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|Also Known As:||Frederick Esmelton||Died:|
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From child television personality to sexy singer to legitimate film actress, Stacy Ferguson - better known to the world as Fergie - had the talent, drive and ambition necessary to become a pop culture superstar. A native of Los Angeles, she had her start in entertainment as a regular on the youth musical-variety show "Kids Incorporated" (Disney Channel, 1984-1993), on which she appeared for five seasons. Fergie soon pursued her musical ambitions with two cast mates from the program when she joined the all girl pop group Wild Orchid in 1990. Although that band never achieved the level of success she had hoped for and a dangerous drug addiction threatened her future, Fergie's addition to the hip-hop troupe The Black Eyed Peas in 2002 soon rocketed her to the top of the charts with frivolous but addictive dance tracks like "My Humps" and a hit solo album, The Dutchess, by 2006; a follow-up solo effort, Double Dutchess, finally appeared in 2017. Never leaving the world of acting entirely behind, she made appearances in films like Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" segment of the double-feature "Grindhouse" (2007) and the musical "Nine" (2009), opposite Daniel Day Lewis. Beginning in 2007, she also had a...
From child television personality to sexy singer to legitimate film actress, Stacy Ferguson - better known to the world as Fergie - had the talent, drive and ambition necessary to become a pop culture superstar. A native of Los Angeles, she had her start in entertainment as a regular on the youth musical-variety show "Kids Incorporated" (Disney Channel, 1984-1993), on which she appeared for five seasons. Fergie soon pursued her musical ambitions with two cast mates from the program when she joined the all girl pop group Wild Orchid in 1990. Although that band never achieved the level of success she had hoped for and a dangerous drug addiction threatened her future, Fergie's addition to the hip-hop troupe The Black Eyed Peas in 2002 soon rocketed her to the top of the charts with frivolous but addictive dance tracks like "My Humps" and a hit solo album, The Dutchess, by 2006; a follow-up solo effort, Double Dutchess, finally appeared in 2017. Never leaving the world of acting entirely behind, she made appearances in films like Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" segment of the double-feature "Grindhouse" (2007) and the musical "Nine" (2009), opposite Daniel Day Lewis. Beginning in 2007, she also had a yearly gig as the co-host of ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" (ABC 1974- ), helming the live concert segments. As ambitious as she was talented, there were few goals, either personal or professional, that seemed out of Fergie's reach. However, a few stumbles, including a much delayed second solo album and a version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 2018 NBA All-Stars Game that instantly became infamous on social media, proved that sustaining that level of success could be hard, although her success as host of reality singing competition "The Four: Battle for Stardom" (Fox 2018- ) suggested a potential new direction.
Stacy Ann Ferguson was born on March 27, 1975 in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier, CA. She and her younger sister, Dana, were raised locally in Hacienda Heights by their mother and father, both public school teachers. As a child, Ferguson's parents introduced her to the arts, taking their daughter to see various musicals and classic Motown and R&B artists in concert. Ferguson's show business career began at age eight when she landed a commercial agent and began appearing in various television spots, including doing voiceover work for animated specials like providing the voice of Sally Brown on "It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown" (CBS, 1984). The year 1984 marked the start of Ferguson's first major gig: a stint on Nickelodeon's original Saturday morning series, "Kids Incorporated" (Nickelodeon 1984-1993), a show about the lives of teenage kids, many of whom would perform musical numbers. The series launched several other celebrity careers, including those of Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mario Lopez and pop singer Martika. Ferguson continued to hop onto other projects while contracted to the series, returning to the world of voice acting for the Peanuts gang with "Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown" (1985), as well as a 1986 guest appearance on the sitcom, "Mr. Belvedere" (ABC, 1985-1990).
Ferguson left "Kids Incorporated" in 1989 and looked for her next creative opportunity. By 1990, she had decided to pursue her musical side in an act that would include her former "Kids" castmates Renee Sandstrom and Stephanie Ridel. The three singers were teamed up by a mutual manager to form Wild Orchid, a pop and R&B-tinged group which was eventually signed to the RCA Records roster in the mid-1990s. As Wild Orchid was coming together, Ferguson would continue to make the occasional guest spot on series such as the long-running comedy, "Married with Children" (Fox, 1987-1997). In October 1996, Wild Orchid's first self-titled record was released. The album failed to chart high, peaking only at No. 153 on its Top 200, but its three singles "At Night I Pray," "Supernatural" and "Talk to Me" still led to a platinum album. Almost two years and a tour with N'Sync and 98 Degrees later, a second album, Oxygen fared less successfully, leading the intended third album, Fire, to be scrapped. Unhappy with the musical direction and the pressure from the label, Ferguson left the group and found solace in the underground scene of her native Los Angeles, where she began dabbling in drugs. A run-in with ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine soon ballooned into a full-fledged addiction, with Ferguson also spiraling into major credit debt. Down to a dangerous weight of 90 pounds at one point, she had shielded her drug problems under admissions of bulimia, finally deciding to seek help after a religious epiphany led her to reassess the value of her singing abilities.
