Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 30 December 1959, Buckinghamshire) UK pop singer, actress, comedienne. She got a scholarship to stage school at age twelve; she was encouraged by the great British comedian Les Dawson; appeared with Shakin' Stevens in London stage show Elvis and appeared in productions of Grease and Rocky Horror Picture Show, and in a BBC TV series Three Of A Kind early '80s. She launched a singing career after meeting the wife of the Stiff label boss at the hairdresser's. She had three top ten hits '83 with covers of Jackie De Shannon's 'Breakaway', Kirsty MacColl's 'They Don't Know' and Doris Day's 'Move Over Darling'; 'They Don't Know' reached the USA Hot 100 the next year. Guests in her promo videos included Paul McCartney and Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. You Broke My Heart In 17 Places '83 included all her hits, plus more covers. She appeared in McCartney's panned Give My Regards To Broad Street '84 and had a further hit with Madness's 'My Guy's Mad At Me'.
She concentrated on acting, appearing in Plenty with Sting, then married TV producer Allan McKeown and relocated to the USA. The Tracey Ullman Show on Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV network in the USA appeared on UK TV '88: her comedy was her own, unique and for grownups; her huge success in the USA without becoming a California airhead earned the hostility of the UK press. It was on her Fox show that the Simpsons made their first appearance, on 18 April 1987; after three season with Ullman they got their own show. Ullman also appeared in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway and Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter.
In 2009 the second season of her 'State of the Union' on Showtime, the USA cable channel, saw Ullman still sending us all up. J.K. Rowling came to the USA to arrest a hairy homeless man for impersonating Hagrid. A government raid on a polygamist compound resolved into a Broadway musical called 'Seven Brides For Every Brother', and Laura Bush was organizing a No President Left Behind Foundation. The environment was also covered: there was a news item about how to convert your SUV into a sitting room, while a driver had to call On Star for help getting out of her tiny hybrid car, which gets 900 miles to the gallon but requires her to drive in the fetal position.