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Kathleen "Bunny" Gibson is an actress (born Kathleen Elizabeth Gibson in the Margaret Hague Institute for Unwed Mothers on Jan. 19, 1946 in Jersey City, New Jersey) and former regular dancer on the American Bandstand television program. She was nicknamed Bunny by her mother because she hopped around like a bunny when she was little.
She was introduced to American Bandstand as a 13-year-old when Bandstand regular Arlene Sullivan and her dance partner, Kenny Rossi, appeared at a swim club near her home, attracting a throng of screaming teenagers. When a friend told her who the dancers were, Gibson began watching the show and practiced the jitterbug with her refrigerator door. She made her first appearance on the show at the age of 13 so that she could met her idol, Philadelphia singer Bobby Rydell.
Gibson soon became a regular dancer on the show and remained until 1961. Her regular dance partner was Eddie Kelly but she also danced with Steve Colanero, Johnny Alamia and Jay Jacovini. She had many fan clubs across the country and was listed in teen magazines' “popularity contests” alongside stars such as Elvis Presley, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker and Connie Francis. Gibson was regularly featured in articles in the most popular teen magazines of the day, such as 16, Dig and Teen Screen. Bandstand host Dick Clark once announced on air that Gibson had been named “Queen of the Shasta” by U.S. Navy men stationed aboard that ship.
In 1962, the 16-year-old Gibson married Don Travarelli, a 21-year-old fan who fell in love with her when he saw her dancing on American Bandstand. Travarelli practiced dancing with his niece, Robin, but was older than the 18-year-old limit to appear on Bandstand so he found another way to meet Gibson, getting her phone number from another dancer. In 1963, Gibson graduated from Northeast High School, a condition her mother required before giving permission for the marriage. Travarelli and Gibson had two daughters, Angel and Maria, before divorcing in 1970.
As a single mother, Gibson was an award-winning sculptress and did commercials in New York, including five national spots for Minute Rice. She also did commercials for Charmin, Panasonic, Acme Markets and McDonalds. She also studied acting in New York with Warren Robertson, Stella Adler and Herbert Berghof.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to pursue her acting career. As Kathleen Klein, she eventually landed a role as Megan on ABC-TV's General Hospital. In the early 1990s, she appeared in two episodes of the Showtime series, “Compromising Situations,” and played a hard, cigar-smoking saloon operator in the film “Rollerblade Warriors.” She has also appeared in the movie "No Ordinary Love" (1997).
In 2010, Gibson was the lead dancer in the conga line scene of "The Backup Plan" starring Jennifer Lopez. Other recent films in which she's had roles include “Scout’s Honor” with Fred Willard, “The Rainbow Tribe,” “I’m Going to Kill Leonard Riley,” “Creepshow 3,” “Karla,” “Second Class Citizens” and "Tao Hung’s Dream."
Gibson's TV appearances include roles on "Inside America’s Totally Unsolved Lifestyles” and "America's Most Wanted" (fugitive James Knoll turned himself in after he saw the show that night). She has also appeared on many news and talk shows including Good Morning America, Extra, Geraldo Rivera, Suzanne Somers, Morton Downey Jr., Crook & Chase and Joe Franklin. A leopard skin jacket that Gibson popularized on American Bandstand in 1959, was worn in the January 8, 2004, episode of the "American Dreams" television program by actress Vanesa Lengles. Gibson plans to donate the jacket to the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
Gibson has appeared on several American Bandstand anniversary specials, portrayed herself on the History Channel's "The Century Series" and was the principal dancer on the 100th episode of "How I Met Your Mother" (episode entitled "Suits").
Gibson also has made TV appearances on Without a Trace ("Strong Medicine"), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Keep Dreaming (pilot), Can’t We Just Get Along? (pilot), MTV Movie Awards, Conan O'Brien, Jamie Kennedy Experiment (playing Jamie’s mother), “Natural Blues” (music video as Moby's mom, directed by David La’Chapelle), Saturday Night Live (Roxy Club Dancer) and was part of Fred Willard’s “Moho Comedy Group.”
In the 1990s, Gibson founded an organization to help the homeless, Americans Sheltering America’s Poor (ASAP). She converted an office into an apartment and distributed food from her car to the homeless on L.A.’s skid row. In the late 1990s, Gibson started the "Dancing Is Our Drug of Choice" program, which continues today, conducting dance contests for foster children through the “Day of the Child.”
In 1998, Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster featured Gibson in their "The Century Book” and “The Century Book for Young People,” which is used in high schools across America. In the years since, Bunny has helped many students across America with term papers comparing their life with the way things were for her.
Gibson now has four grandchildren: Lea, Chris, Alexis and Nicole.
