Minutes, Miss Brown".[9]

In 1984, she released her first EP, a five-song album called Goddess in Progress.[10] The album, parodies of popular '80s music combined with her valley girl personality, was quickly discovered by the Dr. Demento Show. The songs "'Cause I'm a Blonde" and "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" were given radio airplay across the world.[11] The latter was a spoof on stereotypical 1950s' teen tragedy songs, with cheerleaders' heads and pompoms being blown to pieces.

In 1987, Brown released her first full-length album, Trapped in the Body of a White Girl.[12] The album highlighted her comedic talent and valley girl personality. The album's highlights were "I Like 'em Big and Stupid" and she reprised "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" (the album was reissued on CD in 2010 by Collector's Choice Music on its Noble Rot label).[13] Music videos were recorded and received heavy airplay on MTV. In 1989, Brown starred in that cable network's comedy and music-video show Just Say Julie.[10] She played the role of a demanding, controlling, and pessimistic glamour-puss from the valley, making fun of popular music acts, while at the same time introducing their music videos (she was also known as "Miss Julie Brown" at the time to differentiate her from Downtown Julie Brown, who was on the network at the same time).

Brown's film career began in 1988 with the release of the film Earth Girls Are Easy, written, produced by, and featuring Brown,[14] it was based loosely on a song by the same name from her debut EP. The film also starred Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Brown cast then-unknown comedians Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans. In 1990 Brown had a brief part in the movie The Spirit of '76, as an intellectual stripper.

Brown performing in 2008 at The Public Theater in New York City

NBC commissioned a half-hour pilot, ultimately unsold and airing Sunday, July 28, 1991, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, titled The Julie Show. Created by Brown, Charlie Coffey, and director and executive producer David Mirkin, it was a comedy about actress Julie Robbins (Brown), who in this initial story, goes to great lengths to land an interview with teen singer Kiki (played by Kim Walker) in the hopes of getting hired as a tabloid-TV celebrity journalist. Developed under the working title The Julie Brown Show, it also starred Marian Mercer as Julie's mother, June; DeLane Matthews as Debra Deacon, a reporter on the fictional series Inside Scoop; Susan Messing as Julie's roommate Cheryl; and Kevin O'Rourke as Inside Scoop producer Tony Barnow. Brown was also a producer, with John Ziffren, and performed and co-wrote the theme song. Walker, Don Sparks, Robin Angers, and Deborah Driggs were guest performers in this production from Mirkinvision and New World Television.[15]

Another pilot was filmed for CBS in 1989 called, Julie Brown: The Show, and featured a similar theme, in which Brown was the hostess of a talk show and she would interview actual celebrity guests, interspersed with scripted scenarios. The pilot was aired, but the show was not picked up; years later, it leaked onto the Internet.

In 1992, Brown starred in her own Fox sketch comedy show, The Edge; two of its regulars, Jennifer Aniston and Wayne Knight, later became sitcom stars, while Tom Kenny went on to voice SpongeBob SquarePants. That same year, she released the Showtime television movie Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful, a satire about Madonna and her backstage documentary, Truth or Dare. (Brown's co-star was Kathy Griffin.)

Brown followed with another satire, Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women, which lampooned the violence of ice skater Tonya Harding toward rival Nancy Kerrigan, as well as that of widely publicized castrator Lorena Bobbitt.[16]

She has continued to make television guest appearances and contributed voices to various cartoons, including Animaniacs (as the voice of Minerva Mink), Aladdin as bratty mermaid Saleen, and as the original voice of Zatanna in the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon. Prior to this, she also guest starred on a Tiny Toon Adventures episode as Julie Bruin, a cartoon bear version of herself, in which she guest-starred in her own segment Just Say Julie Bruin, a reference to her music video show. The Just Say Julie Bruin cartoon also was a music video show and in her segment Elmer Fudd guest-starred as Fuddonna, a parody of Madonna and a reference to Julie Brown herself regularly mocking her.

Brown appeared as Coach Millie Stoeger in the film Clueless, reprising that role on ABC's 1996–1999 spin-off TV series, for which she was also a writer, producer and director. Two regulars from the series, Donald Faison and Elisa Donovan, later found similarly successful roles, as would featured player Christina Milian who had a recurring role on the series during its UPN years. In 1998, Brown appeared in the parody movie Plump Fiction. In 2000, she created the series Strip Mall for the Comedy Central network; it ran two seasons.

Since 2004, Brown has been a commentator on E! network specials, including 101 Reasons the '90s Ruled, 101 Most Starlicious Makeovers, 101 Most Awesome Moments in Entertainment, and 50 Most Outrageous TV Moments.

In 2005, Brown purchased the rights to her Trapped album back from the record label and reissued it herself.[citation needed] She also self-released a single, "I Want to Be Gay". In late 2007, she also purchased the rights to her 1984 E.P. Goddess in Progress and re-released it as a full-length record with compiled unreleased tracks recorded during that era.[citation needed] Brown began touring in late 2007 with her one-woman show, Smell the Glamour.[citation needed]

In 2008, she co-wrote and appeared as Dee La Duke in the Disney Channel original movie Camp Rock, which starred Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers. Brown also joined the cast of the Canadian television series Paradise Falls that same year.