After temporarily moving in with her mother, Ferguson looked to land on her feet again. She utilized amassed frequent flier miles to meet up with various music producers and began laying down new demos. Shortly after, Ferguson received a fateful phone call. Midway through the recording of their third album, Elephunk, L.A. hip-hop artists the Black Eyed Peas asked her to add vocals to the cut "Shut Up." A big fan of the Peas, Ferguson had made it a point to bump into the group backstage at her final Wild Orchid performance, telling frontman Will.i.Am about her interest in working together in some capacity. As the Peas' back-up singer Kim Hill had left in 2000, Will.i.Am called Ferguson. Things went so well that the group had her sing on other tracks as well, until at the suggestion of Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine, she was asked to join fulltime. At first, the group was wary of shaking things up, but went with it. The two-year recording process for the album was finally completed in May 2003 and the album was released on new label A&M a month later.
The transition to mainstream act was somewhat bumpy at first. Though the addition of the newly-dubbed Fergie brought a more commercial look and sound, hardcore devotees of the Peas' previous two albums were not pleased with the new lineup. Regardless, Elephunk became a huge hit, selling eight million copies globally. "Shut Up" was released as a single, as was the wildly successful "Where is the Love?" The latter featured additional vocals from former N'Syncer, Justin Timberlake, who at 17, had been Fergie's boyfriend. One of the album's tracks, "Let's Get Retarded" was changed for radio to the more palatable "Let's Get it Started," and the song single-handedly put the band on the mainstream map. Also a plus: Fergie's eclectic combination of sex appeal and retro, hip-hop fashion made her a media sensation, proving to be a good match for the Peas. Everything was so in alignment, that by early 2004, the group members filmed cameos as themselves in the cinematic adaptation of Elmore Leonard's "Be Cool" (2005), starring John Travolta and Uma Thurman.
Aside from her newfound musical success, Fergie's personal life also hit a new high when she met actor Josh Duhamel of "Las Vegas" fame (NBC, 2003-08) in September 2004 and the two coupled up. Having reconnected with her childhood career, Fergie's onscreen prospects continued into 2005, as she was slated to star in the Revolution Studios remake of the horror classic "The Fog (2005). She later dropped out of the film, but that year finally saw the fruits of the Peas' hard work, when the group was Grammy-nominated for Record of the Year and won for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Not letting up for a minute, June 2005 saw the release of the Black Eyed Peas' second album, the multi-platinum Monkey Business, which would yield six singles, including "Don't Phunk with My Heart" and "My Humps." Also that year, Fergie filmed a small role in the big-budget remake "Poseidon" (2006), appearing as the ship's pre-tidal wave musical entertainment, before rejoining her bandmates for more touring.
The Peas meanwhile nabbed four 2006 Grammy nominations, winning in the same Best Rap Performance category as the year before for the song, "My Humps." While still promoting the album, Fergie signed a deal with the Peas' label A&M and began working on material for a solo album with executive producers Will.i.Am and Polow Da Don. The album, The Dutchess, a continuation of the Peas' trademark hip hop, pop and R&B stylings, was released in September to mixed reviews. But Fergie's popularity with the masses was undeniable, and the album - which spawned three hit singles, including "Fergielicious," "Glamorous" and "London Bridge" - shot up to the No. 3 slot on the Billboard charts.
The year 2007 was a good one for Fergie. As if a successful solo career and Grammy Award with her beloved band was not good enough, Fergie took a dip in the acting pool again after being tapped by writer-director Robert Rodriguez to play the role of Tammy Visan in his zombie-fest half of "Grindhouse" (2007), a double bill b-movie send-up co-directed with Quentin Tarantino. In Rodriguez's film "Planet Terror," viewers cheered as the scantily clad Ferguson was torn apart by zombies to graphic effect. Although the film did not do well upon its April release - many felt, because it was a double bill - it developed an instant fanboy following and an essence of cool washed over anyone connected with the project.
After thrilling audiences across the globe on the Black Eyed Peas "Black Blue & You" world tour in late-2007, Fergie spent much of the next year in the recording studio with her band and on film sets as an actress. She voiced an amorous hippo in the animated sequel "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" (2008), as well as the character of Replay in Luc Besson's family fantasy "Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard" (2009). Shortly after filming a role for Rob Marshall's musical ode to Fellini, "Nine" (2009), the singer-actress married longtime boyfriend Duhamel in January 2009. The Black Eyed Peas next album, The E.N.D. yielded yet another smash hit for Fergie and her bandmates in the form of the party anthem, "I've Gotta Feeling" later that summer. As the massively popular album injected the struggling record industry with a boost of much-needed adrenaline, the band launched yet another world tour in support. Busy as ever, she lent her voice to the live-action adaptation of the canine comic strip, "Marmaduke" (2010) as Jezebel, the love interest of the comedy's four-legged hero (Owen Wilson). That same year, Fergie launched her own perfume through Avon called Outspoken and released another Black Eyed Peas album - The Beginning. Aside from continuing her voiceover career, including multiple appearances on "The Cleveland Show" (Fox 2009-2013), Fergie largely disappeared from view over the next several years, as she and Duhamel raised their son, born in 2013. Fergie reappeared in 2017 with her long-delayed second solo album, Double Dutchess, although its release was accompanied by the news that she and Duhamel had separated earlier in 2017. The following year, Fergie hosted reality singing competition "The Four: Battle for Stardom" (Fox 2018- ), which enjoyed some success. However, she gained more notoriety at that year's NBA All-Star Game when her version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," given a curiously slow and breathy delivery, became an instant source of social media mockery.
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TLS ( 2006-05-08 )
Source: The Stars of Hollywood Forever: 1901-2006
Born: June 22, 1872 Melbourne, Australia
Died: October 23, 1933 Los Angeles, CA
Esmelton, along with Robert Edeson and others, was one of the first members of Hollywood's Masquers Club.
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