Real life Bunny Gibson pointing to her on American Bandstand
Kathleen “Bunny” Gibson is one of the Original American Bandstand dancers called ‘The Regulars.” She danced on the Philadelphia show from 1959-61.
Dick Clark calls “The Regulars,” the “1st Reality Stars” and has referred to Bunny as a ‘national symbol’ on “The Crook & Chase” show.
Peter Jenning featured Bunny’s Bandstand story in “The Century Book.” “The Century Book for Young People” is used as a reference book for High School students throughout America who are asked, “How times are different now from when Bunny Gibson was a teenager?” (Bunny helps many students with their Social Studies reports)
Dick Clark chose Bunny to represent the fifties in his Time Warner AB 50th Anniversary Music Collection infomercial and Collector’s booklet with Frankie Avalon & Debbie Gibson. Dick also features Bunny in his books and has thanked Bunny for her work for American Bandstand and for kids.
Bunny’s danced with Steve Colanero and Johnny Alamia but was mostly known for dancing with Eddie Kelly. Bunny and Eddie, Arlene & Kenny, Justine & Bob, Steve Colanero, Carole Scaldeferri, Joyce & Norman, Frani, Mike, the “Jimenez sisters – Carmen and Yvette, Pat, Myrna and the Beltrante sisters – Mary, Sue, & Rosalie were household names and teens across America followed their dances, fashion, and hair styles. Teen Magazines listed Bunny and the Regulars in Popularity Polls alongside Elvis, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Danny & the Juniors and The Dovells, amongst others rock ‘n’ roll singers. Bunny & the Regulars had fan clubs across America created by their Babyboomer fans.
Dick has given his support to Bunny’s Proposal for a “Star” on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” in honor of the four generations, 50’s to 80’s, of American Bandstand Regulars and their contribution to the entertainment industry.
Bunny has the distinction of not only dancing on Bandstand but she helped launch the other successful show, Mike Nise’s “Dancin' on Air.” “Dancin' on Air” mirrored Bandstand by also going national on the USA network under the name "Dance Party USA."
Including and since her Bandstand days, Bunny has come full circle with her dancing –appearing on “Glee,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and Jennifer Lopez’s film, “The Back-Up Plan - as a Principal Dancer.
Bunny is also an actress living in Los Angeles. She played Jamie Kennedy’s (who is from Upper Darby) mother and has appeared in many films, television shows, commercials and plays in Los Angeles and New York.
Dan Gross’ column keeps up with her acting accomplishments and she has been featured in newspaper articles across America throughout the years.
Mayor Rendell gave Bunny a Proclamation in 1997 declaring “Dancing is our drug of Choice Day” in Philadelphia in honor of her work with teens.
Bunny also has been a “Host” for the Fifties “American Heart Association,” Kiwanis Club, and other organizations raising monies for charities, her favorite cause being children.
Bunny hosts “Dance Contests” for kids and adults. One thousand foster children come to her “Dance Contest’ for “Day of the Child” each year. Bunny says about the kids, "They are all winners and all they have to do is 'shake their booty' and they get a prize." Bunny raises the 1000 prizes throughout the year. It’s Bunny’s way of giving back the ‘joy of dancing’ that she had when she went to American Bandstand.
A Philly girl – Bunny attended Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop Prendergast, Saint Hubert’s, Holy Cross (New Jersey) and graduated from Northeast High School. She has lived in Darby, Northeast Philly and Kensington, and she spent a lot of time in South Philly eating hoagies!
American Bandstand played “Cupid” in Bunny’s life when Don Travarelli, South Philly, watched her dancing on the show and fell in love with her. They married after she graduated. She was sixteen and Don was twenty-one. They had two daughters, Angel (named after “Angel” on American Bandstand) and Maria. Her four grandchildren are Lea & Christopher DiVello, Alexis Karanzalis and Nicole Weiss.
Bunny gives a ‘special thanks’ to Mike Nise and Pearl Polto for introducing her to this great organization that is doing a great job in preserving the Philadelphia legacy.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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