In late 2008 Brown began releasing one-track digital singles, starting with "The Ex-Beauty Queen's Got a Gun"; it was a rewrite of "Homecoming Queen" with lyrics about Sarah Palin. This was first aired in September, 2008 on The Stephanie Miller Show. In 2011 she released an album called Smell The Glamour, which features satires of Lady Gaga, Kesha and updated versions of her Medusa songs.

In the 2010–2011 television season, Brown began a recurring role as Paula Norwood, a neighbor and friend of the Heck family, on the ABC comedy The Middle. From 2010 to 2015 she was a writer for Melissa & Joey, and played a gym teacher in one episode of the show. In 2012 she appeared with Downtown Julie Brown as a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race.

In 2023, amid the announcement of Madonna: The Celebration Tour with a video inspired by Truth or Dare, Brown reprised her Medusa character parodying the announcement video in her social media.[17]

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, Brown married writer and actor Terrence E. McNally, another frequent collaborator. They co-produced her first single, "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid". They divorced after six years. In 1994, Brown married Ken Rathjen, and together they have one son. She said in 2007 that she had recently divorced for the second time.[18]



Title Year Role Notes
Any Which Way You Can 1980 Candy
The Incredible Shrinking Woman 1981 TV Commercial Actress
Bloody Birthday Beverly Brody
Dark Seduction 1984 Tammy
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment 1985 Chloe
Earth Girls Are Easy 1988 Candy Pink
The Spirit of '76 1990 Ms. Liberty
Timebomb 1991 Waitress at Al's Diner Uncredited
Shakes the Clown Judy
Nervous Ticks 1992 Nancy Rudman
The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them Zoe
A Goofy Movie 1995 Lisa Voice
Clueless Ms. Stoeger
Out There Joleen McGillicuddy
Plump Fiction 1997 Mimi Hungry
Wakko's Wish (video) 1999 Minerva Mink Voice
Daybreak 2000 Connie Spheres
The Trip 2002 Receptionist
Like Mike New Age Mother
Fat Rose and Squeaky 2006 Squeaky
Boxboarders! 2007 Anny Neptune
Mothers of the Bride 2015 Peg
Christmas with the Andersons 2016 Aunt Katie


Title Year Role Notes
Happy Days 1980 Suzy Simmonds Season 7, episode 15 "Ah! Wilderness"
Laverne & Shirley 1982 Secretary
Season 7, episode 13 "Rocky Ragu"
Season 8, episode 3 "The Note"
Buffalo Bill 1983 Season 1, episode 9 "Ratings"
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Barbie Season 1, episode 3 "If Thoughts Could Kill"
The Jeffersons Cherry Season 10, episode 9 "Who's the Fairist"
We Got It Made Didi West Season 1, episode 13 "Sexiest Bachelor"
Yogi's Treasure Hunt 1985–88 Coinnie Kindly (voice) Season 03, episode 06 "Yogi Bear on the Air"
Newhart 1986–88 Buffy Denver Season 5, episode 1 "Co-Hostess Twinkle"
Season 6, episode 14 "A Friendship That Will Last a Lunchtime"
Quantum Leap 1990 Bunny O'Hare/Thelma Lou Dickey Season 2, episode 20 "Maybe Baby (March 11, 1963)"
Get a Life Connie Bristol Season 1, episode 1 "Terror on the Hell Loop 2000"
Monsters Wendy Season 3, episode 7 "Small Blessings"
Tiny Toon Adventures 1991 Julie Bruin (voice) Season 1, episode 51 "Tiny Toon Music Television"
Batman: The Animated Series 1992–93 Lily
Zatanna Zatara
Season 1, episode 29 "Eternal Youth"
Season 1, episode 54 "Zatanna"
The Edge Various Main role; 19 episodes
The Addams Family 1993 Camp Counselor (voice) Season 2, episode 7 - first segment: "Camp Addams"
Aladdin 1994–95 Saleen (voice) Disney Channel episode 30 "Elemental, My Dear Jasmine"
Disney channel episode 55 "Shark Treatment"
Band of Gold 1995 Liz Season 1, episode 2 "Caught"
Season 1, episode 3 "Damaged"
Tracey Takes On... 1996 Mrs. Lynn Heiner Season 1, episode 5 "Family"
Quack Pack Nelly the Dragon Season 1, episode 3 "Leader of the Quack"
Animaniacs 1993–97 Minerva Mink (voice) 6 episodes
Murphy Brown 1997 Secretary #88 Season 10, episode 11 "From the Terrace"
Pinky and the Brain 1998 Danette Spoonabello
Minerva Mink (voice)
Season 3, episode 27 "Brain's Night Off/Beach Blanket Brain"
Season 4, episode 7 "Star Warners"
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child 1999 Lottie Bologna Season 3, episode 1 "The Three Little Pigs"
Clueless 1996–99 Coach Millie Deimer 15 episodes
The New Woody Woodpecker Show 1999–00 Judge
Customer (voice)
4 episodes
Strip Mall 2000–01 Tammi Tyler Main role; 22 episodes
Elsie: Mere Mortal 2002 Mom (voice) Animated short
Family Affair Ms. Felicity Robbins Season 1, episode 7 "No Small Parts"
Six Feet Under 2005 Sissy Pasquese Season 5, episode 4 "Time Flies"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2008 Connie Dellaquilla Season 8, episode 11 "Bull"
Paradise Falls Mimi Van Lux 5 episodes
Wizards of Waverly Place Miss Anna Marinovich Season 1, episode 21 "Art Museum Piece"
Big Time Rush 2011 Rona Season 2, episode 25 "Big Time Contest"
Melissa & Joey 2012 Coach Dalman Season 2, episode 12 "Mother of All Problems"
The Middle 2010–17 Paula Norwood 13 episodes
From Here on OUT 2014 Gina Season 1, episode 5 "The OUT Cover-(Up)"
TMI Hollywood Various Season 4, episode 21 "Getting Down with Brown"
Spirit Riding Free 2019 Mrs. Dawn Hungerford Pony Tales

