Julie Brown

For other people named Julie Brown, see Julie Brown (disambiguation).
Julie Brown
Born Julie Ann Brown
(1958-08-31) August 31, 1958
Van Nuys, California, United States
Occupation Actress, comedian, writer, singer-songwriter, television director
Years active 1980–present
Spouse(s) Terrence E. McNally (1983–1989; divorced)
Ken Rethen (1993–2006; divorced; 1 son)

Julie Ann Brown (born August 31, 1958) is an American actress, comedian, screen/television writer, singer-songwriter, and television director.[1] Brown is perhaps best 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).


Julie Brown began her career performing in nightclubs.[2] She began 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.[2] 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".[3]

In 1984, she released her first EP, a five-song album called Goddess in Progress.[4] 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. 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.[5] The album highlighted her comedic talent and valley girl personality. The album's highlights were "I Like 'em Big and Stupid" and the 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.)[6] 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.[4] 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 starring Brown,[7] 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.[8]

Another pilot was filmed for CBS, 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 Women, which lampooned the violence of ice skater Tonya Harding toward rival Nancy Kerrigan, as well as that of widely publicized castrator Lorena Bobbitt.[9]

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, 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. In 1998, Julie appeared in the parody movie Plump Fiction. In 2000, Brown 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. 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. Brown began touring in late 2007 with her one-woman show Smell the Glamour.

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 "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. And in 2010 to the present she has been a writer and played the gym teacher on "Melissa and Joey." Also, in 2012 she appeared with Downtown Julie Brown as a guest judge on Rupaul's Drag Race.

Personal life

Brown was born in Van Nuys, California, the daughter of Celia Jane (née McCann) and Leonard Francis Brown. She attended a Catholic elementary school as a child, and later Van Nuys High School and Los Angeles Valley College and then attended American Conservatory Theater.

In 1983, Brown married writer and actor Terrence E. McNally, a frequent collaborator. They co-produced her first single, "I Like 'em Big and Stupid". They divorced after six years. In 1994, Brown married Ken Rathgen, and together they have one son. In an article which appeared in the San Francisco Bay Times on October 18, 2007, she was quoted as saying that she recently divorced for the second time.[10]



Title Year Role Notes Genre
Any Which Way You Can 1980 Candy Action/comedy
The Incredible Shrinking Woman 1981 TV Commercial Actress Comedy
Bloody Birthday Beverly Brody Horror
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment 1985 Chloe Comedy
Earth Girls Are Easy 1988 Candy Pink Romantic Comedy/musical
The Spirit of '76 1990 Ms. Liberty Comedy
Timebomb 1991 Waitress at Al's Diner Uncredited Sci-fi/action
Shakes the Clown Judy Comedy
Nervous Ticks 1992 Nancy Rudman Comedy
The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them Zoe Comedy/romance
A Goofy Movie 1995 Lisa Voice Animated comedy
Clueless Ms. Stoeger Comedy
Plump Fiction 1997 Mimi Hungry Comedy/parody
Wakko's Wish (video) 1999 Minerva Mink Voice Animation
Daybreak 2000 Connie Spheres Thriller
The Trip 2002 Receptionist Drama
Like Mike New Age Mother Family comedy
Fat Rose and Squeaky 2006 Squeaky Drama
Boxboarders! 2007 Anny Neptune Comedy
Mothers of the Pride 2015 Peg Comedy


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"
Newhart 198688 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 199293 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 199394 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. Heiner Season 1, episode 5 "Family"
Quack Pack (voice) Season 1, episode 3 "Leader of the Quack"
Animaniacs 199397 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 199699 Coach Millie Deimer 15 episodes
The New Woody Woodpecker Show 199900 Judge
Customer (voice)
4 episodes
Strip Mall 200001 Tammi Tyler Main role; 22 episodes
Elsie: Mere Mortal 2002 Mom (voice) Animated short
Family Affair Ms. 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 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–present 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"

Television film

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
Gusty Frog 2013 Frankie's Mom

Other work

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 199293 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 199699 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



Cultural references

Brown is mentioned in the 2004 song "Again and Again," which was written by Bruce McDaniel and recorded by the rock trio Nine Men's Morris.


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