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When Curly Sue Became a Star on ‘The Voice’

Alisan Porter played a breakout role as a tough and lovable orphan in the 1991 movie ‘Curly Sue.’ Since then she’s battled addiction—she’s eight years sober—while carving out a music career. Recently, she sang the lights out on NBC’s ‘The Voice.’

by
Jonathan Zalman
March 01, 2016
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Remember Curly Sue, that lovable 1991 movie directed by John Hughes about a homeless man (Jim Belushi), and an orphan named Curly Sue (Alisan Porter), who form an unlikely scam artist partnership? Here’s a refresher.

It turns out that Porter, who is Jewish, also had roles in The Golden Girls, Perfect Strangers, and MTV’s highly underrated show Undressed. In 2006, when the Worcester, Massachusetts native played the role of Bebe Benzenheimer in a revival of A Chorus Line, she said:

I feel like I am her. She’s Jewish and I’m Jewish. She comes from Boston and I come from Worcester. She’s a dancer and I’m a dancer. She connects with ballet and I connect with ballet. She has crashes on boys, and I have a crush on a boy. She deals with an issue–whether she will ever be good enough to make people proud. And I think every woman deals with that issue.

The next year, Porter began her quest to become sober from her addiction to alcohol and other substances. “I went into treatment,” she told the OWN Network, “and I’ve been sober ever since.”

Last week, Porter, who’s focusing on her singing career (rather than her acting one) was a contest on The Voice, NBC’s reality singing competition show. She sang a beautiful rendition of “Blue Bayou” by Linda Ronstadt, and was chosen by Christina Aguilera’s team. And when she revealed to the judges her past fame as the rough and tough orphan from Curly Sue, the judges were shocked.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.

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