Veteran pop star Paula Abdul is relieved there was no social media when a 1992 plane crash-landing almost derailed her career, because she feared she’d be considered “damaged goods”.
The Straight Up hitmaker previously revealed she had been in the middle of a tour when one of the engines on the private aircraft she was flying in from St. Louis, Missouri to Denver, Colorado caught fire, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a cornfield.
She bumped her head during the incident and suffered a knee injury, but she pushed through the pain to complete her scheduled shows, before withdrawing from the limelight for several years as she struggled to recover from the air scare.
“I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt,” she recalled to syndicated columnist Allison Kugel. “I was getting ready to put my seatbelt on, but I never made it and I hit my head on the (ceiling) of the plane.
“It caused me to have paralysis on my right side, and I endured 15 cervical spinal surgeries.”
Looking back on the tough time, Paula is thankful she was able to keep the majority of her health woes away from the press, because she became convinced her career would be over if anyone found out the extent of her personal problems.
“I went through all of that, mostly, privately,” she said. “Back then, we didn’t have tabloids like we do now. We didn’t have the extent of paparazzi or the (Internet), so you were able to contain some information.
“I was so afraid of being counted out and looked at as damaged goods. The problem was that, at the time, I was. I ended up having to take almost seven years off to have all these different neurosurgeons operating on me.”
Abdul eventually returned to the spotlight as a judge on the original run of American Idol in 2002, and recently embarked on the Straight Up Paula! trek, her first solo tour in more than 25 years, and she is “extremely grateful” to have bounced back from her unexpected career hiatus.
“The fact that at this stage of my life, I’m able to do this, is the biggest gift ever!” the 56 year old gushed.
However, Paula is keen to expand her resume and get more involved in onscreen projects.
“I am living, in many ways, my dream,” she smiled. “But I also would love to branch out into other areas. And I get as much joy behind the scenes as I do from being out in front.”
“I really want to do some more producing, both in television and film,” the singer added. “I’d also like to do some more acting, something that is completely against type. I think it would be more challenging and fun, and it allows you to explore in a way where most people have no idea that a character like that can be within you.”
Paula is no stranger to the screen – she previously appeared in shows like Spin City, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, That’s So Raven, and Drop Dead Diva, while she has also enjoyed more recent roles in comedy series Fresh Off the Boat, and TV movie A Sister’s Secret.