Debralee Scott was an American actor. She is best remembered for her roles in TV sitcoms such as ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,’ ‘Angie,’ and ‘Forever Fernwood.’ She had also been part of films such as ‘Police Academy’ and ‘Police Academy 3: Back in Training.’ Debralee made her acting debut playing ‘Ann Mary Deacon’ in the crime thriller ‘Dirty Harry.’ Her big break came with the role of ‘Cathy Lorraine Shumway,’ the sister of the titular character of the satirical soap opera ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.’ The role garnered her widespread recognition. Over the years, she appeared in several other TV series, such as ‘Welcome Back, Kotter.’ She was also part of TV game shows such as ‘Match Game,’ ‘Password Plus,’ and ‘The $20,000 Pyramid.’ She also appeared in big-screen films such as ‘American Graffiti,’ ‘Earthquake,’ and ‘Pandemonium.’ Debralee later took retirement from acting and became an agent for ‘Empowered Artists.’ She met with a personal crisis when her fiancé, John Dennis Levi, a ‘Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’ police officer, was killed in the ‘World Trade Center’ terrorist attacks. Eventually, she became an alcoholic, and a few years later, she collapsed into coma. Although she came out of coma later, Debralee died in her sleep soon after.
Childhood & Early Life
Debralee Scott was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, US, on April 2, 1953. Not much is known about her parents, her childhood, or her education. Her sister, producer Scott Bushnell, produced many films of noted American film director Robert Altman. Her other sister, Jerri Scott, was a talent manager.
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Debralee made her acting debut in her teens, when she earned the role of ‘Ann Mary Deacon’ in the 1971-released Clint Eastwood-starrer blockbuster hit crime thriller ‘Dirty Harry.’ This was followed by an uncredited role in the 1972 political comedy–drama film ‘The Candidate.’
Her next notable film was the critically acclaimed ‘Academy Award’-nominated coming-of-age comedy ‘American Graffiti’ (1973), which is regarded as one of the most profitable films of all time. She played the character ‘Bob Falfa's girl in the film. The film had a talented ensemble cast, including Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, and Ron Howard.
She earned the starring role of ‘Evie Martinson’ in the ‘CBS’-aired 1974 TV drama series ‘Sons and Daughters’ She then played the recurring role of ‘Rosalie “Hotsy” Totsy’ in the sitcom ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ (1975–1978) and appeared on the TV game show ‘Match Game’ (1975–1981). She also appeared in films such as ‘Earthquake’ (1974, TV edit) and ‘The Reincarnation of Peter Proud’ (1975).
Debralee garnered her first major role in the satirical soap opera ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,’ which earned her decent fame. The role was that of ‘Cathy Lorraine Shumway,’ the “vampish” sister of the titular character, ‘Mary Penny Hartman (née Shumway),’ played by Louise Lasser. The series was aired on weekdays, from January 5, 1976 to May 10, 1977. Debralee continued to appear on the show even after Louise quit it in 1977 and the series was re-branded as ‘Forever Fernwood.’
Meanwhile, she appeared on several TV game shows, such as ‘The $20,000 Pyramid’ (1976–1980) and ‘Shoot for the Stars’ (1977), and the comedy–drama TV series ‘The Love Boat’ (1978).
She starred as ‘Marie Falco’ in the ‘ABC’ TV sitcom ‘Angie’ (1979–1980). She was also part of the game shows ‘Family Feud’ (1979) and ‘Password Plus’ (1979–1981), the musical TV special ‘The Donna Summer Special’ (1980), and the talk show ‘The Merv Griffin Show.’
The 1982 spoof horror movie ‘Pandemonium’ featured her in the role of ‘Sandy.’
She played ‘Mrs./Cadet Violet Fackler’ in the sensational 1984 comedy film ‘Police Academy,’ directed by Hugh Wilson. She later reprised the role in the third film of the ‘Police Academy’ film series, ‘Police Academy 3: Back in Training’ (1986). This film, directed by Jerry Paris, also became a commercial success.
Eventually, she retired from acting and commenced her career as an agent for a New York City company called ‘Empowered Artists.’ She and her former ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’ cast members were featured on a panel at the ‘Museum of Television and Radio’ in Beverly Hills in 2000.
Family & Personal Life
Debralee was romantically involved with John Dennis Levi, a ‘Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’ police officer. She lost her fiancé during the attacks on the ‘World Trade Center’ on September 11, 2001.
She relocated to Florida from New York City in 2005 to help and live with her ailing sister. While in Florida, she collapsed into a coma. She recovered after spending several days in the hospital. She was discharged on her birthday, soon after she recovered from coma. However, 3 days later, on April 5, 2005, she died in her sleep. Although an autopsy was done, the cause of her death could not be ascertained. Her body was then cremated.
According to John’s mother, Debralee had developed an alcohol issue following John’s death, which eventually led her to suffer from cirrhosis and led to her death. Jerri, Debralee’s sister, mentioned that the actor had never recovered from her fiancé’s death.