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‘Fame’ TV Show Cast: What Are Debbie Allen and Other Stars Doing Today

Find out which part Madonna auditioned for (and who won the role)!


The Fame cast, a mix of seasoned performers and fresh faces, created the groundbreaking TV series that captured the hearts of audiences in the 1980s.

It was more than just a show about talented students pursuing their dreams at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. It was a cultural phenomenon that showcased the struggles and triumphs of aspiring young artists.

Originally a 1980 film, it was the TV series that really put Fame on the map. Who could forget the legwarmers, leotards and teens leaping off taxis, wanting to live forever and learn how to fly. Here’s a look at the cast who couldn’t wait to light up the sky like a flame.

Debbie Allen as Lydia Grant in the Fame TV show cast

Debbie Allen as Lydia Grant (Fame Cast)
1988/2023; Paul Archuleta / Contributor/Getty

Debbie Allen was already a well-established dancer, actress and choreographer before joining the cast of Fame. In 1980 she appeared in the Broadway revival of West Side Story and was nominated for a Tony award. She then landed a part in the movie Fame (1980), before being cast in the television spin-off in 1982.

As Lydia Grant, the strict but compassionate dance teacher, Allen brought her real-world dance expertise to the screen. Her character became an integral part of the show, serving as a mentor to the aspiring performers. She both starred and choreographed for the series. In fact, she won three Emmy awards for her choreography.

She continued to be successful after the Fame cast. In 1988, Allen became both a producer and director for The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World. Allen had an in: her sister, Phylicia Rashad, had starred as mother Clare Huxtable in the popular franchise of The Cosby Show.

Grant also acted in several TV series including In the House from 1995 to 1996, and in 2011 played Dr. Catherine Avery in the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

In addition to acting, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles where she taught choreography to many including former Los Angeles Lakers dancer-turned-singer, Paula Abdul.

Most recently, in 2020, Allen directed the Netflix musical film Christmas on the Square starring Dolly Parton. 

Did you know? In the final season of Fame, Allen was appearing on Broadway in Sweet Charity. Her stage performance overlapped with the filming of the television series. To be able to include her in Fame, the producers filmed all of her scenes in New York City. That is why she appeared only in exterior scenes, and had no interior shots (which took place on a soundstage in California).

Gene Anthony Ray as Leroy Johnson in the Fame cast

Gene Anthony Ray as Leroy Johnson (Fame Cast)

Gene Anthony Ray, like his character Leroy, attended New York City High School of Performing Arts, but Ray only attended for one year (he was rumored to have been kicked out).

Born in 1962, in Harlem, New York, Ray had limited acting experience before landing the role in Fame, but directors found him to have a lot of charisma and natural dance talent. As Leroy Johnson, the street-smart and gifted dancer, Ray’s character faced numerous challenges, showcasing the struggles of a student with raw talent navigating the demanding world of performing arts.

Post Fame, Ray appeared in Out of Sync (1995), which was directed by his Fame co-star Debbie Allen, and Eddie (1996), which starred Whoopi Goldberg.

Privately, Ray struggled with alcohol and drug addiction and was HIV positive. He died in 2003 at the age of 41 from complications of a stroke.

Lee Curreri as Bruno Martelli in the Fame TV show cast

Lee Curreri as Bruno Martelli (Fame Cast)
1984/2017 Images Press / Contributor/Getty; Earl Gibson III / Contributor/Getty

Lee Curreri, a musician and composer, had limited acting experience before joining the cast of Fame. His musical talents, however, made him a perfect fit for the role of Bruno Martelli, a keyboardist and composer. As Bruno, Curreri portrayed the sensitive and talented musician, adding depth to the show’s musical dimension.

Curreri was born in 1961 in the Bronx. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, and Westchester Conservatory. His role in the Fame cast closely matched his real life of being a musical prodigy. 

After the series, Curreri worked with Capitol Records where he worked with and produced music for a number of artists including Natalie Cole, Nicolette Larson and Kid Creole.

He also produced scores for film and TV including episodes of David E. Kelley’s series Chicago Hope (1994) and the series Dangerous Minds (1996).  Additionally, he worked on commercials with top clients like Nike and Taco Bell.

Most recently, Curreri composed and produced the first full-length CD of his own original music, Aquabox.

He is married and has two children.

Did you know? Curreri is married to Sherry Dean, sister of one of his Fame co-stars, Laura Dean.

