While she has won Grammys, Logies, and AFI Awards, the lift of Debbie Byrne has had as many downs as ups.
Many would remember Debbie for her smiling face and wonderful singing voice from the television program Young Talent Time where she was a founding cast member. Debbie has also conquered both little and big screens as well as the stage.
Battling sexual abuse at a young age from her Grandfather, Debbie escaped to the world of show business leaving her Fitzroy upbringing for a brighter future. In 1969 she made her television debut on Brian and the Juniors where she was beloved she stayed for a year. Immediately after that she joined the founding cast of Young Talent Time.
Debbie was a hit on Young Talent Time evening winning a Logie in 1974 for Best Teenage Personality. The same year she also won the Queen of Pop Award. She left Young Talent Time for a shot at musical success releasing her first solo single “He’s a Rebel” which was a cover of the 1962 Crystals’ hit. Her first album She’s a Rebel was produced by Young Talent Time host Johnny Young and screamed to the top of the charts.
In hopes to expand her musical horizons, Debbie traveled to London to work with Cliff Richard. While there she appeared on The Cliff Richard Show as well as some other English programs. She returned to Australia ready to stand on her own two feet as a successful recording artist. Her first TV appearance back in Australia was on The Graham Kennedy Show as well as regular appearances on the ABC show The Saturday Show. In 1980 she got her own television show co-hosting with John Farnham called Farnham and Byrne.
However, it was during this time that her demons started to get the better of her. She would disappear from the limelight and stop recording all together as she battled with heroin addiction. She wouldn’t be seen working until 1985. It was then that she burst on to the silver screen in the role of Kathy McLeod in the film Rebel which also starred Matt Dillon. The film would give credit to her acting ability, but it would also return her to music stardom as she recorded a number of songs for the film and the soundtrack soared to the top of the charts.
While she would still appear on TV and films, it was the stage there Debbie focused her attentions for the next chapter in her career. She has starred in Les Misérables, Caught in the Act, Sleeping Child, Hot Shoe Shuffle, and starred opposite Hugh Jackman in the 1996 stage production of Sunset Boulevard.
Debbie has proved that you can’t let the bad parts of your life keep you from achieving your dreams and making the most of it. This is why she is still beloved my millions and will be an Australian entertainment icon for years to come.