During Sunday’s Oscars telecast, fans of the movie Frozen waited with bated breath as one of musical theater’s pre-eminent stars waited in the wings, preparing for her performance. It wasn’t until the glorious name “Adele Dazeem” had escaped John Travolta‘s lips that the audience rose up and cheered — the true star of the night had finally arrived.
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So who is Adele Dazeem, and where did she come from? While often mistaken for other actresses, thanks to her strong jaw and propensity for heavy vibrato in song, Adele has long been making a name for herself behind the scenes in Hollywood. Born in Celebration, Florida to Vivi and Hakim Dazeem, ne’er-do-well performers who were often arrested outside the gates of Disney World while performing in their unlicensed costumes as Spandarella and Dicky Duck, it often seemed to Adele that she would never make it out of the confines of her small town, the glittering golf ball of the Epcot Center the only beauty she’d ever seen.
In 1985, Adele found her world broadening unexpectedly when short-lived, Disney-backed Star Search knock-off Fame Forecast brought its auditions through the brightly colored streets of Celebration. After a highly disturbing performance of Bobbie Gentry‘s ‘Fancy’, Adele was chosen by the show’s judges for a need-based scholarship they’d created on the spot to keep the young singer from what they believed was a life of prostitution, having never heard the song before.
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Three years later, the young starlet was on top of the world. After using her scholarship money to attend the Celebration City College, where she majored in vocal projection, with a minor in classical miming, she was quickly snapped up by pop group Was (Not Was) as a backup singer. She lent her talent to mega-hit ‘Walk the Dinosaur’ before the pressure of fame began to get to her. By the time their 1990 album Are You Okay? was released, it was clear that Adele was far from it. She was once again flirting with kleptomania, regularly getting drunk on mouthwash, and had spent the night in jail after verbally, then physically, assaulting the cast of Kids Incorporated at a Christian Science Reading Room.
For the next two decades, Adele tried to get her life back together, to no avail. She hitched her wagon to both bands and boyfriends, bouncing from Lance Bass to LFO before a brief and shocking romance with Phil Spector yielded a child and a jail sentence for obstruction. After finding faith in prison and devoting her life to Sun Myung Moon‘s Unification Church, Adele was poised for a comeback. It was during a highly emotional ayahuasca ceremony that Adele met the couple that would change her life. Having envisioned Adele as a queen trapped inside an ice palace (before vomiting into her own handbag), Kristen Anderson-Lopez informed her husband that they had found their star.
For years, Adele Dazeem’s harrowing tale of Hollywood redemption has been kept quiet, but at the 2014 Oscars, it was clear that she would stay silent no more. Following her groundbreaking performance on the Oscars telecast, Adele has signed a deal with HarperCollins to publish her forthcoming memoir, From Mickey to the Moon: A Celebration of Life. If one thing can be said about Adele Dazeem, it’s that the world will always remember her name.
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