- Archilla, Dylan M. Indianapolis Prime Times, "Growing Up On American Bandstand," Sept. 13, 2003
- The Argonaut (Calif.), "Return of the Regulars," Jan. 15, 2003
- Blackmon, Robert. The National Enquirer, "American Bandstand Made a Bride," May 21, 2002
- Brenner, Sheri. Northeast Times (Pa.), "Bandstand's Bunny Still Hoppin'," Aug. 13, 1997
- Burkhart, Michael T. Camden Courier Post (N.J.), "New Jersey Fans Delight In Dick Clark’s Rockin Return,” Aug. 21, 2005
- Bykofsky,Stu. Philadelphia Daily News, "Teens for a Day," Aug. 6, 1997
- Daly, Sean. Philadelphia Daily News, "Bandstand Goes Gold," April 24, 2002
- Darrow, Chuck. Camden Courier Post, “South Jersey Dancers Recall Bandstand Days,” April 28, 2002
- Detweiler, Margit. Philadelphia City Paper, "We're Goin' Hoppin'," April 4–10, 1997
- Margit Detweiler. Philadelphia City Paper, "The in Crowd," August 1, 1997
- Dobuzinskis, Alex. Los Angeles Daily News, "Holding out for a hero," Nov. 22, 2004
- Francis, Naila. Times Herald, "Teens high on anti-drug message," Nov. 24, 1997
- Gross,Dan. Philadelphia Daily News, "Benefit for Bunny Gibson," Oct. 11, 2006
- Gross, Dan. The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 2009
- Gross, Dan. The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 2009
- Gross, Dan. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 11, 2010
- Grossberg, Josh. Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.), "Watching her life pass before your eyes," Jan. 18, 2004
- John-Hall, Annette. The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Nice beat, nasty ban," July 26, 2009
- Klein, Michael. Philadelphia Inquirer, "A match made on Bandstand," Jan. 13, 2002
- Kuklenski, Valerie. Woodland Hills (Calif.) Daily News, "Sock Hop On Stage," April 28, 2004
- Martinez, Al. Los Angeles Times, "Bunny, Queen of the Hop," Aug. 13, 1994
- McCarthy, Kelly. Main Line Today magazine, "Living An American Dream," January 2004
- Miller, Karalee. The Kansas City Star, "His dream girl becomes a reality," May 14, 2002
- Moorhouse, Ed. Burlington County Times (N.J.), "Queen of the hop returns for the Celebration," Aug. 3, 2007
- Ocamb,Karen. Los Angeles (Calif.) In, “The Gay Twist on American Bandstand," Oct. 18, 2004
- Pacheco, Della. Indianapolis/Cincinnati Prime Times, "Growing up on American Bandstand," October 2003
- Parade magazine. "The Century: I saw it happen," Nov.8, 1998</ref>
- Philadelphia Weekend Metro. “Bandstand Mural Celebrates a Classic,” Aug. 3, 2007
- Prokup, Diane. Northeast Times NewsWeekly, "Those Were the Days," Aug. 9, 2007
- Rothschild, Barbara S. New Jersey Courier-Post, "Time on 'Bandstand' changed dancer's life," Aug. 2, 2007
- Shannon, Trana. Valley Scene Magazine, "Original Bandstander dances with a new generation," May 14–27, 2004
- Starr, Michael. New York Post, "Star Report," Sept. 24, 2003
- Szumowski, Debbie. Fishtown Star, Philadelphia A 0, "Bunny and Bob share Bandstand memories," Jan. 28, 1998
- Takiff, Johnathan. Philadelphia Daily News, "A great friend turns 50," May 2, 2002
- Talent, Frank. South Philadelphia American, Sept, 12, 1997
- Talent, Frank. South Philadelphia American, Sept. 16, 1997
- Williams, Tom. The Sandpiper(N.J.), "American Bandstand's back with American Dreams," Oct. 4, 2002
- "The Century," Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster, Doubleday (1998), p. 341
- "The Century Book for Young People," Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster, Doubleday (1999), p. 147
- "The History of American Bandstand," Michael Shore with Dick Clark, Ballantine Books, N.Y. (1985), pgs. 76, 115-116
- "Bandstand The Untold Story," Stanley J. Blitz, Cornucopia Productions (1997), p. 137
- "Rock, Roll & Remember," Dick Clark and Richard Robinson, Thomas Y. Crowell Company (1976), pgs. 75, 77, 79
- "Dick Clark And The Making Of A Rock 'n' Roll Empire," John A. Jackson, Oxford University Press (1997), pgs. 197, 210
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Kt1EGzIZk (Peter Jennings interviews Bunny Gibson about American Bandstand)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bNI8e9AAhA&feature=player_embedded (Bunny Gibson and Steve Colaero on "Extra")
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc9vcT625vw&feature=player_embedded (Bunny Gibson in old Bandstand studio)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1pUXokmDCU&feature=player_embedded (Bunny Gibson in old Bandstand studio)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3CHr6imxPk (Bunny Gibson shows 1950s American Bandstand fashion on Crook & Chase Show)
- http://www.teleduction.com/order/bandstand.htm (Bandstand Days documentary)
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