Television film[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
Jane Doe 1983 Reporter
Carol Leifer: Gaudy, Bawdy & Blue 1992 Rhona
Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women 1994 Tonya Hardly/Lenora Babbitt
Out There 1995 Joleen
Alien Avengers II 1998 Rhonda
Camp Rock 2008 Dee La Duke Disney Channel Original Movie
The Wish List 2010 Wedding Planner
My Santa 2013 Susie
Gusty Frog 2013 Frankie's Mom

Other work[edit]

Title Year Notes
Olivia Newton-John: Hollywood Nights 1980 Writer; television special
Earth Girls are Easy 1988 Writer
Just Say Julie 1989 Writer; co-producer
Quantum Leap 1990 Writer - "Maybe Baby (March 11, 1963)"
The Julie Show 1991 Creator; writer; producer
Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful 1992 Director; writer; executive producer
The Edge 1992–93 Writer - 20 episodes; producer - 20 episodes
Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women 1994 Director; writer
Rude Awakening 1998 Writer - "An Embarrassment of Ritch's"
Clueless 1996–99 Director - 1 episode; writer - 8 episodes; producer - 24 episodes; co-producer - 36 episodes
Strip Mall 2000 Executive producer
The Big House 2004 Writer - season 1, episode 3 "A friend in Need"; consulting producer
Camp Rock 2008 Writer
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam 2010 Based on characters
Melissa & Joey 2011 Writer - season 1, episode 29 "Do As I Say, Not As I Did"
Gusty Frog 2013 Writer; television film




  1. ^ David Jeffries. "Julie Brown". AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "Julie Brown". Discogs. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  3. ^ a b "Telling Tales". Variety. Vol. 48. 1985. pp. 193–194.
  4. ^ a b "Just Say Lampoon : Julie Brown's cult-like comedy spares no one". Los Angeles Times. Nov 15, 1992. Retrieved Sep 20, 2019.
  5. ^ "Leonard Brown Obituary - Los Angeles, CA | Los Angeles Times". Legacy.com. Retrieved Sep 20, 2019.
  6. ^ "Val Gal Get Your Gun—Julie Brown Blasts Her Way Onto MTV". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved Sep 20, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Julie Brown". The Improv. Archived from the original on 2016-10-18.
  8. ^ Whew - Game Show - Annie & John on YouTube
  9. ^ Five Minutes, Miss Brown on YouTube
  10. ^ a b "Valley Girl Is Only One Shade of Julie Brown". The Los Angeles Times. February 8, 1990.
  11. ^ Bronson, Harold (October 2013). The Rhino Records Story: Revenge of the Music Nerds. SelectBooks, Inc. ISBN 978-1-59079-135-6.
  12. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Trapped in the Body of a White Girl Vol. 28 No. 18". People. November 2, 1987.
  13. ^ "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" on YouTube
  14. ^ James, Caryn (May 12, 1989). "Earth Girls Are Easy (1989) Review/Film; On Shaving, Furry Aliens Turn Into Valley Guys". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Lovece, Frank. The Television Yearbook 1990-91 (Perigee Books / Putnam Publishing, 1991), p. 267
  16. ^ Brown, Julie; Wenk, Richard (1994-08-21), Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 Women, retrieved 2016-10-11
  17. ^ @missjuliebrown (3 March 2023). "Medusa is BACK… and she's joined TikToks! At least that's what she keeps calling it 😉" – via Instagram.
  18. ^ Balls Out Ball Raises Big Butts Bucks for Rugby Club on YouTube

External links[edit]

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