Adoptee – Debbie Harry of Blondie

Debbie Harry of the band, Blondie, has a memoir out titled Face It.

Debbie Harry was born Angela Tremble in Miami Florida.  Her mother reluctantly gave her up for adoption in 1945.  She says: “I think there was a physical cloud left when I was parted from my mother. I was with her for three months, something like that. So, I think that, as an infant, that must have been very traumatic. I think that I’ve dealt with that… there was some kind of core thing that was in my mind that I, as a child, you can’t articulate any of this.”

Richard and Cathy Harry raised her in a migrant worker’s house in Hawthorne New Jersey.  There was a park nearby where Harry says she spent most of her free time, daydreaming.  She describes herself as a tomboy who loved to play in the woods with her dog.  I can relate.  I was much the same in childhood, considered myself that and climbed trees and rode on a motorcycle.

For a time, in her teens, she fantasized that she was the lost daughter of Marilyn Monroe. Her adoptive parents explained her adoption to her, she says, “In a really nice way.  It made me feel quite special somehow. I sometimes attribute my, uh, adventurous nature to that… I have an open mind about things. It didn’t present me with any borders. Like I’m just like my mother, and I’m going to be like her. I always felt like I really was a different person, and I didn’t feel that was the most comfortable place (her adoptive home) for me to be.”

Her adoptive mother was conventional for her time period.  She wanted her adopted daughter to find a man, settle down, have a family.

Debbie Harry was a free spirit who wanted to wear black. She liked looking “tough”. She was rebellious, an early adopter of sex, had lots of flings. She was at Woodstock.  She worked as a Bunny at the Playboy mansion.

“I lived in the East Village. I had a nice little apartment, $75 a month. I managed to pay the rent, hung out with my friends, went to see bands, had boyfriends.” She befriended street people and later a drag queen as an adult.  She once gave up her secretarial job at the BBC to work in a head shop.

She never found her birth parents in the end, but she did try. “I found out a small bit of information,” she says. “I don’t know how much of it is credible. Today, it’s much better. You get to know exactly who your parents were, what they were like, medical history. After a certain point, you have to let it go. What’s the point?”

“I looked into reaching out to my mother, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t possible.”  She found out that her biological father had died.

Throughout her life, Debbie Harry as Blondie, navigated the edges of new sensibilities.

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