Erica Gimpel as Coco Hernandez

Erica Gimpel as Coco Hernandez (Fame Cast)
1997/2022Marcel Thomas / Contributor/Getty; Gregg DeGuire / Stringer/Getty

Erica Gimpel was a fan favorite playing the role of Coco Hernandez.

Born in New York City in 1964, Gimpel won the role of Coco while in high school. In fact, she was missing from the last several episodes of the first season of Fame, because she was completing her own high school education.

After appearing in the Fame cast, Gimpel appeared in several other television series including Profiler as Angel Brown; ER as Adele Newman and on Veronica Mars as Alicia Fennel. From 2018 to 2020, Gimpel had a series regular role as Trish on the series God Friended Me. She also had guest appearances in House, Criminal Minds and Boston Legal.

Her film credits include Tuesday Morning Ride, Smoke, The King of New York and Romeo and Juliet in Harlem. She has also appeared several times on Broadway.

Did you know? Gimpel is also a singer-songwriter and her debut CD is called Spread Your Wings and Fly.

Albert Hague as Benjamin Shorofsky

Albert Hague as Benjamin Shorofsky (Fame Cast)
1980United Artists / Handout/Getty

Who could forget Albert Hague as Benjamin Shorofsky the talented but firm music teacher? Hague’s character added a touch of classical music to the diverse artistic landscape of the show.

Hague was a well-regard composer before becoming a part of the Fame cast. His work included the Tony award-winning score for the 1959 musical Redhead. Hague also worked as a teacher and coach for young actors, including Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.

After Fame, he continued to compose and act for Broadway, film and TV. In 2000 he composed music for the soundtrack of the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Haguedied in 2001 at the age of 81.

Did you know? Hague was born Albert Marcuse in Berlin, Germany in 1920, but left for the United States in 1937 to escape Germany. He was awarded a musical scholarship to the University of Cincinnati and was adopted by an eye surgeon Dr. Elliott B. Hague, who had close ties to the university. He then became Albert Hague.

Carlo Imperato as Danny Amatullo

Carlo Imperato as Danny Amatullo (Fame Cast)
1983/; Dianna Whitley / Contributor/Getty

Carlo Imperato played the energetic and charismatic dancer Danny Amatullo.

Imperato was born in 1963 in The Bronx, New York and Fame was his gateway to showbiz. He later appeared in episodes of Friends (1994), Grey’s Anatomy (2005) and Crazylove (2005).

He has been married three times (most recently to Angela Imperato since 2000) and has three children.

Valerie Landsburg as Doris Schwartz

Valerie Landsburg as Doris Schwartz (Fame Cast)
1985/2017 Michael Ochs Archives / Handout/Getty; Earl Gibson III / Contributor/Getty

Valerie Landsburg became a globally-recognized star playing Doris Schwartz in the Fame cast. 

After the series, Landsburg turned to writing and directing. She worked on the indie feature Offer and Compromise. Her short film Trixie’s Score was picked up by Shorts International and she  worked on An Unexpected Gift for The Hallmark Channel. She also directed the action-thriller Bound By Lies, which starred Stephen Baldwin.

In addition to her acting, directing and writing talents, Lansburg also teaches (she’s an adjunct faculty member at UCLA) and is a photographer and singer-songwriter

Did you know? Landsburg beat out Madonna for the role of Doris Schwartz in Fame.

Lori Singer as Julie Miller in the Fame TV show cast

Lori Singer as Julie Miller (fame cast)
1985/2023Bob Riha Jr / Contributor/Getty; Tibrina Hobson / Contributor/Getty

Cast as Julie Miller, a teenage dancer and cellist, Lori Singer was born in 1957 and was considered a musical prodigy. She made her debut as a cellist with the Oregon Symphony at thirteen, and was subsequently accepted to the Juilliard School, where she became the institution’s youngest graduate.

She worked in modeling (with the Elite Model agency) before becoming a part of the Fame cast. After the series, she appeared in Footloose, starring as Ariel Moore opposite Kevin Bacon.

She had parts in other films including The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), the comedy The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), the horror film Warlock (1989), and the drama Short Cuts (1993).

Most recently, she narrated the documentary God Knows Where I Am which won several awards and was streamed on Netflix in 2019.

For more 80’s TV click through the links below!

‘Life Goes On’ Cast Then and Now, Plus The Latest News on a Reboot!

Party of Five’ Cast Then & Now: Catch Up With the Salinger Siblings Today

‘Married…with Children’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With The Bundy Clan

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