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Paula Abdul

Full name: Paula Julie Abdul
Date of birth: June 19, 1962
Hometown: San Fernando, California
Currently resides in: Los Angeles, California
Education: Attended California State University at Northridge, but dropped out to focus on her choreography and dancing career
Significant other? Paula was married to Emilio Estevez from 1992 to 1994; she is currently single.
Resume highlights: Dancer, choreographer, singer
Bet you didn't know... When Paula graduated from Van Nuys Junior High School in 1980, she was voted "girl with the funniest laugh."
Twitter: @PaulaAbdul

Before American Idol:
We wonder: Did Paula Abdul do her famous seal clap when she was a little girl growing up in California's San Fernando Valley? Paula, who was raised by a Canadian mother and a Syrian father, started dancing when she was only 8 years old. After high school, where she wasn't one of the popular girls (surprisingly), Paula went on to college at Cal State. However, the talented dancer and choreographer dropped out of school after joining the L.A. Lakers cheerleading squad, opting to pursue her passions full-time.

Fortunately for Paula, she made it big — real big. During the '80s, she worked with popular artists like Janet Jackson and George Michael and choreographed hit movies. As if that wasn't enough, Paula launched a solo singing career in the late '80s, which catapulted her to worldwide fame with hit songs like "Opposites Attract" and" Straight Up." After her music career fizzled, Paula went on to choreograph high-profile events, including the Academy Awards and American Music Awards.

American Idol days:
Alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson at the American Idol judges' table, Paula became known as the sweet, ditsy, and hard-to-understand judge. Of course, she also sparked her share of controversy: First there was the rumored affair with a Season 2 contestant, and then there were reports of painkiller addictions. Despite the criticism, Paula remained popular with viewers until she left the show in 2008 after a contract dispute.

After American Idol:
She might have left her Idol days behind her, but Paula Abdul's career is far from over. In 2010, she landed her own CBS dance competition show, Got to Dance. Paula will serve as executive producer, coach, and mentor on the new show.

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